Tag Archives: social change

Woxow (interview)

A debut album featuring guests such as Ken Boothe, Akil from Jurassic 5, BluRum13 and others is no small feat. But that is exactly what Italian producer Woxow has just done. But Woxow does not only have some cool networking skills because Alcazar is also an absolutely banging album. Not only are the old school beats and smooth melodies super fresh but Woxow also set the production up with socially conscious themes which the guest lyricists followed.

Parallel to dropping his debut album, which includes a beautiful 7 inch of the track Chaos, Woxow has also founded a new record label called Little Beat More and apparently the world can except some more dope stuff coming out of there soon. I talked to Woxow and he explained to me how his ‘concept mini album’ is his input into a mainstream industry that disappoints him and how the music is a tool that can possibly unite people and spread some good messages.

“Yes, I wrote a concept for each song with a sort of a guideline, full of ideas, quotes and videos. I wanted the singers to talk about what you hear on the album. I’m a bit disappointed about the mainstream so I decided to do music for giving a little contribution, to spread good values. I’m actually a bit surprised how most people live this life. In the last years I’m trying to develop a sort of consciousness that makes me being a 99% vegan, stop buying the shit I don’t need, trying to be an ethical consumer, go for public transportation and bike instead of cars, do not waste, try to avoid plastic, recycling, etc…

And I have to be honest, what makes me crazy are not the people that ignore all these issues because they don’t know about it, or they don’t have time to dig it or because they’re trapped into the life of work, work, work. What makes me really crazy are the thousands of people out there who know the story, but then they don’t have enough will to be on this side or they don’t believe their little contribution can make a difference, or they’re just lazy. C’mon people, believe in it, we can do it.”

 

For a debut album, Alcazar boasts an incredible amount of maturity, depth and as previously mentioned guest features. I could only but imagine that perhaps Woxow has been lingering in the music industry for a while.

“Yes, I’ve been working in music for several years as promoter, tour manager, dj, etc. I’ve organised a reggae festival in my home town for 5 years until 2009 with names like Alton Ellis, Derrick Morgan, Mad Professor, David Rodigan, Dub Pistols and more. Then I joined The Sweet Life Society – that experience gave me a lot! I was mostly in charge of booking and tour logistics. We released an album with Warner in Italy and we toured all around Europe and USA. We were so lucky to hit some of the best European festivals including Glastonbury. I suggest you dig their new album Antique Beats, serious stuff. In that period I started putting my hands on Ableton and I’m so happy to have co-produced, with their help, 2 tracks, on that album.”

 

As mentioned above, Woxow got some serious names to drop political rhymes onto his debut production. But how did he get all these brilliant talents to collaborate on his debut album?

“I’ve done some research, mainly to find rappers that could fit with the project and I simply contacted them and proposed the collab. With BluRum 13 we already did something with The Sweet Life Society and Hannah Williams is a long time friend, I organised her very first gig in Italy at Jazz Refound Festival in 2010.

Regarding Ken Boothe, I had the pleasure of organising his gig in Marseille in April. After having spent 2 days we listened to the track, I proposed to him to do the feat and he said yes. To have Ken Boothe on my debut album is a real honor, even more if I think that he usually does not do lots of featuring (he told me it was his very first one on a hip hop beat with another rapper). Furthermore it represents a strong connection between the two music I love the most, hip hop and reggae.”

 

Woxow’s music has always been fuelled by protest. His love for hip hop and reggae has drawn him towards socially conscious music and he specifically gives a shout out to Massive Attack for mostly attributing to him turning to make protest music: “Their concert is not a concert, it’s a life experience full of sociological meaning.”

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Italy’s often turbulent political landscape has for decades been fuel for fiery protest music but before delving into some recommendations of Italian protest music, old and new, I asked Woxow about the current state of affairs in his home country, seeing how a new government was recently formed.

“It’s not actually that they [citizens] voted for the new government, they voted for 2 political parties (very different from each other) that then decided, against any expectation, to join together to create the new government. So basically all Italians are now completely shocked about it. I’m not really into that kind of politics, I think the power is somewhere else. I follow this kind of mainstream politics as I would follow TV series. And I don’t watch TV series.

There’s an Italian scene related to protest music, but I think it was much more serious a few decades ago, especially in the 70’s. We got lots of songwriters that were really protesting with their music (like for example Fabrizio de André). One I really and suggest you check out is Rino Gaetano. In fact he died at the age of 30, they said it was suicide but lots of voices say that he was killed and I believe so.

Then in the 90’s we had an awesome hip hop act which made the history down here, I’m talking about Sangue Misto (translation: mixed blood). They made just one album but it’s still recognised as the master piece of Italian hip hop. And the lyrics… ooooh, straight to the point: smoking and protesting against society. Other bands I have to mention are Casino Royale and 99 Posse.”

