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Uproot Andy Brings The Energy of Congo on Baluka

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Uproot Andy is no stranger to global dance floor bangers. The Dj and producer has produced a slew of bangers covering every major global sound currently trending and not trending. This is the beauty of Andy and what he brings as a Dj and producer. He covers the globe, understands how people in different cultures move, and brings that energy to his productions and live sets. At AfroConex, we love that Andy plays and produces for the dancers. Every track he touches is intended to make you move in some way.

On December 8 Andy teams up with AQ Global for the Pierre Kwenders live show. Pierre is an artist Andy has previously collaborated with. Their collaborations produced the genre bending: OBOMI NGA and the Ndombolo themed BALUKA. Both bangers that are great examples of Andy’s ability to tap into and deliver authentic Afro diaspora sounds.

AfroConex caught up with Andy to talk about his collaborations with Pierre and the upcoming New York show.

AFROCONEX: Andy we are big fans of your sound and the music you produce. We love that you live and experience the cultures and sounds you produce and play. What sparked your interest in Afro diaspora sounds ?

ANDY: Thank you thank you! Well I think just growing up between Toronto and New York put me around Afro Caribbean culture and music a lot, even though as a kid it was sometimes hard to see beyond hip hop. But when I was a bit older and I realized that hip hop was a part of a whole world of Afro diaspora sounds, as you say, it helped me kind of break free of the language boundaries and start listening to music from all over the place and I became really interested in the connections and relationships between music genres.

AFROCONEX: One thing we love about you is that you cover a wide spectrum of Afro and Afro diaspora sounds. Your collaborations with Pierre is an example of that. How did this collaboration come about ?

ANDY: Pierre is one of the founders of the Moonshine collective in Montreal and they invited me out to DJ back in their first year of doing events and we just all hit it off and I started going back really regularly to play with them. I used to stay at Pierre’s apartment when I was in Montreal and one afternoon after an all night party we started playing around with some ideas while Pierre made some food, a few hours later we had a rough song written. We’ve now worked on music together in New York, Toronto, Montreal, New Orleans, Kinshasa, Lisbon and probably other cities I’m forgetting.

AFROCONEX: Discovering new artists and new sounds is something we know we can expect from you. For those who are unfamiliar with Pierre, can you give us an intro to artist ?

ANDY: Pierre is a really diverse artist. He’s Kinshasa born, Montreal based and he sings in French, Lingala and English and his songs can range from the most beautiful, sexy, love songs to afro house bangers. I love working with Pierre because he’s open and curious as an artist and just about every song we’ve made together is in a different style and genre but his voice is unmistakeable on a track with his beautiful harmonies. His new album just won the Polaris Music Prize and features production from the likes of Branko and Michael Brun (and myself).

AFROCONEX: Your track Baluka features Pierre Kwenders and it is a banger. What does Baluka mean, and why was this sound chosen for the track ?

ANDY: From early on Pierre and I bonded over our love for Coupé Decalé from Côte d’Ivoire and Congolese Soukous. Also Baluka was made in the pandemic and during that time I found myself much more drawn to older music like soukous and salsa, songs with longer more patient forms that create a world you can live inside of for a while, rather than the highly edited and right to the point form of pop music. So I think Baluka reflects those older influences a lot as well as drawing from the modern sound of afro house in Congo. Baluka means 'Turn' but for more lyrical interpretation you'll have to ask Pierre ;)

AFROCONEX: You often visit the countries that inspire the sounds you produce. Why is that an important part of your creative process ?

ANDY: Music feels different in the place where it lives. Experiencing the way a community interacts with the music, on the streets, in cars and buses, in the club, it changes the way you understand it. And it’s not always just local music, listening to Congolese music in Colombia, Jamaican music in Ghana or Dominican music in New York I think deepens your understanding of the music and of how cultures are connected. And in that way I think you can learn so much even without leaving the country but maybe just by leaving your comfort zone because of course traveling is a privilege and you can’t always travel but in fact music and culture travel much more freely than people do.

AFROCONEX: You visited Congo with Pierre to produce your collaboration tracks. Tell us about that experience ?

ANDY: Ya Congo was amazing, we went with the whole Moonshine crew, we threw a couple parties, had a couple writing sessions and I got in the studio with MC Redbul and MC Azas two of my favorite artists from Kinshasa, and recorded the song ‘Obomi Nga’ which came out this summer. Another track ‘Lelo’ that I have with Sarah Kalume was released while we were there and I got to catch it on local radio a few times as we sat in Kinshasa traffic haha. Generally I met a lot of great people and ate a lot of great food, so ya I can’t wait to go back!

AFROCONEX: Congo is a culture that has a rich musical history, and the urban sounds coming from Congo are infectious, yet we don’t hear much of it in NYC. why do you think that is ?

ANDY: Well there’s a number of reasons, of course economic factors first and foremost. Its not a coincidence that Nigerian afrobeats has exploded internationally while Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. But I also think that as musical genres have become more fluid in recent years the thing that really separates music markets is language and its very hard to break into an english language market with music even in French let alone Lingala, Swahili or Tshiluba.

AFROCONEX: For the upcoming show with Pierre, both you and AQ are on the decks. What can we expect from that show ?

ANDY: Pierre of course is doing his live show and AQ and I are there to keep you dancing! You know AQ is the queen of the South African sound in New York, and me I’ll be building bridges between the genres, playing some more Congolese afro house and tying it to South Africa via Angola and who knows where else we’ll end up!

AFROCONEX: Can we expect from you more Congolese collaborations in the future ?

ANDY: Absolutely, I even still have another track with MC Azas yet to drop!

AFROCONEX: What are the sounds that are really catching your attention these days ?

ANDY: To keep it on topic I gotta shout out the electronic music scene in Congo, from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi there is a lot of inspiring dance music from artists like DJ P2N. And of course amapiano is taking over the world and I’m all for it but South Africa is doing more than just amapiano, from afrohouse to afrotech to gqom the whole dance music scene there is really exciting right now. And on this side of the Atlantic Dominican Dembow is what’s popping in the streets in NY and I think the genre is going through a growth spurt so I’m excited to see what’s coming.

Check out the Invisible Kids Goma dancing to Baluka by Uproot Andy + Pierre Kwenders

Be sure to follow @Uprootandy

And Check out his mixes and music:

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