Boogieman and Samito have the honour of closing 2020’s hybrid edition of MUTEK, up just before the final performance, by Poirier. That’s a stage that’ll turn up the heat. Remaining seated will be a challenge for the spectators in the hall, taunted by the roaring bass of the duo’s flagship title, “Wasa Bibi”, and by the solar energy of the two companions, accompanied by VJ Danica Olders.
Longtime friends Boogieman and Samito hadn’t planned to work together. Things happened naturally. The former brings energetic analog compositions, the latter, lyrics sung in Portuguese, the official language of his native Mozambique. A unique blend, explained in detail during a videoconference meeting (a first for all three of us).
PAN M 360: “Kussom” is the name you give to the musical genre you’ve created, can you tell me more about its meaning?
Samito: Basically, it’s a mix of genres of music and the word som, which is “sound” in Portuguese. What happened was that when we started working on the second song with James [Benjamin, aka Boogieman], I realized that some of the beats he had created made me think about batida, which is a sound from Angola. It then became closer to kuduro, and so the first syllable was the ku and then I put som after it, which is a ku-som, so meaning the “sound of the ku”.
Boogieman: Calling it a name gives us the possibility of having a grasp on what we’re doing, which is to create a new sound. Exploring something new in a world such as music where there’s so much thought given to the analytical aspect of music and where you fit, what it is, what genres are combined… I found it harder to classify, especially with us working together, so by classifying ourselves we can kind of preempt a little bit of that conversation.
PAN M 360: There are also Japanese cultural elements in your “Wasa Bibi” video, are there other important influences that feed into the project?
Samito: The breeding ground of all sound is Montreal. When we worked on that video – actually we didn’t do it, it was a 17-year-old who’s now 18 – we wanted to open the platform for him to create and explore different directions, just as we were. His generation compared to mine is more into Japanese anime, and he wanted to go there. I think we live in a city where we can experiment with many things and there are many growing influences.
PAN M 360: You are not just creative collaborators but close friends, how do you work together?
Boogieman and Samito: Really, there’s no process. We spend a lot of time together. When we’re at the studio and we start playing something, if we find it interesting, we jump into it, and then suddenly it starts gaining life. It’s more a jam in the process. If we can talk about “Wasa Bibi”, it was really joking around, like singing Danica Olders’ artist name, “Wasa Bibi, Wasa Bibi”… and it made it all the way to the final thing, we weren’t really able to replace it. You can’t fake that kind of feeling or recreate it, it’s spontaneous and authentic.
PAN M 360: Samito, you’re a musician trained in music school. Boogieman, your learning comes from outside the institutions. How did you manage to combine your approaches?
Samito: I think for me, it was very easy because if you look at things that I did before, I’ve always been more interested in exploring certain possibilities of sounds, or getting a different rhythm from somewhere else, and then put it in a context that is completely opposite, to see what comes out. I think the first time when Boogieman called me, he was like, “I have this modular synth, I want you to come see it.” I went to his place, I was like, “I think there’s so much that can happen if we open our minds and just dive into it .” And we did.
PAN M 360: Your visual signature is as colourful as your music, it ’s the result of a collaboration with Danica Olders.
Boogieman: The whole visual aesthetic of Boogieman is pretty deeply ingrained in collaboration with Danica; her vision, her aesthetics often go against the grain. I think the sound of the project is so open that it actually allows place for someone who can take it even further. She’s really a multidisciplinary artist.
PAN M 360: How’s this visual dimension going to be expressed during your performance?
Boogieman: We have the intention of taking people on a bit of a trip! Like the fact that you might see nothing at times… Not to give away too much, but it is just as impactful as all those things you see. I think that’s cool because it leaves room for the sound to be experienced, and then at times, the sound can be very minimal and the visuals can take over.
PAN M 360: You’re performing dance music, music for the body, how do you feel about playing in front of a very small, seated crowd?
Samito: I don’t know, what I’m telling myself is, whatever’s going to happen is a challenge in a new way of making music. I don’t know if jumping around and dancing for me will make sense, I don’t know how people are going to react. It’s almost like we have to re-learn how to play a show, and also learn how people will fit in. It can be exciting!