Originally from Los Angeles and rocked by all the house, funk, Latin and bass music that could be heard there, Bianca Oblivion has forged a musical identity that is recognisable between thousands of people over the years. Hyperactive in the studio, she has released no less than ten tracks and remixes this year, including Bad Gyal, a banger of bangers, which has had time to echo for a few months in underground clubs around the world, and many other projects to come. Before making her rhythms echo on the dancehall-afrobeat scene of Treesome, the DJ-producer looks back at the emergence of these infinitely rich genres from Africa and the Caribbean.
How would you define afrobeat? And dancehall?
Afrobeat and dancehall are both genres rooted in the music of the African diaspora. Afrobeat incorporates elements of pop, hip hop and RnB, while dancehall is inspired by Jamaican MCs and sound system culture.
How did these genres develop?
Dancehall is undeniably embedded in the cultural fabric of London and the UK. The UK is historically linked to Jamaica, as it was under colonial rule, and more recently during the Windrush period. It is incredible to hear how dancehall and Jamaican soundsystem culture has permeated all forms of dance music in the UK, especially during the Notting Hill Carnival, it is unheard of. New York’s dancehall scene is also very vibrant, as there is a strong Caribbean connection and a historical link between the emergence of New York hip-hop and Jamaican soundsystems. In Los Angeles, the connection is not as strong, but we have people from all over the world, DJs and parties that incorporate dancehall into their sets, but I would say that a lot of the dance elements are not fully developed at the parties.
Do you think that this genre is sufficiently developed in the line-up of festivals in France?
Treesome will be my first festival in France, so it’s hard for me to say, but in general, in European festivals, I don’t see many dancehall artists represented.
And in the media?
Despite the profound influence that dancehall has had on popular music, I think that unfortunately it doesn’t get the media coverage it deserves.
Where does your love for dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeat rhythms come from?
I grew up as a dancer and was very attached to Afro/Latin rhythms because of the power of the drums and percussion. I used to take dance classes with drummers, and it was really amazing to be able to play with that kind of visceral energy. It’s a feeling I want to get back into what I produce. It’s the rhythms that attract me the most.
Personally, I don’t define myself as a “dancehall DJ” (or afrobeats) and I’m not an expert by any means, even though I love it and play it a lot in my sets. I am, by and large, an international club DJ, drawing inspiration and music from many different cultures, many of which are rooted in the African diaspora – baile funk, reggaeton, batida, kuduro, bubbling, soca, shatta, dembow, etc.
How do you integrate all this concretely in your productions? In your sets?
My productions are very much rooted in rhythm and percussion. I usually start with a drum pattern or, if I start with a sample or synth, I immediately lay down a rhythm that carries it and continue to build around it. My sets go through many tempos and genres, but the common thread is the emphasis on strong, hard beats, whether it’s a jersey club track, jungle or baile funk.
How do you explain the development of dancehall in the clubs in recent years?
I think there has been a huge shift towards more global sounds, including dancehall. The DJing landscape has become much more diverse, with DJs from all over the world coming in to represent the sounds of their city, their culture, as well as drawing inspiration from other artists. I also think that more and more DJs are open to mixing different genres. Maybe there was a containment effect. We were listening to streams from all over the world, it was a massive cultural exchange.
What is the link between dancehall music and electronic music? How do these two styles communicate and since when?
Modern dance music has been created using samplers, machines, computers, etc. It is only natural that these sounds have evolved along with other electronic music. So it’s only natural that these sounds have evolved along with other electronic music, with producers taking inspiration from production trends and borrowing techniques and sounds from other genres. I think there has always been that communication, but there was obviously an established link between British electronic music and dancehall, as I mentioned earlier.
Do you only participate in dancehall events or do you mix styles every time?
I’ve done dancehall events before, but no, I don’t usually play only dancehall. I always mix the different styles and build my sets according to each party I attend.
What are your plans for this year?
I have a single coming out with my colleague ONHELL, which will be released on NAAFI on April 28th. I also have an EP coming out with Sam Binga on his label Pineapple Records. I will be releasing a video for my track ‘EZ 4 Me’ as well as 3 artists working on remixes! I also have several remix projects in the works for artists I really like.
Can you name three effective tracks that you play in clubs?
My Selecta track
Any track from Disaffected
DJ FELYPINHO 013 – Bota na Pipokinha
Any artists to recommend?
The list is endless, but my partners at Warp Mode, Star Eyes and AK Sports, an up-and-coming Bay Area DJ, Yuca Frita, and countless others I draw inspiration from, including Bambii, Jubilee, Amadeezy, Madam X, Miley Serious, Bored Lord, Jamz Supernova, Introspekt, Scratchclart x Lady Lykez, Mapamota, Spiñorita, Half Queen, the Dembooty crew, Lady Shaka, Ariel Zetina, Disaffected, Patrick, Florentino, King Doudou, Habibeats, Saliah, Kikelomo, Manuka Honey and many others.
Les artistes sont là !
- Dancehall & Afrobeat No chance to miss the rhythms of this afrofuturist bubble nestled in the trees initiated by Maraboutage, the brats from Marseille, who know the magic recipe to bewitch the dancefloors.
- House A sunny and joyful enclave of the event, the meeting place for diggers and other demanding ears, between disco, house and funky rhythms. Something to fill up with good vibes until the sun comes up.
- Techno Drops of sweat, vigorous kicks, a few ecstatic eyes and tapping feet: the nervous core of the festival, with the best signatures of the techno scene, from confirmed to young talents.