Nyege Nyege Tapes to showcase at SA’s National Arts Fest

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Uganda – Ugandan electro label Nyege Nyege Tapes will showcase a number of African electro genres at South Africa’s National Arts Festival (NAF), which will be hosted virtually between 25 June and 5 July.

Nyege Nyege will showcase electro styles like Acholi (Uganda), singeli (Tanzania), balani show (Mali), gqom (South Africa), (Kenya) and elone (Gabon), curated by the pioneers of these respective scenes. The label will also feature artists Duma (Kenya), MC Yallah (Uganda), Afrorack (Uganda) and HHY & the Kampala Unit (Uganda).

“It’s an absolute honour to be invited by the National Arts Festival,” Nyege Nyege co-founder Derek Debru told Music In Africa. “South Africa has such a diverse and bubbling music culture that’s always inspired us. So we’re also happy to bring something back and hopefully get the South African audiences interested in our music.”

Debru is also the organiser of the annual Nyege Nyege Festival. Although he is yet to make any major announcements concerning the festival, he says the COVID-19 crisis has been tough on Nyege Nyege and its artists.

“We have lost over 100 shows and have 16 artists in lockdown at our residency,” he said. “However, this crisis has triggered a lot of new connections and the renewed understanding that African underground music scenes need to know each other more and help build each other up.”

Debru says Nyege Nyege Tapes, which recently partnered with Belgian music publisher Strictly Confidential, would continue to work with creators and engage platforms like the NAF to widen its pan-African network of artists, labels and festivals.

“Many of the artists we work with are known and widely respected within their countries. On the other hand, we do also work with small underground artists, some of whom have started to learn production from our community studios.”

“We try to keep an ear to the ground across countries by being connected to artists, music journalists, labels and music lovers. We focus our energy on the talent in the region first, and use the festival as a platform to connect with artists from other countries so that exchanges and collaborations can happen,” he said.

NAF announced that it would go digital in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown in South Africa. Indigenous musician Madosini is this year’s featured artist and will be the subject of an 11-part documentary. Every year, the festival pays tribute to an artist who has made a significant mark on the country’s art scene.

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