Hi MO LAUDI, how would you define yourself?
I’m a South African producer and DJ, and I run a small label called Globalisto. I compose electronic music, mainly Afro house, Techno, South African house and various forms of dance music with an afro twist. I am currently based in Paris.
What is your story and background?
I first went to a really bad school in a township, where we used to fight with knives during lunch break. I was then sent to a good private school, where I studied art and took piano lessons. Later, I studied marketing at the University of South Africa and then Art direction at the AAA School, which was the best school in advertising at the time. I really wanted to be a painter, but I was quite shy at the time to do what felt right for me. I found advertising more pragmatic.
How did you end up djing?
I always had a soft spot for music. It was part of my family, on top of being everywhere in South Africa. It allowed me to be free to do whatever I wanted. Music got me into writing poetry, rapping and composing. After my studies, I took over and managed a local night club in South Africa. I then went to London the year after, where there were no Afro house parties at the time. I started djing at a few places and got residencies, among which the Joburg project, which was the first weekly club night dedicated to South African house, or Afrohouse, in London.
What about producing music?
While djing, I met some friends with whom we created a trip hop band called Weapons of Mass Belief, later known as Weapons. We toured all around the UK and in the USA as well, and played alongside bands like Franz Ferdinand. We released a few singles, but eventually split up when the label that was supposed to fund our album ran out of money. It was tough, but it taught me a lot.
Years later, I started collaborating with different DJ crews like Radioclit, who were doing their monthly club night at the Notting Hill Arts Club and Eick Soul, who had his Afrogroov Party at Brixton. The following got bigger and bigger, and we started to invite guests from South Africa such as Oskido, Tira, Sox, Nathi Nice, Fistas…The collaboration with Radioclit went so well we ended up doing the first parts of artists like Major Lazer or The XX.
Now that you are based in Paris, you have created a South African music movement here as well. Tell us a bit about that.
When I moved to Paris, I noticed the absence of the music I love in clubs. So I did the same I did in London a few years ago, and I created the record label Globalisto. In 2013, we organised at the Gaité Lyrique Sharp Sharp Johannesburg, with the help of the French Institute and the South African Arts and Culture. It was a massive success! We had over 50 visual and music artists. I really felt the need to develop and give these artists a platform, and this is how Globalisto started to become not just a club night but a also a label.
What is your typical working day?
I wake up singing and dancing. I read a little bit for breakfast, I do some stretching and yoga to get the blood circulation going. Sometimes I do an early morning swim, sometimes the first thing I do in the morning is writing down some ideas… Everyday is actually different, depending if I was working the night before or not, and if I have major deadlines. I follow my feelings. I like to focus on administration in the morning as well, generally in a coffee shop in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, and then I hit my studio in the afternoon and get creative. I have a little set up at home, so I work here a lot.
What are your essential working tools?
My Macbook Pro and the internet. Also, Logic Pro and headphones. Put me any place in the world and I’m ready to go.
Do you work alone or within a team?
It’s really both. I work a lot alone, and I love it. The pureness of writing emotions is like meditation. I find that writing about disturbing events is therapeutical. « A problem shared is problem halfed », my father used to say. But I love to collaborate as well. I had the chance to work with amazing people such as Phillippe Cohen Solal from Gotan Project, Angelique Kidjo, Ala.ni, Laeti from FM Laeti, Helen, Smadj, Rokia Traore, and so many others!
How do you manage the administrative side of your activity?
Yes, I do mostly everything by myself but it can be super tricky. The French administration is very old school and my french is not perfect, but I have a special lady that is always there when I need help.
Are you looking for collaborators?
With my label and my djing, I’m constantly on the search for new music and new talents. It could be interesting to do tracks with some classic French masters like Johnny Hallyday, or the master of disco Manu Dibango, or tech house guys like Carl Craig. I’m into so many different stuff, I would like to see different worlds combined…
I would also love to combine dance and music, and work with someone like Bianca Li. I would like to do more videos, not just music videos but videos to show the interpretation of my music. I’m looking for people to collaborate with on that. That’s what Globalisto is about, blurring boundaries and borders.
I’m also currently looking for an intern, so anyone interested don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Do you have special projects you would like to talk about?
Yes! I just released ‘Speak Up’ , the second release from Globalisto. It’s by Gazelle and DJ Invizable, featuring myself on vocals. The track is about not being afraid, do what you want to say and what you feel, being yourself… Then there is a track I produced called ‘O Tio’, featuring Cheila Simone, coming out this month.
There are a few remixes going on as well: one of Calypso Rose – Calypso Queen, Daniel Haaksman featuring Spoek Mathambo – Akabongi, Mumford and Sons, The Very Best and Beatenberg – Fool you landed.