Ten Cities is an idea to link musicians, DJs and producers from five cities in Africa with musicians from five cities in Europe.
The reason why a trend, a beat or a dance catches on far away from its source could be compared to how a seed that passes through a bird's alimentary canal ends far away from where it was ingested. If it is one of those migratory birds, say a stork, it might mean ending up in a different country or even continent altogether.
The reason why the city of Bristol did more than most cities - except Kingston, of course - to foster a bass and drum culture in Europe is quite simple. It was West Indian migrants, Jamaicans especially, who had settled in Bristol who brought the music that Lee Perry, King Tubby and others cooked up.
Sometimes the process is not as organic, as in Ten Cities, an initiative by the Goethe Institut. The idea was to link musicians, DJs and producers from five cities in Africa with musicians from five other cities in Europe.
Explaining the rationale of the project, the visiting director of Goethe Institut in Kenya, Johannes Hossfeld, said: "We thought about looking at society from a strange perspective, that of its night life. Their pairings were not obvious. It is not the obvious choices; we could have gone for Barcelona, London, Paris … "
It was not the hackneyed pairing: Lisbon was not coupled with Luanda, nor was Paris married to Abidjan; for this project Johannesburg was paired with Kiev, the capital of Ukraine; Naples was twinned with Luanda; Bristol was chained to Lagos; Cairo was wed to Berlin and Nairobi with Lisbon. One wishes that Francophone Africa had been included in the project; I am thinking especially of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire).
DJs, producers and musicians from the twin cities were holed up in marathon studio sessions for up to two weeks to come up with something new, something that references the city and the scene of the other. The idea was to enable "them to produce music together and exchange their knowledge about the club scenes in their countries," according to a press release.
Hossfeld said the idea was to "connect scenes that are not already connected". The Johannesburg-Kiev connection mediated by the Germans will mean Ukrainian deep house/bass musicians Vakula and Dubmasta will co-produce music with South African musicians including Dirty Paraffin, Culoe De Song and Motél Mari. These musicians were chosen by experimental musician João Orecchia (also of Motel Mari) and Tsepang Ramoba (Blk Jks drummer) together with Berlin-based DJ Hannes Teichmann.
Dirty Paraffin, Vakula, Dubmasta, Hannes Teichmann and others will perform at King Kong, at 6 Verwey Street, Troyeville, Johannesburg this Friday, March 1. R50 will get you in.