Asna – Groove Podcast 410

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Photo: Press (Asna)

Asna is, in some ways, many different people at once. As a DJ and solo producer as well as in her collaborations with AnyoneID and the duo’s joint project, Kass Kass Rizer, the France-based Côte d’Ivorian artist continuously blends different styles from various eras into something fresh and exciting, but her work certainly doesn’t end there. A graphic designer by trade, she enriches and expands upon her musical practice with striking visual ideas. Her contribution to our Groove Podcast might be audio-only, but this hour-long mix is stylistically varied to a point where even a tired descriptor such as “colourful” only seems apt. In short, this Asna spreading her vibe.

You grew up among music lovers, but your own musical journey started with electronic music. What drew you to club music and how did it come about that you eventually started DJing?

My DJ journey began eight years ago in a little bar in Abidjan when I met Ivorian DJ and producer Black Charles, who is now a member of the most influential collective on the Ivorian DJ scene: La Sunday. He was the first person to push me out of my comfort zone and show what I could do. I naturally gravitated towards electronic music, being part of the generation that saw the democratisation and ease of access to digital music production. So it was quite natural for me.

Ever since, you have developed a very multi-faceted style that spans different genres and aesthetics. How would you describe your journey towards finding your own sound?

It’s always difficult for me to reply to this question because the music I make is something that I can’t name exactly. My universe is hybrid and I try to blend many genres led by the wish to find the best harmony between the organic and the digital. My main inspiration is my African roots—Côte D’ivoire, Senegal and Mauritania—and traditional percussion, which I’m obsessed with, and try to explore that within the electronic music spectrum. So today I can be obsessed with making the perfect track with Ivorian coupé décalé and techno style and the day after I will try to find the perfect balance between traditional percussion and house music patterns or drum’n’bass, or … Currently I am exploring Brazilian funk and Atabaque, which is the basis of the Brazilian percussion tradition.

One pillar of your sound as both a DJ and producer is coupé décalé, a genre moulded in Paris by Côte d’Ivorian musicians in the early 2000s. When releasing your debut single “Atalaku,” you stressed the social implications of this style of music. What does it represent to you?

Coupé décalé was not created in Paris! The band that made it the most popular was formed in Paris and was made up of Ivorians living abroad in Paris. Coupé décalé was born in Ivorian clubs during the first Ivorian political crisis. At that time there were curfews, and Ivorians who were used to starting their night in the maquis, open-air places where you can eat and drink with live music, before going to the club. Then, because of the curfew, people went straight into the clubs and went out in the early hours of the morning. The live music that was being played outside in the maquis came into the DJ booth and created the coupé décalé. So, yes coupé décalé is one of my main inspirations and for me represents Ivorian electronic music.

Much like the music you play as a DJ, your own productions are based on percussive elements. How do you approach music production, does the rhythm always come first?

Yes, percussion is for me the soul of African music and I really try to infuse it in my work. The rhythm comes quite naturally , and then the whole structure. It depends on what I want to say with the track. All my tracks are inspired by stories.

For your second release, “Abissa,” you teamed up with Paris-based AnyoneID, a producer who is at home in many different styles. How did your collaboration come about and how would you characterise your joint working process?

AnyoneID, as I often say, is like my soul mate in music. Our two worlds naturally complemented each other and we quickly understood each other’s ways of working. He has a very eclectic universe, he puts no limits on the musical genres he tackles and it’s the same for me. I try not to fit into any box, maybe soon I’ll release a track made with a symphony orchestra …

You’ve since teamed up under the name Kass Kass Rizer and released a full EP on More Time in the Spring of 2023. What was your motivation to turn your collaboration into a long-term duo project?

As I said before, it was natural for us to work together and create this project, too. Our universe made together is really fire!

One of your latest solo releases was a remix of Kutu’s “Baamet Beal” that offers a very rhythm-centric take on the original. How did you approach this particular project?

I am a big fan of the Kutu project. It’s exactly what I like, their universe is a mix between traditional Ethiopian music and a very digital universe. So it was pretty easy for me to go with that dynamic for the remix.

You seem to put a big emphasis on the visual aspects of your work, such as your music videos, which is hardly surprising considering your background in graphic design. What is important to you when deciding how to present you and your music visually?

I’m a graphic designer and I try to integrate this visual universe which is part of me into my musical practice. I think about all my sound projects visually and I produce everything myself: Video clips, visuals, etc.

What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?

Spread my vibe …

Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

An EP and some visual projects!

Stream: Asna – Groove Podcast 410

01. Gafacci X bablee – Sous les Cocotier (Asna Edit)
02. Kaba Blok – Moribayassa (Black Atlantic Edit)
03. D-Unity – More Drums Please
04. Asna X AnyoneID – Abissa
05. Asna – XXXXX
06. Sklave – Forest Fire
07. Clementaum, Rails, Idlibra – Trem Bala
08. DJ Babatr – Let There Be House
09. Fs Green – Club Work
10. Diplo – Favela Joint
11. Idlibra – Acid Verano (feat. MC GW)
12. OZADYA – Sugasuga (Neya X Pekodjinn Remix)
13. Nelly Furtado- Promiscuous (Dissolver Edit)
14. Celeda – The Underground (Felicie Edit)
15. Chris Lorenzo & COBRAH – Mami (FS Green Remix)
16. KasskassRizer- Roukasskass
17. Kedjevara – Nonguon Nonguon
18. KasskassRizer – Boucan
19. Kensaye – Gazole
20. Qwasa Qwasa – C’est quoi ça?
21. Lil Cherry – PYE LIFE (FS Green Edit)
22. Ngwaka Son Système – Lakala (DJ Babatr Remix)
23. Humildes do SC – BSOBDM001

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