This feature is taken from ISSUE 02 of our print edition, see more and buy it here.
Dance music’s got arty. Creativity and friendship are driving art, fashion and club culture together and Nguzunguzu are confidently leading the way.
Recently there's been a huge surge in cutting edge dance producers and DJs collaborating with fashion and art, to such an extent that the worlds are merged and almost indistinguishable. Right now they seem to be an essential part of one another; DJs playing 'hybrid operas' at Miami Art Basel and designers helping run the coolest parties happening right now. It's no longer a rarity, it's no longer separate. And, despite what the cynic inside of you might think, these connections don't seem to be forged with a consumerist or capitalistic intention, instead they seem to be actually coming from a love of creativity and from friendship.
At the forefront of this is Nguzunguzu aka Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda who not only are part of the re-emergence of the grime scene, which they say they are attracted to by 'the beats! the energy and the sound palette', but they're also doing big things with big people; providing artsy visuals to the club kids and club music to the art kids. One of the main acts on innovative label Fade to Mind, they're leading the way with sci-fi references, trendy lanyards and sick collaborations; including working with Kenzo, playing at GHE20G0TH1K and Future Brown, their side project with Fatima Al Qadiri and J-Cush, preforming a 'basketball performance art' show at PS1. Nguzunguzu are the perfect example of the everything thats good happening in the scene right now. They attribute their interconnected success solely to their 'really really really cute friends' further proof that these collaborations are coming about organically.
Collaboration in all aspects in and out of music is a fundamental part of Nguzunguzu's work, most obviously the collaboration between the duo themselves 'with solo production you tend to get stuck in your own bubble, which isn't a bad thing, but collaboration lets music breath. New ideas arise that you wouldn't find on your own. Collaboration is essential to us.' This aspect is also seen in Future Brown, but for that project they want to take their music in a different direction, getting deeper into scenes that Nguzunguzu have only touched on before, 'with both projects we want to work with vocalists, but Future Brown is really concentrated featuring vocalists. Nguzunguzu music is more dance music club music, among other things. Future Brown is more rap, R'n'B and grime focused.'
Club music is still an essential influence and inspiration, 'big banging systems, Lasers, and fog can be very persuasive. Ideally a club is a really dynamic place where you can lose yourself in the music.' Check out any of their Boiler Room videos to see just how at home they are in the club. While they stand out artistically as producers they are very heavily known for this next-level DJing but in their eyes producing and DJing go hand in hand and they always keep in mind the club setting, 'producing music sometimes takes us away from the dance floor, but most of the time we are making music to DJ with.' Something that's seen in their live sets, but it's not just Nguzunguzu's danceable tracks that makes them slick in the club, a lot of it is to do with their general pumped atmosphere when playing out. Recently making the progression from CDs to USBs they still don't bury their heads in their Macbooks when DJing, something that's refreshing for the scene right now, 'we already spend most of the time staring at a computer screen, definitely don't want to do that at the club.'
One of the most notable things about Nguzunguzu sets is the range of genres and styles they weave together, they were one of the first acts I heard mixing R&B smoothness with harsh electronic beats. According to Nguzunguzu there was no particular moment or mix when this idea clicked 'it's about taking risks. And when it clicks, all you want is more clicking.'
In the worlds outside of music, art and fashion, Nguzunguzu say they're into Chelsea Manning and Vin Diesel. Chelsea Manning was pretty self explanatory, because, fuck the military and the ridiculous sentencing of whistle-blowers, but I were pretty perplexed by Vin Diesel. I followed up with Asma about what it was about him that made him so great, and she emailed 'well, Total Freedom really opened my eyes to see Vin's beauty. He is everything. Basically this video explains everything' and linked [the above] video of Vin Diesel singing along to Rihanna's Stay, in front of a projection of Ri being sad in a bath. Which, in turn opened my eyes to Vin's beauty too and now I too am seriously obsessed. He is my everything.
From Vin Diesel to Moma, Nguzunguzu know what's good. They're leading the way in pretty much everything cool right now, and they’re doing it in new, interesting and unexpected ways. With all the collaboration and the countless projects I wondered if there were ever any 'creative differences' or falling out. Their answer, 'we are still working on this thing so no!'. Let's hope it stays that way.
- Interview and text by Lia McGarrigle