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Five Minutes at Sónar with Nguzunguzu

The 2012 edition of Sónar certainly kept us busy—check our review for proof—but we did find time to sit down and chat with a couple of our favorite artists during the festival. LA duo Nguzunguzu has had a full plate in 2012, so we quizzed Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof about their recent tour, upcoming releases for Hippos in Tanks and Fade to Mind, and the differences between Europe and the US.

XLR8R: This is the first time you two have played at Sónar.
Daniel Pineda: Yes.
Asma Maroof: Yeah, well, I played here the year before when I was on tour with M.I.A., but this is the first time with Nguzunguzu.

How has the experience been?
DP: Cool. Kind of crazy. We've been on tour, and then this is the craziest festival to not sleep at. But it's fun. There's a lot going on. Barcelona is really cool. It's hot.
AM: We got time to explore the city, which is incredible. [We also] experienced [the festival], which is cool.

How was the European tour you just did?
DP: It was really good. It's been a month. We played Villette Festival, that was really good.
AM: We loved that.
DP: We played Distortion Festival, it was really cool.
AM: We played Berghain, which was amazing, just to play on that system.

How do European audiences respond to your music?
DP: It's really different in different places, but usually we get a good response everywhere. Some places are a little sleepy.

You have a new EP coming out. How did it come about that you're working with Hippos and Tanks?
DP: They contacted us and asked if we wanted to do something.
AM: They gave us total freedom on the artwork, whether we wanted to do EP or LP, anything. They've been very welcoming.

Hippos and Tanks doesn't necessarily cater to the same crowd as Fade to Mind. Are you excited for your music to be exposed to a new audience?
DP: I think in some ways it's good, but it can also be kind of weird, because maybe people will expect something different when they come to our show.
AM: [People might] think we're a band now. We've been getting that, or we'll be booked for more indie parties. But when we play, we still do our own thing, and people really respond to it. This whole EP isn't so dancy, but it's still us. It still has that base, and similar elements to all of our music. But yeah, it's different—it's a different crowd, it's a different vibe. But I think that's the best way to get your music out there sometimes, working with a bunch of different labels and different communities and tying them together.

Nguzunguzu has experimented with many sounds and styles over the years. So when you say "us," what does it mean? Where is Nguzunguzu at musically in 2012?
DP: Still a bit all over the place. We're not really looking to what we already did, but more to what we want to do.
AM: We've definitely talked about playing more of our own productions in our DJ sets. We still want to have some sort of live element. I don't ever want to be called a band. We want to bring a sampler or a drum machine and incorporate that—a new element of creation.

And you're still working with Fade to Mind?
AM: Definitely. We're working on our next Fade to Mind release.

Now that Fade to Mind has more of an established crew, do you feel like you've internalized your influences, where you all are just feeding off each other?
DP: Yeah, there's some internalizing of influences.
AM: But it's kind of nice, because you can send each other dubplates and edits and create a community of sound that way. It's great when that community gets bigger and bigger. MikeQ sent us a bunch of his new tunes, which are incredible, the new vogue shit. Gremino in Finland sent his new stuff. Before, it was mostly us, Kingdom, and Total Freedom. It's cool that it's getting bigger.

Are you focused on building something in the US? Does being an American label play into what you're doing?
DP: Yeah, definitely.
AM: Honestly, we play more [in Europe].
DP: That's true.

Would you like to play more in the US?
AM: Definitely, that's our home. We need more shows there.
DP: We don't want to get booked at something that's not worth playing, but there should just be a better atmosphere for more of our kind of club music.
AM: Like, we've never played in Denver, or Phoenix. Come on guys, what's up?

Is Fade to Mind making a statement by having so many North American artists? You obviously have a lot of connections in Europe, but most of the roster is American.
DP: I think that's the point.
AM: There aren't as many outlets [in the US].
DP: There are other labels everywhere. It's hard to talk about, just because it's definitely more of Kingdom's project.
AM: We've talked to him about it though. There are these kids in Portugal, and he wants to still put out [their] stuff and music from all over. But we live in America, so we're closer [with American artists]. We speak the same language, and it's easier [to communicate]. We'll continue to grow.

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