Earlier this year, producer Lafawndah released her highly anticipated debut album, Ancestor Boy, but she's already tinkering with its DNA. A sprawling sonic manifesto that weaves through personal and political, the original ambitious project served as the culmination of Lafawndah's pan-nationalist approach to music making.
Looking to keep that same spirit alive, Lafawndah is revisiting Ancestor Boy with a host of collaborators sourced from the furthest corners of the global underground club scene. She's tapped artists like Lisbon's Nídia, Beijing's Howie Lee, Brazil's Linn da Quebrada and Pininga, Paris' Crystallmess, London's Cõvco and Mali's Ami Yerewolo to rework album cuts on her new EP, Ancestor Boy II.
On "Parallel," Lafawndah enlists Mexico City-based N.A.A.F.I. collective member Tayhana to turn the track into a smoky late-night cumbia cool down. Featuring new lyrics sung by Lafawndah in Spanish, the mutant club cut is deliciously dark with eerie sirens echoing across a barren landscape that rattle with the force of 100 elephants marching in lockstep. It's sexy in a demon-crawling-out-of-the-flaming-pits-of-hell kind of way.
Ahead of the release of Ancestor Boy II, PAPER caught up with Lafawndah and Tayhana to get a better understanding of the project. Listen to the PAPER premiere of "Parallel X Tayhana x Lafawndah Rework," below.
What was the motivation to revisit your debut album?
Lafawndah: Initially when I started thinking about Ancestor Boy, I had all these ideas about collaborations, all these bridges between different lineages and generations and places. But then life happened and it ended up being mostly me and my immediate surroundings. So the desire for Ancestor Boy II was to fulfill that initial vision. I wanted to reach out to my favorite musicians and ask them to use the album as a point of departure for another one. I think another thought for it is that I have always been adjacent to club music, not fully in, not fully out. I wanted to create my club manifesto with this selection of people.
What was the reasoning behind singing the song in Spanish? Why "Parallel" particularly?
Lafawndah: I gave the choice of song to each musician. Tayhana chose "Parallel." I had made it explicit that if they wanted to collaborate on something new together I would be totally down. So Tayhana made that track and asked me to sing on it. When I started music, I was living in Mexico. I had a band there and even when I started making music alone, one of my first songs was in Spanish so I always wanted to try it again. I also really wanted to find an excuse to collaborate with artist and poet Lucciana Bolivar. And I don't like any kind of monopoly, let alone language monopoly. So when Tayhana sent me the track, I was like, "Wait, why would I sing in English?" It's not even her language. I thought it all made sense to experiment again with Spanish. The emotions that needed to be expressed in that moment made much more sense in Spanish.
"The emotions that needed to be expressed in that moment made much more sense in Spanish." — Lafawndah
What do you envision as being the ideal environment for this song?
Lafawndah: The club. 4 AM. When the DJ decides it's time to drastically slow down and go deep. It's the track in-between two tracks at 145bpm. It's like deep tissue massage in the club.
How did you go about finding collaborators for this new project?
Lafawndah: Just people I admire. Friends. New friends. I think I was really looking for what my ideal club music would be and that's why I chose all these people together. There is a feeling in what they do, certain emotions they can convey in the club that I am excited about.
How did you two initially link up?
Tayhana: Por soundcloud, llegué a LAFAWNDAH EP hace cinco años atrás, siempre con la adicción de buscar música nueva por internet, cuando la conocí estaba empezando como DJ, en mis primeros mixtapes estoy segura que debe sonar Chili or Teengirl Fantasy. Produzco hace muy poco y creo que el primer contacto que tuvimos fue por mi remix "Devolución" para "8" una banda de jazz Argentina. Desde ahí empezamos una relación musical muy linda, siempre me sentí muy en sintonía con de su manera de producir y como siente la música.
I discovered the LAFAWNDAH EP on Soundcloud five years ago, as I was always looking for new music online. I was starting out as a DJ, making my first mixtapes. I think the first contact we had was around my remix "Devolution" for "8" an Argentine jazz band. From there we started a very nice musical relationship and I always felt very in tune with her way of producing and how the music feels.
"Expressing ourselves as a minority puts us at risk all the time. It is a lie to say that there are truly safe spaces, even within LGBTQI+ spaces." — Tayhana
Tayhana, what was the collaboration process like? What surprised you?
Tayhana: Fue de lo más natural y rápido, sampleé una de las melodías de Ancestor Boys I y le di continuidad a esa historia llevándola a otro ritmo, nunca pienso en nada cuando produzco porque para mi todavía es un juego del que estoy aprendiendo en pura libertad, llevo solo 3 años haciéndolo. Cuando envié el beat y recibí la primer versión con su voz, quedé muda , era demasiada tragedia junta en una canción, todo lo que a mi me gusta.
It was incredibly natural and fast. I sampled one of the Ancestor Boy melodies and gave continuity to that story by taking it to another rhythm. I never think of anything when I produce, because for me it is still a game of freedom and learning — I've only been doing it for 3 years. When I sent the beat and received the first version with her voice I was speechless, it was so much tragedy together in a song, all that I like.
How do politics intersect with your work on the dance floor?
Tayhana: Todo el tiempo, desde que empecé a querer hacer fiestas o música desde el underground, que sea todo más difícil respecto a políticas culturales en Argentinas, hizo que seamos más conscientes. Nuestra diversión, al pertenecer a una minoría, pone en riesgo nuestros cuerpos todo el tiempo, es mentira que existen espacios seguros aún dentro de espacios LGBTIQ+. Hablar de esos temas es un factor muy importante que nos afecta a todos. Me parece perfecto que hoy esto se dialogue desde las fiestas, labels, artistas y todos los actores que conforman la escena de Club Music actual. Esta escena, a través de incorporar y romper prejuicios con ritmos provenientes de Latinoamérica o África, y por lo jodido que está el mundo hoy, hizo entender que cada decisión relacionadas al baile y al derecho a gozar, son decisiones políticas que nos definen.
Since I started wanting to make music and take part in the underground scene, the difficulties with respect to cultural policies in Argentinas have been an issue I'm aware of. Expressing ourselves as a minority puts us at risk all the time. It is a lie to say that there are truly safe spaces, even within LGBTQI+ spaces. Talking about these issues is a very important factor that affects us all. It seems perfect that we have this dialogue within the music scene — the parties, labels, artists and all the actors that make up the current Club Music scene. This scene, through inclusive and breaking prejudices with rhythms from Latin America or Africa, made us understand that every decision related to dancing and the right to enjoy ourselves are political decisions that define us.
Photos courtesy of David Uzochukwu