Dazed talks to the DJ duo who keep the party popping at MIA’s favourite LA nightspot, Freak City
If you walked past the doors to Freak City, the hippest underground venue to hit Hollywood for an age, you’d probably pass it by. A dark, labyrinthine place on two levels it doubles up as an art space that’s regularly hired out for shows and shoots, and also houses the LA Rap (think beat street fashion at its most colourful, lots of letterman jackets and high-tops) clothing boutique. The legendary Delicious Vinyl is upstairs, too. Tonight, though, MIA’s NEET Recordings are taking over, and it’s party time. And promising to whip the LA party crowd into a perspiring frenzy are NEET Recordings’ DJ duo Nguzunguzu (named after war canoe prow figureheads carved out of wood, since you asked), whose blend of hip hop, ghetto house, dubstep, R&B and Bmore club music is causing the underground club scene’s eyes to roll back in its head. Not only that, but the blogs are going crazy for them. A recent mixtape of re-edits of Art of Noise’s track Moments In Love caused a mini tidal wave of online hype.
Considering the bone-shattering racket they make, Nguzunguzu are surprisingly shy. Sat in a quiet room before punters start to pile in, Asma and Daniel (they don’t give their surnames) manage to squeeze in a chat before setting up. “We try to switch around our roles most of the time,” says the reserved, stupidly handsome Daniel on the working dynamics between the two of them. “And a large proportion of our tracks are the product of stuff we’ve played live – either with CDJs or DJing or, like, synths – and we go away and edit those ideas to build tracks.” And what do they want to get out of their DJ sets? “We want people to fuckin’ move, man,” says Asma, between rolling her head side-to-side and singing along to a Ciara track playing in the background. “What more could you ask for than that? To see people losing their minds to the shit you’re playing?”
NEET Recordings only contacted Nguzunguzu last year to work with Rye Rye on a track, but they have been playing together for years. “We both bring totally different things into the ring,” says Daniel. “Like, I come from a much more punk background and Asma is more hip-hop, but they usually come together pretty well.” One artist they both agree on, however, is Nicki Minaj. “Shit, she is too good,” says Asma, shaking her head. “We’re trying to get her for the next mixtape, but it’s not proving easy.”
Speaking of mixtapes, Nguzunguzu are producing MIA’s summer mixtape. Asma is also DJing on the forthcoming MIA tour. “That’s so exciting for me,” Asma grins. “I mean, the effect she [MIA] has had on music over here is insane.” The duo remains modest about their own endeavours, though. But, in a city where underground club culture had petered out a little, Nguzunguzu are making an innovative, international-sounding noise that just keeps getting louder and louder, and people can’t get enough.