An Interview With Aicha Daffe
19 April 2018
In one week we'll be launching our latest exhibition, Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness. As well as getting the chance to have a first look at this critically-acclaimed exhibition when it arrives in Nottingham, we'll also have music in the Cafébar from Nottingham based British-Senegalese DJ Aïcha Daffé.
We caught up with Aïcha to learn more about her and find out what to expect from her set.
Aïcha, we are so excited to have you back to DJ the launch of our new exhibition, Zanele Muholi. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us!
Hi, thanks for having me back!
You're a member of SheAfriq, a collective of creative women of African descent here in Nottingham. Can you tell us a bit about that?
SheAfriq began as several conversations I had had with different creative black women within Nottingham about issues we were facing or feelings we were having such as isolation, tackling tokenism, racism and ignorance in our professional lives and a hunger to form a supportive network. I got everyone together in what started as a Facebook group, we then met and talked about what we each wanted to get out of working together and SheAfriq as it exists today was born; a space for us to inspire each other, work together through any individual problems we may be having, seek advice on existing work or collaborate on new projects! We are all very proud of what our group has become.
How did you get in to DJing?
Growing up in my household I am convinced that it would be impossible for me not to adore music. Whether it was listening to my big sister's soul and R&B cassettes in our shared bedroom, my brother's copy of 2Pac's All Eyez On Me playing way too loud on repeat through the wall, or my parents' extensive Pan-African record collection over family dinners, music influenced me from early on, and my hunger to collect different sounds grew and grew. The inspiration to turn it in to a job came when I was studying for my Fine Art degree in Brighton: A city buzzing with so much creative energy that making a modest living out of what I loved to do seemed very possible, everyone seemed to be doing it! I began running a few student nights spinning hip-hop and R&B and after coming back to Notts I never stopped.
The last time you DJed here, it was at the launch of Sounds Like Her. What was that experience like?
It was beautiful! I played a set full of music from British women of colour spanning decades, from the 40s up 'til now, and there was so much love in the room for it. The selection seemed to resonate with lots of people for lots of different reasons and it was really nice to see people come together over that.
What did you think of the Sounds Like Her exhibition?
I loved it, it was right up my street. I was particularly in awe of Sonia Boyce's Devotional series, a list of names of female artists of colour from the UK affectionately hand drawn in a wallpaper-like installation. It definitely inspired the set that I put together that night. I played a track at one point by local artist ABII (who was there at the exhibition launch) and Sonia approached her about adding her name to the installation!
What sort of music can we expect to hear at this launch event?
You will definitely be hearing some South African house music! That is what first came to mind when I was asked to play at this particular exhibition, knowing of Zanele Muholi's background on the South African creative scene. One of my good friends Sho Madjozi is a South African rapper, and through listening to her music and observing the scene she is a part of I have gained a real love for contemporary South African music. I have been listening to it a lot lately and I am really excited about putting a set together situating it into a wider Pan-African context, because electronic African music is so dope, I have a big catalogue of beats that I love, and I am not one to restrict myself with borders if I can help it! I am confident I will get everybody moving.
What do you think of Zanele Muholi's work?
I was lucky to have encountered Zanele Muholi's work at the South African Pavilion at Venice Biennale 4 and a bit years ago, and was just reminded of this fact when I saw that their work was coming here to New Art Exchange!
It is extremely important, in my opinion, that artists use their work to communicate their personal experience effectively whether that be to outsiders, or as a healing form of catharsis within a like-minded community. It becomes even more necessary however, when this work has the potential to communicate the destructive potential of discrimination, hate crimes and the unnecessary suffering of vulnerable groups at the hands of others. From what I have seen of Zanele Muholi's work I must say, it does this beautifully.
I am really excited to get a look around Somnyama Ngonyama for this reason. What a treat for Nottingham!
Catch Aïcha DJing at the launch of Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness on Friday 27 April, 6pm - 9pm. Reserve your free place.
Images by: Bartosz Kali