Spotlight: FWD Transmissions
With FAUZIA, Crystallmess, Akua, SHE Spells Doom, and more
To support BIPOC creatives in the industry during the early days of the 2020 pandemic, we launched the FWD Transmission program. Eight producers and visual artists were paired to create a bespoke track and artwork, which we debuted exclusively on our channels.
As we wrap up UK Black history month, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the artists from the series with a special re-up for those who missed. Explore all the releases below!
UK producer FAUZIA sets the record straight with the reflective house influenced track ‘Change 4 Me’. In the track, FAUZIA directly reclaims and asserts the Black origins of house and techno, beginning with the opening line “Imagine giving birth to something so beautiful, impactful, insightful, incredible / But you don’t see that this belongs to me all because of the powers that be.”
Brazil-born, Berlin-based artist Gabriel Massan created the accompanying artwork, utilizing abstract shapes and vivid incandescent hues to reimagine the track’s bright, synthetic accents.
“I had this thought of how the people [in Congo] would do electronic music, and how it would sound.” In “Lumuenu”, Swiss-Congolese producer Mukuna celebrates the melding of his Congolese Luba tribe heritage with the sounds of Basel nightlife. The seven-minute track reimagines the traditional drums of Umutomboko ‘dance of victory’ ceremony over urgent rhythms and deep vocals.
Adding another layer to the release is artwork by Nigerian artist Chukwuka Nwobi, who blends the energy of the Umutomboko ceremony with intensely illuminated colour and costume in a shifting, lucid vision.
Basel-based producer Kombé channels ‘Black Atlantic Futurism’ in the form of “Subsumption Rhythm.” The track sees Kombé combining a sample from the late Brooklyn drill king Pop Smoke with North African style hand percussions. The result being a dance through outer space—a club track prepped for a space station rave.
The artwork is crafted by Belgian-Rwandan designer Kim Coussée and influenced by the ‘synthetic percussion, repetition, and abstraction’ she gleaned from the track.
With ‘Evom’, Senegalese-Swiss producer Mafou masterfully crafts an undeniable club banger, fusing Bristol influenced bass music and polyrhythmic West African styled percussion. The result is a six-minute journey that feels equally at home at club peak hour or drum circle trances.
On the artwork, visual artist Ann Kern captures the marriage of traditionalism and modernity with contrasting textures between the hazy monochrome figure in the background and the sharp, confrontational flashes of colour.
Paris-based artist Christelle Oyiri, aka Crystallmess, captures the dystopian crisis of 2020 with “Last Train to Chaos + Girl With the Eagle Eye.” For the composition, Oyiri envisioned a fantasy landscape with a young black girl outfitted with a mecha arm and an eagle perched on it. The character guides us through early disruption and unease to the both melancholic and heady riffs of the track’s second section.
Marseille-based painter Neïla Czermak Ichti references the pieces’ protagonist with a hand-drawn representation of ‘The Girl’ in the foreground. The landscape features a dark purple sky with foreign celestial bodies, conveying the dread of apocalypse–and the possibility of a strange elsewhere to escape to.
Discwoman associated artist Akua delivers an acid-tinged techno track challenging the societal limitations imposed on black women in post-colonial societies. Akua incorporates treated vocals, reciting iconic verses from ‘The Bridge Poem’ by Black feminist poet Kate Rushin. Amplifying the message, the track mixes sense-altering electronic percussions and dubbed synth stabs.
Australian digital artist and painter Serwah Attafuah pulls in the inspiration of early Detroit techno cover art to visualize a prosaic scene of a woman in the expanse of a submerged technological wasteland. The piece presents a young woman who has triumphed over struggle and escaped an oppressive place.
Zambian artist SHE Spells Doom (Wamya Tembo) invites us to dance the ailments away with the cathartic track “Drums of Affliction.” Tembo merges classic pan-African influences of kwaito and soukous with modern gqom and amapiano to create a functional club track driven by the feeling of “slowly locking into a trance state and escaping pain, worry, and sorrow.”
In the artwork, Igbo-American artist Jessica Udeh evokes signals of war and hidden history with a collage piece. The cover shows scattered photographs of the monarchical family of the city of Allada (located in present-day southern Benin), that was conquered by the Dohomey regime in 1724.
In the midst of the political madness of Atlanta, Georgia’s U.S. Senate run-off, Atlanta producer and DJ, Leonce, carved out time to create techno the DJ tool burner ‘Multiplexing’. Leonce employs his signature stripped-back production style, so that “what happens around the core ideas of the song is dependent on whatever other layers the DJ is using.” Unsurprisingly, the track harks back to the Jeff Mills-era of the early aughts, weaving funky, minimal, industrial, and melodic elements.
Berlin-based artist Sophie Douala interpreted the ‘trippy yet bewitching’ rhythms of ‘Multiplexing’ into a psychedelic aesthetic. With the illusion inducing colour combination, she seeks to capture a mood like “day versus night, but a bit distorted by the long hours dancing, lost in time.’’
Published October 27, 2021. Words by Phillip Allen.