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Mix 009: AliA

Mix 009Ali A
00:00 / 1:01:11

You can get a feel for AliA as a DJ by looking at the DJs feeling her. Her guest mix spots alone include Afrodeutsche on BBC 6Music, Danilo Plessow on Worldwide FM, Touching Bass and Carista on NTS, Lefto on Studio Brussells and Shyone on Balamii. That strength in depth should give a good gauge of the esteem she's held in - since breaking out in Brussells at just 17 - and the kind of sound palette she reaches for in her sets. Here, the Horst Festival and Kiosk Radio resident takes a mixtape approach to her selection; more a nod to the kaleidoscope of sounds rather than the mixing approach - so seamless it belies the bpm range.

First off, a huge thank you for donating your time to the TRTD Mix series. Why is The Right To Dance and War Child something you want to lend your support to?

All my pleasure. It’s a privilege to support this as it’s such an important cause to give attention to. To be honest I feel a little uncomfortable talking about this as I have not come into direct contact with War Child and of course because I am in a privileged situation myself. Giving some form of support and raising awareness is the least we can do.

Throughout history, people have fought for the right to dance for a variety of reasons, from the personal to the communal. Why is dancing and, more broadly, dance music such an important part of your life?

It should be a basic right for everyone, it should be made much more accessible for certain groups, even if that is sometimes not their priority. Whether in a club, even on the street, dancing is something universal that has enormous healing power for me. I try to go to the club as much as possible, if I don't have to play myself I go out to dance anyway.

Unfortunately soundsystems are often disappointing, which is an important factor for me to be a 100% in the music. That moment when you can completely lose yourself in the music in a dark club is something that transcends everything for me. There's no better feeling than that. It's liberating. You go into a kind of meditative trip and everyone's brain could use that. So let’s keep on fighting to give as many people as possible access to the dancefloor and make sure they are in a safe space of course.

Could you give us a bit of insight into your mix. 

The mix I did in general is not especially a mix I would play in a club, it feels more like a mixtape to listen to, which is danceable as well. When I have to do mixtapes I love to experiment by putting all these different genres together, I rather do this for mixtapes than playing club music (of course it overlaps). There are so many different genres, influences that all have a whole history. A history that is too often ignored and that should be recognised. Music often originated from precariousness, from the street, a self-expression that deserves attention. It is important to remember where music or a particular movement comes from. I'm always fascinated by different genres and that's also something I want to express in my mixes.

Are there any particular tracks from the mix you’d like to highlight?

Nutropic - Mental Appetizer is a track I discovered recently. For me it’s a very good example of an interesting mix between jazz and electronics. I grew up by hearing and seeing a lot of jazz concerts through my dad. He’s a big jazz freak, which I’m very happy about. He educated me on that and on a lot more. For me jazz is an important element to the dance scene, but I feel like it’s disappearing a bit. It’s an important basis for different kinds of music - like a techno or a drum & bass track can be super jazz as well in a way. It’s about grooves, rhythms, improvisation... something that I always try to include in my sets. I fell in love with this track, not sure if I would play it out in a club, but I should try to do it and maybe mix it with some techno or dubstep haha.

Are there communities or moments within dance music culture you've been apart of that have felt unifying and uplifting?

There are a lot of scenes that fascinates me, for example, I have been very fascinated by the broken beat (bruk) scene from West London. The mindset in this scene, which comes from a soundsystem culture, is super fascinating, the way that there is still real dancing is something that I have a lot of respect for. Co-op is one of the collectives that pioneered the broken beat scene. I've been able to make mixtapes for them, it feels really good to admire a scene like this and to be able to contribute to it myself. There’s so many elements going on in this genre - it’s influenced by hip-hop, acid jazz, reggae, drum & bass, techno, funk, house…. Black music. Also looking at Carnival in London, where it’s about soundsystem culture. There are many and varied soundsystems, run by many different people both men and women from different backgrounds and cultures. A flow which came from Jamaica, and represented one of the few sure ways to make money in the unstable economy in the area. Looking at Carnival nowadays, it’s so important to keep on highlighting all these movements and the accessibility for everyone to be able to dance on the streets.

On another side I’d like to mention Kiosk Radio in my hometown, as a community that is giving a lot of young artists the chance to be a part of the Brussels music scene. Offering a true platform to everyone, no matter the background or whatever. It’s an approachable way to discover dance music and be a part of the scene. What makes Kiosk unique is that it is located in the public space, near central station in a park where you get an interesting mix of all kinds of people. Everyone is welcome, has the opportunity to discover, to dance, to be part of it.

If you could go back to any dancefloor in history, what would it be and why?

Difficult one as there’s a lot of dancefloor moments in history I’d like to travel time for. Maybe not such a long journey back but I would love to experience the old Dingwalls parties. The acid jazz period. My dad used to go there. He speaks highly of it and musically it is also something I would like to dance to all night. The Dingwalls parties were known for their diverse music selections, blending genres like jazz, soul, funk, Latin, and more. They introduced audiences to rare and obscure tracks, creating a unique musical experience. There wasn't even mixing at that time. The most progressive tracks in the jazz circuit were played, people went there to really dance and listen. There was also clapping after each record. The Dingwalls events curated by Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge played a vital role in shaping the musical scene in the UK. These parties brought a wide array of unique and diverse sounds to the forefront of popular culture. Their influence on the development of music genres, club scenes, and the pursuit of musical experimentation stands as a tribute to their forward-thinking approach and unwavering commitment to presenting the vibrant tapestry of global music.

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