 

Through his newly founded label Woxow will be producing two newcomer artists soon and he informs us to stay tuned about that, which we will certainly do. Woxow states on his webpage that he’s been obsessed with music for quite some time so clearly it was thrilling to get him to name drop some acts he is currently listening to and to no surprise it was a long, tight list.

“I’m really into the new Kiefer out on Stones Throw. Then Mononome really excites me, Moderator, Emapea, the new Deca. These guys are my top beatmakers at the moment, you find some of them on the recent minimix I’ve done for The Find Mag.

I’m also into lots of solo piano by Nils Frahm (Screws is absolutely my fav), Akira Kosemura, chilly Gonzales, Lambert, Bremer/McCoy. Then I respect and follow the new London Jazz scene by all those guys around Moses Boyd, Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, Ezra Collective, Yussef and Kamaal… they’re amazing.”

 

Finally, as to everyone we interview here at Shouts, we offer Woxow to shout something of importance from the rooftops:

“Yes, a quote I like: “Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.” Thanks, peace.”

Keyz (interview)

Keyz is only 20 years old and he just released his first album. ‘The Seed’ has, in his own words, now been planted. The lyrics indicate empathy and compassion one would expect to see in an older individual. This is a young individual, who realizes that his voice, no matter how small or unsigned, can have an impact. Especially if the rest of us listen and follow his plea to make an impact in a unified way.

From ‘You and Me’ (prod. Yondo)

“to anybody hearing this track
understand that it’s more than a lyric in a rap
i’m tryna uplift your spirits in fact
together we’ll make a bigger impact”

Halldór contacted Keyz and learned about the process of his debut album, his message and upcoming projects for this brilliant young artist.

 

For those not familiar with your work, who is Keyz?

I’m a 20-year old from Sudan that would like to become the voice for all ‘third culture kids’, as well as all marginalized and underrepresented social classes. Through music and media I want to unify like-minded people and build a global community dedicated to bring about systematic changes in society, economy, and politics.

 

According to your Bandcamp page you turned 20 years old this year. How long have you been making music?

I’ve been making music since I was 11 or 12 years old – but back then, my stuff was trash. Even my stage-name was corny – I called myself ‘Dizeaze’ because I thought I was ‘sick with the flow’ (God, I hope people don’t find that stuff lol). I still have a long way to go but it’s been great learning the basics of how to write and record my own songs… and how to come up with a better stage name..

 

‘The Seed’ is your first album. How was the process behind the album?

I loved making my first album. I learned a lot about the recording process and zoned in on it to make sure my sound quality was decent. The masterminds behind the beats blessed me with the opportunity to use their sounds and it was awesome reaching out to the lovely ladies who let me use their artwork for the album cover, as well as cover art for each song.

I was also happy with the roll out – I figured out how to get my music on Spotify/iTunes & most major streaming services – and I have great friends & family who helped with marketing & planning.

And the response was great! I’m humbled by & super grateful for the support I’m receiving for the album and flattered when I have opportunities like these – interviews, performances, etc.

 

How important is it for you to have a political or activist message in your songs and what is your inspiration for making conscious music?

Not to sound cliche, but, I believe my purpose in life is to be an activist for the benefit of my community, for the third culture. and for the world. And I know that music shaped my character, so, when I make music, I try my best to help other listeners better themselves. My inspiration comes from a lot of places, but when I watch my favorite artists perform live, with thousands of like-minded people chanting their lyrics – I want to be on that stage. With thousands of people united for social change.

 

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Do you feel there is a like-minded scene around you or do you feel lonely making your music?

I feel like there are artists, even mainstream artists like Kendrick, Cole, & Joey Bada$$, who make conscious music & have even paved the lane for conscious music to resurface for our generation – but there still isn’t a voice for the GLOBALLY underrepresented people of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and all indigenous people who have had their cultures and histories rewritten by imperials… so I’m going to have to fill that void.

 

What are some of your favorite political or conscious musicians/bands out there?

I have loads of favorites to be honest – everyone from Lauryn Hill and Tupac to Joey Bada$$ and Ab-Soul to Mick Jenkins and Joyner Lucas and of course Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.

 

What’s on the horizon for you?

Well, since I released ‘The Seed’, I’ve been working on new music, some collaborations, and will start performing more and networking – hopefully within the next 6 months I’ll be able to throw my own concert. Pray for me!

 

Thank you so much for participating and for making the music you make! Anything you want to add to wrap this up?

Thank YOU very, very much for appreciating my music and taking the time out to feature me for an interview. I highly respect you using your platform for social change – much love!