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Friday, June 26, 2009

Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: DJ Said

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 6:18 AM

Nigerian born producer / promoter /label owner DJ Said came into this world from the same corner of the globe as Fela Kuti, and he's just as addicted to spreading Afro Beat to the masses--although he blends those sounds into myriad dancefloor styles. After a stint in England, Said settled in the Bay Area and has built a following through his DJ sets, his Atmosfere parties, and his Afro House label, Fatsouls Records.

His events combine turntables with live musicians performing on an array of African instruments: tonight's party at Otis includes a set by Nigerian talking drum player Rasaki Aladokun, who spent over two decades in King Sunny Ade's band. It promises to be a special evening, as it also marks the release of Mr. Raoul K's single, "Sun Of Gao." Promise not to bring up any Milli Vanilli requests (see below) and Said has a whole lotta excellent suggestions for further listening below. He already made an Ofege fan out of us.

Name: Said Adelekan (DJ Said)

Club night(s): I present Afro Joint from time to time at rotating venues and I also present various Fatsouls Records one-offs.

Style(s) of music you spin:  Afro Beat, Disco, House, Techno.

So what's your story, in 100 words or less?  I grew up in the very same community in Lagos, Nigeria that produced the legendary Fela Kuti. From a very young age I have been passionate about music, absorbing and collecting music and mixes. With my strong musical foundation, I moved in 1984 from Lagos to pursue academics in England. While in England,  I was exposed to the London underground club scene. Upon moving to the U.S. in 1988, I became more fascinated with the music scene and soon started to DJ in clubs in San
Francisco and New York. I later founded Fatsouls, a music outlet, as well as my monthly "Atmosfere" events. I have since produced house music for different labels and currently run Fatsouls Records.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head: "Gbe Mi Lo" by Ofege (Try and Love album) This Afro Rock masterpiece was produced in 1973 by Ofege, a band of high school students from Nigeria.

Name of an artist you're currently championing in your DJ sets: Tony Allen : Secret Agent.

Being that you're from Nigeria originally, how do you work Nigerian music into your sets and events?  I work a lot of Afro Beat, Afro Funk and other traditional African music into my set by mixing them with other western dance music. I also like to work in live percussion elements like bongo, conga and talking drum and sometime spoken words during my events.

How does being from outside the US inform your work as a DJ and label owner? I believe that coming from the motherland with a strong musical background gives me an edge and a knowledge of different rhythms. I have the African rhythm ingrained in my soul. I like to produce and play music with African influence. Living in Europe in the 80's also gave me an insight into the western music culture and club scene.

The latest release from your Fatsouls label is by Mr. Raoul K, who incorporates the N'goni (African guitar) into his "Sun of Gao" single. How does the African guitar differ from its American counterpart? An N'goni guitar differs from the American guitar in that it is a hollowed out small instrument with a big sound. The shape is different from the American

guitar. N'goni guitar usually has anywhere from 4 strings to 7 strings, no frets, and varies in tone. The tone sustains less than the American guitar.

Musical mantra: Music's got me!

Favorite DJ experience: Playing @ Deep Space (Cielo, NY) with Francois K during my "To Motherland" record release tour. I had a great time playing on the infamous Cielo sound system. The night was brilliant.

Worst request: I got a request for Milli Vanilli once while DJing at a spot in San Jose!! The person actually brought me the CD to play.

Worst club faux pas you've committed: The day I played a 3-hour set with just 12 vinyls without anyone knowing. I mistakenly brought a bag of wrong sounds and luckily pulled it off.

Most treasured vinyl score: Confusion by Fela Kuti. This album is one my favorites of all his older albums.

What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I'm currently working on several upcoming Fatsouls releases. "Long Story," with mixes by Jerome Sydenham, due out in July. "Abuja," number 2 release by Mr. Raoul K & also a Fatsouls Afrobeat compilation.

What's something happening in the local music scene that should be getting more attention?  I think people should pay more attention to the events and promoters in the East Bay. Oakland is becoming a staple of house music with parties like the Brothers and SistersThe People Party, Aficianado and more. There is definitely a good vibe out there.

What elements would your fantasy club night entail? My fantasy club is a club that has a fantastic sound system (i.e Funktion One, Richard Long) and also a very open minded, enthusiastic and educated dance music audience.

Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself:  I ask myself when clubs are going to start posting DJ etiquette rules by the DJ booth - like they do at Body & Soul in NYC. People need to know not to make stupid requests or bother a DJ when in the mix.

Next time we can see you spin:
"Sun of Gao" record release party this Friday, June 26 @ Otis SF.  Hope to see you all there!

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Ian S. Port


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