Meet the electrifying dance-duo pioneering Afro-house.
Having ignited airwaves at the beginning of 2020 with “No Touch”, a track totally beloved by musical tastemakers such as Jamz Supernova and Mary Anne Hobbs, dance duo Raz Olsher and Afla Sackey (a.k.a. Raz & Afla) are back at it again with their mellifluous new single “Secrets and Lies”.
This afro-disco banger tackles systemic racism, with punchy political offerings set to African drum beats and funky basslines. At times eerie, the genre-bending track pushes disco to its limits, masterfully building around glorious electronic melodies and elements of organic percussion that will have you shaking your hips and yearning for the dancefloor.
“[The track] was shaped during a pandemic, but its release comes at a time when protests erupt across the world over the continuing onslaught of oppression and abandonment of basic human rights,” explains Raz of “Secrets and Lies”. “Brutally racist police in America once again reminded us how far we still have to go until racism and injustice becomes an ugly footnote in human history.”
In lieu of their new release we caught up with the pair below, talking everything from politics in music to the quarantine blues. Take a look…
Hi guys, how has lockdown been treating you? How have you been staying creative?
Lockdown had been both a challenging and productive time for us. We ended up quarantined separately in Thailand and London. We took the opportunity to work remotely and making the most of the time to get creative and write new music.
Where did you guys grow up and how did this influence your sound?
We grew up in Israel and Ghana. The flavour of the sounds from our respective upbringings is tangible in the music we create together, but we also blend in many tones from more contemporary cultures that we both enjoy. Our aim is to fuse all these beautiful influences from such differing parts of life and the world into fresh, organic, dance music.
How did you both meet and what do you each bring to the act?
We met in London’s Afrobeat scene and hit it off from the get-go. We knew we wanted to see how it might play out so got in the studio and immediately found a great flow and so started the new journey of making music together. It’s a combination of Afla’s percussion, singing and composing along with Raz’s synths, guitars and production. Having said that, we do overlap often and complement each other wonderfully suitably. It is a relationship in which we’re continuously pushing each other every time to create a more diverse, more evolved, more adventurous piece of music.
Congratulations on your new track “Secrets & Lies” – the inspiration behind the track is amazing – what made you want to explore these themes?
Secrets & Lies was shaped during the pandemic, but its release comes at a time when protests are erupting across the world. The perpetual onslaught of oppression and abandonment of basic human rights continues to be rife. Brutally racist police in America once again reminded us how far we still have to go until racism and injustice becomes an ugly footnote in human history. It can be horrifying that we live in a world with still so far to go, but the silver lining to this chaotic storm cloud is that it fuels us, gives us what we need to develop more meaningful musical creations.
How does it feel releasing music/art in such an uncertain time?
The show must go on. It has to be tasteful and reflect the times we are in of course, but it is important for us to continue to express ourselves in all art forms that call us, and for us that is with music. In the words of Sun Ra “Human kind thrives on the unknown. Knowledge is laughable when attributed to a human being”
What do you hope people will take away from the track?
We hope it empowers listeners to be strong and positive about the changes that lie ahead and a better future that awaits. We hope it encourages people to take action, bringing that future on more imminently, and enjoy a good dance whilst doing it.
Do you think it’s important for artists to be politically charged in their tunes?
Principally it is important to remain genuine. If an artist’s genuine expression is to bring a political angle to their work then that’s fantastic, so long as it is their truth. That which musicians are compelled to play, that goes straight to the throne of the creator of the universe. That is how the creator sees you, in accordance with your offering. Music is a universal language and what a musician creates is available for all to judge. They become an ambassador of whatever message they put out, so when that is given up to the creator it can become not only your making but your personal nemesis too. This almost creates a bond of responsibility to only create that which is your genuine truth as an artist.
What’s next for you?/what are you excited about in 2020?
We are continuing to write and release music all through 2020. We can’t wait to share it with you all and we’re itching, of course, to hopefully start performing live again very soon.