5 minutes with...Buraka Som Sistema

As ‘Black Diamond’ continues to tear through the club circuit, we decided to sit down with Buraka Som Sistema and ask them a few q's about kuduro, the booty-clapping sound they’ve taken from the streets of Angola and Lisbon to the rest of the world…

fabric: If your sound, if kuduro, was a colour, what would it be?
Joao: Red, lots of reds.
Rui: I can tell you what I see – I see yellow and purple, always.
fabric: That sounds about right actually. It'd have to be bright and fun.
Rui: And if kuduro was an animal, what would it be?!
fabric: …if kuduro was a trainer, would it be Nike or Reebok?!
Joao: I think it would be more Reebok. Our kuduro is more Nike, but the original kuduro was Reebok. Cheesy Reeboks.
fabric: Uh oh, we're on to something. Explain…
Joao: We have to edit a lot of original kuduro tracks. The original kuduro is…
Rui: It’s rougher. It’s kind of – well, I don't like to use this word lightly but –it's a lot more tribal than our kuduro. It's more repetitive and loopy and sometimes they'll play the same sample for 16 bars, and they have this whistle every three bars…
Joao: (imitates the whistle) The whole thing started with guys in Africa trying to play techno, and that's what they came up with.
Rui: And then you had the dance. The dance was really the main factor for the development of kuduro. I think the dance was even there before the sound.
Joao: It was all about choreography. (starts doing the dance)
fabric: The Macarena?
Joao: Yeah, similar!
fabric: Kinda looks like Skepta's 'Rolex Sweep' too.Joao: If you went to an African club in Lisbon in the '90s, in '96, '97, there were no clubs that played strictly kuduro; you'd get lots of different sounds and then maybe half an hour of kuduro. And the moment the kuduro started, the whole club would break out into the same dance, almost like line dancing. Everyone knows all the moves.
fabric: Like a country western club?
Rui: Yeah, and each tune had this move, a specific move. The name of the tune was the name of the move.
Joao: It's very lyrical, like there's a song right now which in Portuguese means 'At The Wheel,' so the move looks like you're driving, the steering wheel. They import lots of styles and moves from Jamaica.
Rui: There was a song back in the day called 'The Frog,' and the move was like – ah, you can imagine. And there's a song called 'Mother's Club,' and the move looks like an old lady on a cane.
fabric: Is it like that today still?
Joao: A little bit, yeah. Now what's happening is that because it's becoming so big, they imported all the hip hop mentalities. So now it's more about MCs than about dancing and instrumentals – now it's just MCs saying how bad they are and how gangsta they live. The songs are about 10 minutes these days and all the groups have about 10 MCs and, when it's live, it’s a little bit uninteresting; it gets too complicated at times.
Rui: And they have this weird thing with intros, they'll just chat for 15 minutes in the beginning without music.
Joao: But sometimes they'll tell their whole life story in that time, or talk about what they did that week – like, "yesterday I was leaving my house and I saw so and so…and then I thank to God because…and meet my crew…" - and then the song finally starts after an hour of shout-outs! It's very religious, very dancehall.

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