Photo: Press (Cincity)
Floyd Lavine’s Afrikan Tales label is dedicated to “bespoke African electronics” as per its self-description and driven by communal spirit. Also the label debut by the Dutch producer Cincity, the KiJiJi EP, is more than just the product of one person’s imagination and knack for grooves and harmonies, but also a sort of international team effort. The Rotterdam-based DJ and event organiser invited a slew of collaborators and remixers to work with her on those two tracks that are informed by the spirit of the classic house sound as much as they take their cues from contemporary afro house: lush, melodic, soulful, sprawling and anthemic at once, this is the kind of stuff that’ll keep you warm this season. Cincity’s mix for our Groove podcast offers even more of that, dipping its toes into different genres and styles while never losing sight of its mission, to make people move—together, that is.
Your gateway to music was your mother’s record collection. What type of music did you grow up with and how did you get into club music, eventually?
I grew up with a lot of African music, Congolese rumba but also with soul and reggae. And I discovered house music and electro when I was around 18 years old. I remember searching for new music most of the time. I used to listen to music underneath my sheets on a Discman for hours.
You opened a dance studio and studied law in your hometown Maastricht before relocating to Rotterdam and started a project with two friends in the city’s house scene. What exactly was it that you did there?
During my studies in Rotterdam, me and two friends started a house dance act called “The Houze Junkyz.” We created our own looks for different club events and prepared our own choreography. For about four years, we performed on stage dancing next to house DJs from the Netherlands.
Already as a teenager, you had created mixed tapes to dance along with. How did it come about that you picked up DJing and when did you start playing clubs professionally? It seems as if you took your first steps together with Yasmin Göbel as Cincity’s Yazz.
It was in my younger years, teaching in my dance studio when I started making my own mixtapes and building my CD collection. It was fun making these and it helped me with my music preparation for my dance lessons. Yasmin and I were best friends. We were both really into house and techno music and we used to go out a lot. When I decided to start practicing how to DJ, I figured it would be more fun doing it together with a friend. So we came up with this idea to be a “DJ duo” and go on this journey side by side. My first gig together with Yasmin was in Dec 2019 at a party organised by a friend. After this night I knew that DJing would become my future. Eventually we went our separate ways, but we had a good time.
When and how did you start producing music?
I started producing music not so long after I started DJing. I was surrounded by talented producers who took me under their wing. So yeah, I spent a lot of hours in the studio and online watching tutorials on music production. The whole creative process of building your own tracks expressing your musical thoughts and later being able to share these with people around the world takes DJing to another level.
Your EP KiJiJi has been released through Floyd Lavine’s Afrikan Tales label. You had first gotten to know each other when you invited him to play at one of your events. How did the EP come together after this?
Floyd and I always kept in contact, updating each other about our musical journey and sending each other demos. When he got to hear “Kijiji” and “Lately,” he became really enthusiastic and asked if I wanted to release these tracks on his label. He helped me with the final mixes and a new EP was born.
For the title track, you teamed up with Torque MuziQ, B’utiza and Kiddo. What were your respective roles when working on the piece?
Torque came with this sick beat he worked on together with Kiddo before it got to me. At this time I was in the studio in Mexico and met this violin player and asked him to record a part for the track. I wanted to touch a more sensitive snare. I came up with this idea for a warm, soulful, yet strong voice. So I contacted B’utiza and sent him the track and he told us that he would love to be a part of it. When his vocal recordings came back in, it really touched me and I felt the track was finally complete. Team work turned it into a beautiful track made with love.
For the track “Lately,” you have collaborated with singer Jody Vivian. How did the collaboration come about and what did your working process look like?
Jody is a friend of mine with an incredible voice and I always told her I wanted to work on a track with her. During the pandemic I had a lot of time to complete unfinished projects. And in the same time period the recording of this track took place during one of the many jam sessions at my place. We started writing and recorded her vocal parts in my home studio. It was a fun and a super chill process that gave us the joy and hope we needed at that time.
The track has been remixed for this release by Enoo Napa and William Djoko. Why did you ask those two artists to reinterpret “Lately”?
I’m a big fan of both of their music, so when I decided I wanted to make a remix pack I didn’t hesitate to ask them. With the original being more of a deep or soulful version, I wanted to add two remixes that would take the track to another level. Djoko’s remix is more cutting-edge, meanwhile Enoo adds tension with silky lowstabs and sweeping strings for a tight afro tech offering in his signature style. I love both of the remixes.
Earlier this year, you presented your new event concept Agartha! at Pleinvrees festival. What’s the philosophy behind the series?
The Queendom Agartha is said to be a mystical night. Only pure souls can gain entry and experience the deepest electronic soundscapes. For each edition, I will invite two DJs that represent or are an extension of my eclectic blend of sounds. The location always changes, so you will never know where to find the entrance to the hidden world of Agartha!
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
Besides my own sound, I especially wanted to showcase my latest releases and a few of my new favourite discoveries. I wanted to show my deep and eclectic style: a blend of house and techno sounds merged with African rhythms.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I’m working hard on my future releases; I want to keep surprising you with new music. There is lots coming up and I will announce some big gigs and other projects very soon. I got to travel the world a lot this year and that’s something I see myself continue to do in the future. Besides making my own music, I am passionate about expanding my events Agartha, Cloud 8 and Tribes. I believe African Electronic Music is the future and it’s important to keep pushing the sound and new talent. I’m excited about the future but definitely very blessed with the present. I love the moments in which I bring together a group of people from different backgrounds, all united for that moment when you are behind the decks.
Stream: Cincity – Groove Podcast 361
01. Phuzekhemisi, Da Capo, Gallo Remixed – Imbizo (Da Capo’s Touch)
02. Rodney SA – Better Days (Original Mix)
03. Cincity Feat. TorQue MuziQ & Ziddo – Kijiji (Original Mix)
04. Ankhoï – Unreleased
05. Re.You – Hands (Original Mix)
06. DJ Satelite, Bun Xapa, BlackPearlzSA – Ulele (Original Mix)
07. Aimo – Promise Land (Original Mix)
08. Cincity Feat Jody Vivian – Lately (Enoo Napa remix)
09. Gledd – Osun (Cincity Remix)
10. Made By Pete, Savage & SHē – Too Drunk To Dream
11. Eli Foli – Celestial (Original Mix)
12. DJ Merlon & Enoo Napa – Lavitate (Original Mix)
13. Mobi Dixon, Mque – City Rains (Original Mix)