Geneva’s AMAMI drop their debut LP Soleil – an outernational extravaganza of dancehall, ragga, Afropop and no wave – this August, on cult imprint Bongo Joe Records, also of Switzerland. The group specialise in fusing elements from around the world, including Moroccan gnawa, funaná from Cape Verde, and South African Shangaan electro. The album is out at the end of August.
Lead single Highway Deli is a fine example of the music’s hybridity, it’s a groover that uses a ragga-beat and lyrics sung in the Tigrinya language from Eritrea, the ancestral home of Amami’s singer, Gabriel Ghebrezghi. He explains, Highway Deli “is a shout from the heart, and is filled with joy, sadness, nostalgia and rebellious energy, as it encourages Eritreans across the world to not forget where they came from”.
Following the 2019 EP Giant, which was voted as one of the best records of the year in Swiss paper Le Temps, new album Soleil is defined by three unique artists’ own cultural upbringing – Raphaël Anker, a local music veteran who cut his teeth touring the world with his Ethiopiques project, Imperial Tiger Orchestra; Ghebrezghi (aka. Ghostape, Tapes Adventure) on keys, vocals, effects, loopers, and delays; and Inès Mouzoune on bass and synth – she is the band’s youngest member and is half-Moroccan, half-Bulgarian and infuses her love of RnB, instrumental hip-hop, and house music.
“Sometimes life is serious, sad, boring, frustrating, oppressive, desperate, and the next minute later the sun is shining, and you are going to dance the night away,” Ghebrezghi says when asked about their music’s deeper meaning. “Life is just a strange thing where all kinds of feelings are mixed up, and I think unconsciously, that is what we try to transcribe in our music.
Bongo Joe Records has been championing new Swiss music and is creating a thriving scene within the relatively small city of Geneva. WTM interviewed their label head recently: