Interview : Hi Life Connection “has its deep roots in cultural contamination”.
From VIP to Back to Africa. Two singles very different in their themes: in some way, they opened the doors to Radio Orchestra Vol. 1. Two visiting cards: how is it? How do they represent you?
VIP and Back to Africa are two songs that, somehow, represent the sound of Radio Orchestra: acoustic colored by electronic sound, resting on strings and brass harmonies punctuated by percussion samba. And these two pieces express very well the “mood” of how we dealt with the production of Radio Orchestra. One more danceable, the other more singable. In fact, we are planning to produce a video for each song to better communicate the spirit of Radio Orchestra, interpreted by several musicians of different nationalities and different temper.
HI LIFE CONNECTION is a very interesting project started by you, Master Kush. You are also the producer and one of the reference faces among so many numbers of line-up changes in the project. How was this project born?
The project was started back in 2002, in collaboration with a DJ (DJ B-Ras) with whom I worked till the production of Global Nation (A Hi Life Connection album released in 2011). A console, a drum machine, listening to Thievery Corporation, Nitin Sawhney and Asian Dub Foundation. From the beginning, the sound coming out of the production was colored and mingled with sounds and ideas of other co-workers, musicians, DJs, artists. It was clear that we were creating an “open music project” rather than a band, where the ”contamination” of styles and cultures was the key. And then, the meeting with the London MCs, the first production with Mc Ma, the early evenings with Mc Boomer and White Rose. And so on until today: a musical project, in which more than line-up changes, we are talking about different artistic collaborations, maintaining, as a common denominator, an upbeat sound, powerful rhythms, Hip-Hop flow, choral chorus.
After years so we’ve got to RADIO ORCHESTRA Vol 1. In the meanwhile, an obvious question, but probably not so much, why Vol. 1?
We are volcanoes of ideas. It was difficult to choose which songs include in Radio Orchestra Vol. 1. We decided to split it into two productions, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (we expect the releasing date for June 2015). In this way we have time to produce other videos before the release of Vol.2.
Then, Why do two Eps and not directly an official album?
Too often musical productions end up in endless catalogues of discs, forgotten. And that’s a shame. We decided to “talk less but more often”!
Why is this EP called so? Does it recall a peculiarity of the album?
Radio Orchestra in fact, comes from the bases that I made entirely with violins, cellos, trombones, trumpets, joined, in the second half, by a typically modern sound , more mainstream
What do you tell about in the pieces? And how were the songs born? The creation of the songs is the most interesting aspect. All of you live far away…how do you elaborate everything together? and what about the choice of themes and music?
We like to call our music “our soundtrack” Let’s talk about common situations, everyday: success, disappointments, shared moments, clubs and of course “love songs”. The remoteness of many musicians is definitely an obstacle. Unlike other musical situations, we cannot lock ourselves in the studio for a month, but we must take advantage of the joint moments, such as gigs, DJ sets. This, however, has a great advantage: to review, after some time, our productions, bringing, maybe, improvements. This year I have gone personally (for Radio Orchestra) more than once, to London to record Mc Ma mc or Mc Boomer or to realize some shots for a video. I produce in my studio in Italy all the bases, harmonies and sounds, often with guitarist Andrea Mignone (in my opinion an unparalleled guitarist on the Italian scene). From this point, the road that a song takes is decided by the artists, by the way they see the song, from their “mood” at the time. Also in production we are “an open project”!
What are the elements necessary to become part of HI LIFE CONNECTION? Specifically, in your opinion, what are the potentialities and talents of the artists who worked on RADIO ORCHESTRA Vol 1 ?
Difficult to insert them in categories, but they are easy to recognize. A wide musical background, especially in the Black Music, Reggae, funk, hip-hop. ability to interact with other artists, work for a common project, and of course great artistic talent. Elements that I have found in all the artists who have worked for Radio Orchestra.
I refer to “Back to Africa” also doing some provocation. Here, in some way, we talk about origins, evolution and decay. Summarizing, about changes. a path is the ancestral origin, Why did you call it “Back to Africa”? Has it a meaning “hidden” at least for you? Clearly stated…. Also you feel you have some negritude in?
The opposition to Western capitalism, the Afrocentrism, the anti-colonialism, the black consciousness, resistance to oppression of governments, the praise to Jah are the main themes of “Rootz reggae”, evolution of “Early reggae”, emerged in the late 60s in Jamaica and UK. “Back to Africa” means just that. A complaint, a protest. A will to return to the traditions, without coercion and (commercial) dictatorship. And I can’t but support this line of thought, even if I have different roots.
I refer again to “Back to Africa”, that surely cannot fail to please the readers of We Black. You who live on the borderline between two different nations, what are the differences, if you connect the binomial Music-Integration?
The main difference is immediate. You produce a piece with 10 percussionists, powerful guitar riffs and black voices: in Italy it is catalogued as “World music”, in England as “Funky”. And that says a lot. Racial integration: actual, present theme in this period with the landings in Sicily, Lampedusa, the invasion of shadow nations from the Far East and South. Differently from England, and also France and Spain, Italy is beginning only now to deal with this (inevitable) social phenomenon, which will have multiple effects on our society and so on music. The Hi Life Connection has its deep roots in cultural contamination. Needless to support xenophobic ideas. Xenophobic we must be against governments. They are the real different ones !