FEATURE: Dive into Akuji’s electronic melancholy

February 20, 2015

His friends call him “Haku”, like the harmless demon from the anime “Spirited Away”. Video games and mangas are an important source of inspiration for the Parisian beatmaker Akuji. Indeed, the spelling of his pseudonym comes from the video game Akuji the Heartless, which tells the story of a voodoo priest whose heart was snatched from his chest on his wedding’s day.

By Osmojam, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Akuji’s hip hop/electro/jazz productions are mysterious, sometimes a little bit worrying, and always exude a certain kind of sadness. This is quite different from the festive spirit and the sounds of traditional music from Guadeloupe, where he grew up.

Akuji learnt very early to play latin percussions (mainly congas and bongos), and had his very first gig at the age of 2. His father, Caribbean percussionist Charly Chomereau Lamotte, played with masters like Miles Davis or Tito Puente. Akuji got used to listen to Caribbean jazz, and mentions Luther François or Happy Lewis as his first influences. He later discovered and learned about hip hop culture on his own. With amused detachment, he explains how one of his instrumentals ended up on one of Krs One‘s album, when he only had 4 years of beatmaking practise and did not even know who Krs One was.

Today, aside from composing music, Akuji is a sideman for Caribbean hip hop/soul artists like Erik Pédurand, Swaany, or Sébastien Drumeaux.he also belongs to two bands specialised in live beatmaking: Sinesquare ( with Monk, Tismé, and Oliver) and Bôkaz (with Lagâchèt, Ano, and Jeebrahil). The members of Bôkaz ( meaning “at home”) have also organised Hip Hop Kreyol Live Sessions to promote Caribbean MCs and beatmakers. Akuji also teamed with Ano to create Bôkaz Lab productions , and released 3 free EPs entitled “Do Not Disturb”. In volume 2, dedicated to jazz, he took samples from french pianist Dominique Fillon‘s albums, and made them sound like they came from old jazz records. On top of that, he blends hip hop with Caribbean rhythms and plays with different atmospheres in the same track. “What I love about jazz is improvisation and its unexpected twists. The beauty of hip hop is elsewhere: there’s something hypnotic about loops.”

Determined to drop a project each year, Akuji then celebrates women’s beauty and strangeness in F.L.A.V.O.U.R.I.T.E.S. This EP, out in 2013, contains 6 tracks tinged with multiple electronic synthesizers. There’s a little less sampling and more programming, but the result is equally mellow and soothing . On the track “I Am So” below, a computer-modified voice sings ” Every Woman Is Beautiful”, and which resounds almost like a prayer:

Akuji’s last project “Oceans“, released in August 2014, has a more nu soul vibe than his previous musical works. He even invited french soul singer Sowlie on the track “Cruise“. “I chose to call this EP Oceans because the tracks I selected for it made me think about the sea, holidays and travelling”. Once again, the sounds chosen, the impressive work on the samples (he even sampled parts he played himself on the keyboard) help create an enchanting world only him holds the secret to.

You can find Akuji on Facebook, Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

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