Purveyors of: A pioneering Afrofuturistic sound blending traditional, ancestral African sounds from Chad and beyond with state of the art electronic music.
File next to: Pierre Kwenders, Mbongwana Star, Daft Punk
Caleb Rimtobaye, better known as AfrotroniX, has been making waves with his mix of Tuareg blues and African electronic rhythms since 2014 playing shows around the world from Brazil, Mexico City and Chile to Paris, Dodoma (Tanzania) and Praia (Cape Verde). The 2018 Best African DJ winner at the All Africa Music Awards has also been featured in stories in the Globe & Mail, OkayAfrica and CBC in his hometown of Montreal.
Wavelength’s Guest Curator, Ian Steaman posed a few questions to AfrotroniX about his music and live shows ahead of his headlining set on Day Two of Summer Fest at Stackt Market on August 18.
So, have you played Toronto before?
This is going to be the first time there.
I’m very excited about it! Fun fact: I’ve played literally all around the world but never in Toronto even though, as I’m based in Montreal, we are so close.
I expect to see my community coming out and I’m sure is going to be a great night. Can’t wait.
Afropop, urban and electronic, and Afrofuturism really seems to be
getting more mainstream with acts like WizKid, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great and Mbongwana Star starting to hit, and even Beyonce working with Afropop artists on the Lion King soundtrack. What’s it like being a part of that movement and wave?
I can say with honesty that I feel very honoured to be part of this movement.
Did you expect it to grow and develop the way it has when you began?
As you said, when I started and when “we” started this movement with the intention to show the new face of Africa, I didn’t expect it would have grown this fast. Looking, for example, at the Nigerian music scene is amazing. The alternative project, Mongbwana Star, which I had the luck to collaborate with on the production of one of their albums, is a great reality that comes from Africa yet surprisingly they do not get the coverage they deserve in the press and media.
What is important to underline is that Afrofuturism is not only related to music, but you can find it in cinema, fashion, general business, and all sides of life. Things are growing massively and moving fast in Africa. Our people are starting to become more confident in their own capabilities.
Where do you see this going?
We look at this new generation growing up, you can really see they are on fire! They want to be part of this powerful transition, they want to speak their truth when it comes to define what is “in”, or “new” or “fresh”. This gives a minimum idea of how big this movement will grow and we are in the beginning and the middle of it at the same time.
It’s been a minute since you released NomadiX. You’ve dropped a few singles since then. Do you have a new full length in the works and will we get to hear a preview of any of the songs from it at Summer Fest?
Since I released Nomadix there have been some new tracks like “MNouta” with Oonga which is the story of the African rise, “Aye Aye” or “Oyo” that won an Afrima (All Africa Music Award) in 2018 and others that are part of my live set. You will hear them in Toronto and stay tuned, because we have three new videos on their way coming out from September to December, so be ready to hear new music from AfrotroniX!
There’s some great clips of you playing live shows from around the world and we’ve heard cool things about your on-stage visuals. What can Summer Fest attendees expect to see and hear at your set next month?
If the technical conditions allow the team, we always try to present the set with the full set-up presenting the complete AfrotroniX concept: a sound going from ancestral rhythms mixed with electronic sounds. I try to do the same thing with the visual part of the show, in order to bring the audience into this new world I’m trying to create, this Afrofuturistic vibe I want to share. You will hear me singing live, playing guitar live, my drummer will play drums and percussions, a fusion of Sahara blues and electro that mixes dub and traditional. We also travel through several African vibes and areas with our sounds and languages as well: I sing in Arabic, in Gouran so it’s going to be a real journey where you will hear how we try to create the sound of the future, the sound of Africa. That’s what I’m bringing to Toronto.
And to end, what’s your favourite song right now?
It’s an album more than a song that I really love, from an artist called Djeli Tapa. On her last album there is a song called “Mandeguisa” which is close to the Afrofuturistic vibe.
Thanks for your time.
Listen to “Mandeguisa” by Djeli Tapa and music by AfrotroniX and other artists playing Summer Fest on the Wavelength Summer Fest 2019 Playlist on Spotify by clicking HERE.