Matias Aguayo and Mujaji the Rain are masters of a pulsating rhythmic shower on their new record, Rain. The 5-track EP released via Cómeme in November 2018, is fitting ode to the musical step of life in Johannesburg, South Africa. The collaborative project between actress, dj and singer Ayanda Seoka aka Mujaji the Rain and Matias is a manifestation of the pair’s connection to the city; for Matias through Radio Cómeme flirtation with the independent alternative music scene.
The lead single, Rain, sits on a foundation of deep and moody drums that float like water over Mujaji’s mesmerizing vocal work, the Johannesburg-based multi-disciplinary artist swings her voice like a wand, weaving her words into a hypnotic grove that seduces the listeners to a frenzy of dance. One side B of the EP, you have Serious, a sensually haunting dance jam that sees thundering yet soulful vocal Mujaji complement the cloudy mood that the kinetic bass loops accented by subtle psychedelic squeals, swooshes and clicks.
The record sits in a perfect balance between rhythm and melody whilst resembling a vivid vignette of a sonic portrait of the city that oozes with such vibrant energy. We spoke to Mujaji the Rain and Matias briefly to learn more about the process of realizing this project.
DANDANO: What did you find most important in your attempt to interpret the rhythm of life in Joburg in you own music?
Matias Aguayo: I have the impression that Joburg just took over, that I didn’t really have to overthink or make an effort to somehow generate a musical interpretation. I met a very demanding crowd in Joburg that made me play as intense as I could to live up to those rhythmical and musical expectations, I worked with Mujaji which could only happen in a Joburg rhythm and vibe. I was in a city in which I could hear sounds and rhythms that I loved and could easily enter into a dialogue with my own musical approaches. So I think the most important to translate this energy into music, was diving into Joburg, playing, listening, dancing, recording in the city itself, with the new friends. We made a street party, we played Kitcheners twice alongside Spoko, Felix Laband, Danger Ngozi and more, we recorded radio shows (for instance with FAKA), and I went to recordings with Spoko, and finally also with Mujaji the Rain. So in a way, it was natural that Joburg’s rhythm of life would be reflected in the music. One of the things that drew my attention was a certain compatibility of rhythms I was bringing with me, with the ones I found that were played on the sound-systems in town. Specially rhythms that we were releasing on our label Cómeme and were reflecting what was going on in the Latin Tech scene especially worked very well in Joburg, and so our Rain EP is of course induced by that dialogue of two strangers who never met before but feel as if they’ve known for a long time.
DANDANO: What was the experience of collaborating on this record like? The melodies and rhythms seem to fall into a perfect groove. What did you consider in creating this deeply emotive soundscape with Matias?
Mujaji the Rain: I come from a performance background, I’ve been acting since I was a kid, and I think as a performer you can do almost anything. Matias uses a very performance-based technique to his recording process, which I resonated deeply with. I’ve been involved in the music scene in a way, for a while. My older brother, Ntsika Seoka is rapper and DJ and I’ve been following him and his taste in music since I was a kid, from gig to gig. Till I found my own rhythm and started engaging with the BroadenANewSound crew, my family now, and opened up a new path to my musical journey, and that’s how I met Matias. I’ve always had a profound relationship with music, like it lives within me. When I’m on the dance floor dancing, I feel one with it, like a synergy, we lead and follow each other. I was also made to perform at family functions, and told to prep a thing with my cousins, when I was a kid, to show to the adults. Then I started djing, through pussy party workshops. But I’ve always had a secret passion, or rather I knew I wanted to do vocals but not in a generic way and I didn’t know how it would happen. I met Matias when my friends, actually family BroadenANewSound, brought him over to Kitcheners a couple of years ago. We had a connection and had fun together and he liked my speaking voice and I liked him and I was brave enough to tell him I wanted to get into the studio and just explore. So the next time he came back to SA, we went to the studio and played. I started singing ‘Raaaiiinnn’, Matias played the percussion that sounded a bit like raindrops, and the more we recorded, it became rainier. I’ve since learnt about how synergy is important in music. Even just synergy between collaborators, and how that also filters into feeling the freedom to explore. I’m grateful to have had someone like Matias to play with, and hold my hand entering into this phase of my life (if I can call it that). His energy made me feel vulnerable enough to show sides of myself that the vocals reveal. I think what’s crazy and beautiful is how the timing of the release, the name of the 1st track we recorded and the name of the record and who I’m identifying as currently, has aligned. We both had no idea when we recorded but I’ve always had a connection to rain and water. My name is Ayanda Seoka but now I go as Mujaji The Rain, Modjadji is my tribe calling, as a descendant of Queen Modjadji, the Rain Queen. Then I jazzed it up to find myself at Mujaji The Rain.
Buy Rain on Bandcamp!
Written by Hakeem Adam
Image Credit: Via Artists.