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Left: rRoxymore | Right: Afrodeutsche

Pushing the envelope: Afrodeutsche & rRoxymore in conversation

Manchester-based Afrodeutsche has released productions via River Rapid, Skam and Tresor, composed for TV, film and various orchestral performances, and DJs across the UK, Europe and for BBC Radio 6 Music on her show The People’s Party. French artist rRoxymore DJs and performs live and has been a regular on Don’t Be Afraid, alongside putting out music on Timedance, Noise Manifesto, Aus Music and Smalltown Supersound. Here, as part of our series celebrating the artists on Black Artist Database's debut compilation, they discuss the balance of experimental and dancefloor elements across their productions and performances

Part of our Black Artist Database series

Afrodeutsche: “My track [on the Black Artist Database compilation] ‘A New Love’ is a combination of all things that I love sonically about hardcore, rave, and jungle, but also the classical elements that flow inside me. Those elements always come out with synths, so there are pads riding underneath everything on the track. It puts me in two places: it makes me feel like I could be reading a book, or meditating, or worshipping.”

rRoxymore: “I was trying to use more pads on ‘We Can Do’, so it’s mellow but still has my usual breakbeats. It has a new, more open kind of sound for me. I appreciate tracks with pads, because they will always sound pretty, like there is a very light veil on a track, but pads are generally not my vibe. Sometimes I feel people use pads because they can be used in a really easy way. But this time I was like, ‘Maybe I should try’.”

Afrodeutsche: “To me pads are my way of telling the story. When I was growing up I didn’t learn to read music, but I could hear chords and patterns. I could hear shapes. That developed into a language of creating almost orchestral-sounding groups of notes that ended up being pads. I love the technology, I have a Yamaha DX7 and a Kurzweil and all these synths, and I love that the narrative running through all of these synths is to give the sound space. I love pads for telling that story and holding you in the music.

“I totally understand what you’re saying about them being used in a way that is easy for a dancefloor, but I don’t see my music in that realm. I’ve never felt like I’ve made music for the dancefloor; my album is especially very difficult to play out. I can’t find space for seven-and-a-half-minute tracks that have the story being told with the melody and the pads. I live in my own world, and if someone listens to my music, I’m surprised.”

rRoxymore: “I have that feeling as well. It is difficult for me to play my own music unless I play live. I have to take a lot of distance from my tracks so I can really appreciate them as something detached from me. I’m not really good at defending my own music, and it’s not so dancefloor-ready. I’m always surprised to have tracks on a playlist or a DJ set, especially from my last album, which is not so easy to get into. It’s an amazing gift. Like you, my album tracks are also pretty long. They’re not very accessible, on purpose. I’m trying to make club bangers but I can’t!” [laughs]

Afrodeutsche: “That’s so interesting to me because making bangers is my worst nightmare! When I just started playing out live and I wasn’t DJing as much, I thought I needed to write bangers to be recognised. And then when I found out I couldn’t, and it was like, okay, I have to disregard that part of my thinking because that’s not my journey. I have to remember my identity in music and stick to it. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to make bangers, but do I want to be stuck on that banger train? No thanks, I want to refund my ticket!” [laughs]

“I work across lots of different styles of commissions now, like I’m writing for TV series at the moment, so my composer side is very, very different in that I’ll be listening to things that I will not necessarily have on the dancefloor. When I DJ, though, I’m playing everything from my youth. I was born at just the right time: parties were happening in fields and I wasn’t supposed to be there, but I was. I was in a field in Cornwall, and Aphex Twin was playing, before he was ‘Aphex Twin’.”

rRoxymore: “It’s funny, we’re really mirroring our stories! I have a similar relationship with the dancefloor. I was one of the youngest going to raves [in France]. I didn’t see Aphex Twin but I did see Daft Punk before they became Daft Punk [laughs]. But I’m the opposite in that I’m not playing the music of my youth. I can’t, even though I really cherish it. I want to play things that are contemporary, but to infuse that with the mindset of what I experienced back then.”

More in DJ Mag's Black Artist Database label feature series...

A new home: Black Artist Database on their label debut, ‘Synergy’

Chmba: one for all

Works in progress: Amaliah and NIKS in conversation

A matter of faith: Lyric Hood and DJ Holographic in conversation

Christine Kakaire is an award-winning culture journalist, critic, teacher and editor based in Berlin. Check out her website

Artwork inspired by 'Synergy' cover art by Miles Takes