Couper Decaler‘s new album, New Black comes straight from the banlieus’ of Paris via the Ivory Coast. Packed with Afro-futurism, tumbling beats and bags of swag(er) the project is heavy with an anarchistic and shameless attitude. To get an idea of what and who is behind the project we had a chat with director Monika Gintersdorfer, who organised the stage performance which was the original inspiration for the album.
Where did Couper Decaler come from?
Couper Decaler was invented in the 2002/2003 in Paris by a group of young Ivorian men, who called themselves “La Jet Set”. Their leader named himself after the president Douk Saga and they created the style, dance moves and important slogans, that define Couper Decaler. The group has an anarchistic, shameless and competitive spiri,t that involves showing off a lot in a very creative way. The outstanding, subversive act was to change the social order by using the names of important roles like the banker, the ambassador, Sarkozy, Lino Versace etc. At the same time in 2002 there were DJs and musicians in Ivory Coast working on mainly congolese beats and changing them into what you call today Couper Decaler beats. “When it rains in Paris, it is getting wet in Abidjan and the other way round” – Ivorians in Paris are always in direct contact with Abidjan.
And they transferred the sound back to Abidjan?
Yes, in 2003 La Jet Set came to Abidjan and took over the music market in an artistic coup. It became very successfull very fast and today it is the leading club music in Ivory Coast spreading to other West African Countries.
Who produced the New Black album?
New Black was produced with Couper Decaler’s star singers and producers in collaboration with European and American singers and producers, so it is not a pure Couper Decaler album. It is an absolutely new combination with the individual influences of participants such as Ted Gaier and Melissa Logan. It has a big Couper Decaler impact as Skelly, Shaggy Sharoof Gadoukou la Star and Champy Kilo are protagonists of this scene. But I must stress, it is not a pure Couper Decaler album. It is something absolutely new! New Black!
Who was the driving force?
The theatre director Monika Gintersdorfer and the artist Knut Klaßen are the driving forces. Since 2004 they have being working with Ivorian dancers and singers in collaboration with German artists and in 2010 and 2011 they created a project named Rue Princesse , where they invited Erobique, Jacques Palminger, Melissa Logan, Nadine Jessen and Ted Gaier to come to Abidjan and join their Ivorian team to perform theatre and music in differnet spaces all over the city. So they’ve already done some hot club performances in Abidjan. Later they also included Timor Litzenberger as producer to their team doing more songs in Hamburg, Berlin and Krems in the context of Gintersdorfer/Klaßen festivals.
Can you tell us anything about the music scene in Abidjan?
Abidjan is known as a showbiz hot spot, where people from all over Africa like to produce music and do their promo. Popular styles are Couper Decaler, Zouglou, Reggae, Zouk. Abidjan has thousands of clubs in all categories and the population loves to go out. Very famous is a street full of clubs named Rue Princesse.
How was the experience of having the production between Abidjan, Paris and Hamburg?
In Abidjan we went to the studio of Champy Kilo and Elvis Segonde to produce there. Erobique also set up an improvised studio in our home to prepare the songs advised by Shaggy Sharoof in Couper decaler style. In Berlin we improvised in a studio at Haus der Kulturen der Welt during our festival and in Hamburg we worked at Kampnagel studio and later on in Timor Litzenberger’s studio in Krems. At Donaufestival we also set up ourselves an improvised studio. Monika Gintersdorfer did the translation between the Ivorians and the Germans, sometimes proposing topics or texts for the song and. The producers worked in collaboration exchanging sounds and ideas – so there was a lot of teamwork going on. Every song reflects the mixture of the individual approach of the participants – so you will hear them all
Is a tour planned?
Shows in march Hamburg, Berlin (March 4th. at About Blank), maybe Leipzig and we are also planning to perform in Abidjan later in this year
How was the project financed? Did you receive any funding?
It was financed by Gintersdorfer/Klaßen foundation and partnerships, that they got for their festivals for theater, dance and music performances. It was mainly financed by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes
Where else can we listen to the sound of Couper Decaler?
You can listen to some music over at www.ivoirmixdj.com of Abidjan and all over West Africa.
Will the album be released in the Ivory Coast/Africa?
First of all we bring it to the clubs in Abidjan. Then when people love it, we will think of a release.
Published January 09, 2012.