Nigerian music is definitely making a mark on the world. The dynamic nature of this industry has brought about the growth of other sub-genres. Amongst these growing sounds is Nigerian Electronic Dance Music. This sound is characterized by a blend of both Nigerian culture and Western influences.
With this immersion, the community continues to thrive in gathering a diverse audience. Having mastered the art of bringing about different subcultures – with the aim of freedom, expression and escapism. The steady recognition of Nigerian Afro-Electronic Dance Music has seen the creation of events such as Activity Fest, Eko Elektronic, Element House, Sweat it Out and many more.
Given the expansion of this scene, I was able to get an insight from a group of talented players who, over the years, have created a massive following. Their perseverance truly complements the vision of showing the versatility of Nigerian music to the world.
Calix’s love for music has been on show since secondary school. However, his interest in electronic music spun from a series of experiences in which he grew tired of the conventional mainstream Afrobeats sounds played by most DJ’s. From hearing a record play on the radio by Major Lazer,—with whom he has shared a stage with—he has since come a long way. This exciting discovery led him to seek out similar artists like Black Coffee, DJ Snake. His enthusiasm in describing this sound to me was amazing- “ it’s the beats, even without the lyrics, the grooves just makes you want to dance.”
While today, this style of music is accepting, it was not always the case. “Finding consistent venues for building this community was a challenge.” Calix shares with me speaking on his earlier days; he adds “looking back on the immense growth of this sound and even getting venues who solely dedicate to playing this genre is incredible.”
The co-founder of Nocturne music, an EDM collective has gone on to create as well as play at different events, had his own residency and currently creating a platform for other growing artists within this genre. Despite this, Calix still believes that the expansion of this sound can be made through the inclusion from big brands and creation of categories at award shows- “Acceptability is key and spotlighting of this genre in award shows will help in its discovery.”
The young producer believes in the globalization of this sound. “Bridging the gap is important, by finding the mesh between lyrics and sound. While maintaining the percussion and foreign sounds, integrating elements of afrobeats will help make it relatable to a wide audience”.
Sensei Lo is one of the foremost players in the electronic music scene. Popularly described as a dance music enthusiast and producer, her flair towards electronic dance music dates back to her younger days. Starting off as a club DJ at the popular Elegushi Beach, she has since performed at renowned events such as Asa Baako in Ghana as well as playing alongside top-notch artists like Major Lazer and Black Motion. Her star power continues to rise as seen in the release of her very own project called “Pisces Moon”.
Having served as one of the key players in the birth of this genre within Nigeria, Sensei Lo admits on the massive growth “ it was clear that the music was not ready as it faced a lot of backlash.” She continues by citing “patience, perseverance and escapism as the core elements which saw to its resistance. However, it has gone beyond this as it is now a norm.” She further backs this by describing the exclusivity and close-knit nature within this genre. “There is no form of segregation allowing for self-expression which has contributed to its growth.”
She stands strong on the belief that electronic dance music in Nigeria can be global as it has steadily entered the room for discussion “ it is an adventurous and dynamic sound which brings out the core of African music- drums. Coupled with the fusion of melodies by the variety of DJ’s and producers, it breaks barriers. The world of percussion takes you on a journey of rhythm which makes you want to dance”.
Aye is the true embodiment of an urban artist. His sense in getting inspiration within the city of Lagos makes him stand among the pioneers of African Electronic Dance Music: “There is something urban in everything I do from graphic designing to my mode of creation in music. Living in this city affects all forms of my art making it relatable to Africans living in urban cities.”
Reminiscing on his exposure to electronic music, the young artist acknowledges the embracement of Nigerians to this style of music. “This is the first time Nigerians are consciously siding with an electronic genre. The spirit of embracement even without the lyrics is remarkable.” However, he admits to hesitancy on the rise of this sound even with himself. “EDM was really standoffish as there was no bounce but the texture and emotions were there. You begin to appreciate the good aspects as it merges two sounds: afrobeats and EDM”. He reckons that this sound encapsulates the belief that the world is one.
Having played in the electronic scene for a long time, Aye has gone on to build a community called “Village Sound System”. Probing on his motivation behind this name, he admits that the idea came from “the blend of two concepts: tribal and technology savvy. It is inspired by a mix of engineering technology while also paying respect to the power of our rural roots”.
The urban artist encourages the world to tap more into this sound “the evolvement of Electronic Dance Music in Nigeria is rising, diligence from DJ’s help in finding the intersection between where we are and where we want to be”. This intersection is lyrics which truly captures what we think as Nigerians”.