EP 010 / 11.05.2021
MUSIC IN KENYA
DJ and label owner, L.A. Dave is this week’s guest on Mission Makers. In this episode, which is the penultimate of the season, Dave discusses how his father’s affinity for music influenced his own journey, what it was like establishing an underground scene in Kenya and what life has been like since the pandemic hit. Dave also goes on to share tips for those wanting to start a label and how he has managed to ignore the politics of dancing throughout it all.
When most people think of East Africa and more specifically Kenya, they think of picturesque sunsets, sprawling savannahs and the exotic wildlife and whilst the country may indeed boast many of those features there is, as it turns out way more to the country’s primal nature than first meets the eye. In fact, in the last few two decades, Kenyans have been falling in love with electronic music and as a result the underground scene in the country is flourishing, thanks in large parts to the efforts of pioneers like L.A. Dave.
David Marotich or as he is known to his peers, L.A. Dave was born in Serbia but spent much of his life living between the USA, UK, Kenya, Tanzania and Serbia. However it was in Kenya where Dave seemingly found his musical voice. In fact, he has spent the last ten years building the minimal music scene and is viewed as one of the major players in bringing the underground sound to that part of the continent and you can see why. Dave alongside fellow contributors quickly set-up their own night, called Temple Nairobi, with the specific remit of educating people on electronic music, whilst simultaneously bringing people together to have a good time. Not that it’s always been easy, “In the beginning people didn't like it,” Dave says. The playing field is incredibly small with not more than 1,000 or so revellers enjoying the sound. However Dave and his peers persevered and his efforts have been recognised globally, with his night listed on the Techno Traveller Map in 2016. For those wanting to explore Africa’s rich rhythmical roots, Dave has a simple message, “Don't come and use Africa, come and collaborate with African artists.”
Dave on his part has most certainly stayed true to that and has used his label, Groundid Music, which was first established during his time in California, to discover and promote upcoming artists with many of his releases featuring Maasai vocals with a minimal touch. As Dave explains, “you want your label to stand for something, you want to send a message.”
Incidentally it is on the topic of wanting to send out a message where our conversation with Dave ends. Before we say goodbye Dave has one thing to say to all those involved in the music industry, “We are here to play music; we are together so we might as well enjoy it together instead of letting ego get in the way.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves Dave.
The full conversation with L.A. Dave can be found on the video below and on Spotify and iTunes.
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Lessons To Fuel Your Mission
Respect the environment around you because it will shape you
It's not about what you've achieved, it's about what you give back
Create relevance instead of feeding off a culture of recognition