5 Minutes with Kampire

Kampire is a key member of the Nyege Nyege Collective that has been championing the sound of east Africa to world-wide acclaim since 2015. Kampire is a DJ, writer, cultural activist and organiser with a proud and uncompromising creative outlook. She has recently completed a Rinse FM residency that saw her highlighting a number of young African artists she loves.

Her ability behind the decks has her in high demand this year and we are grateful for the time Kampire has taken in the midst of her busy US-Europe-UK tour to answer some questions.

Listen to the last episode of Kampire’s Rinse residency below and read on to get to know more about Kampire:

Hi, thank you for your time. How are you and what are you up to today?

I’m currently on the train to Reims to play at La Magnifique Society tonight. 

What inspires you on a daily basis? How do you stay motivated?

I’m motivated by how lucky I am to get to experience this! It’s such a privilege to get to play for people across the world and to connect to them through the music I love. Travel is important to me so to get to do it as a professional DJ is dope.

I’m excited and inspired by music (obviously). That spark I get when I hear a song for the first time and I can’t wait to play it out is what gets me excited about playing.

There’s so much great music coming out of the Nyege studios and Uganda and east Africa generally. Being able to bring it to a wider audience is an honour that I cherish. Also exploring all the diasporic connections through music, between Congo and Colombia or St Lucian soca and kuduro or gqom and hard drum definitely gives me an emotional, intellectual and physical buzz.

As a core member of the burgeoning Nyege Nyege Tapes, what would you say is central to the labels motivations and aspirations?

Nyege Tapes explores outsider music from east Africa and the world and they’ve done a great job of introducing the world to sounds that don’t fit the typical narrative of “African” music. It’s a lesson for outsiders but I think it also poses a corrective for the way we value and market African music. Acholitronix music for example is amazing dance music, but in Uganda you tend to hear it at only Acholi parties and events. Nyege Nyege is still one of very few events in Kampala that has given it a mainstream platform.

Similarly Nyege Tapes catalogues the work of traditional musicians like Ekuka who have had long careers but have never had their work collected and pressed on vinyl and tape. 

Now there’s also Hakuna Kulala which is a digital label and sister to Nyege Tapes which releases the weird and wonderful explorations coming from producers and MCs at the Nyege studio like Rey Sapiens, Don Zilla and Mc Yallah

Which past Nyege Nyege Festival act has been your favourite or most memorable?

Oh gosh, Nyege Nyege festival is a revelation every year so it’s so hard to pick just one. DJ Marcelle closed the festival a couple of years ago and there were just a few of us left on Monday morning in the rain so she invited the entire audience on stage to dance with her. Marcelle reminds me to give less of a fuck about what people think and just play.

I loved seeing Bryte at Nyege Nyege last year because he’s such a charismatic performer and we need to see more of him on the African continent. 

Last year seeing the Rehema Tahiri and Sisso and the whole Singeli crew shell down the tropical stage was pretty revelatory. Seeing Singeli music performed with dancers and multiple killer MCs and DJs added a new layer to the music for me.

Tell us a little about your Rinse FM residency. How did you approach it? How did you select your guests?

The Rinse residency was my first experience with radio so it was great to get my toes wet and have a supportive audience that could grow with me.

It was important for me to showcase the amazing DJs and producers we have in Kampala and the continent at large. So I played lots of new music and mixes from people like Faizal Mostrixx, Rey Sapienz, Hibotep and Catudiosis 

Are you happy with the progress being made in the music scene with regards to diversity or is there still a lot more work to be done?

Yeah I don’t think we’ve reached parity or equity yet but I’m excited to see women and other minorities who are killing it in electronic music in Kampala and all over. People are putting in the work so hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the systems and structures that govern begin to recognize that hard work.

You have had a very busy year and have a lot to look forward to still. What are the highs and lows of being an internationally in-demand DJ?

As I’ve said I love to travel so going to far flung places I never thought I’d get to and connecting with people who share my interests is great.

The shitty part is spending lots of time in transit and in airports takes a lot out of you. Also visa and immigration bureaucracy is painful, humiliating and expensive. Fuck borders, basically

You are also a writer. What topics and ideas do you focus on in your writing and where can we find your work?

I’m interested in contemporary African culture, art and music and when I’m pretty good about updating the about page on my blog vuga.wordpress.com/about where my published writings are collected.

Famous last words?

Power to the people of Sudan and their revolutionary sit in.

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Photograph of Kampire ©️ Darlyne Komukama

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