Born and raised in Brussels and bred from a hip-hop background, DJ/Producer Sifa waltzed into electronic music by way of dance, landed in an underground scene dominated by a rather hard techno-leaning sound, yet unswervingly cultivated his own style. The Belgian’s longstanding affair with music, guided by intuition and inspired by artistic freedom, cannot easily be defined in words as it never let itself be defined.
Melodramatic soundscapes with perfectly balanced rhythm and groove, sophisticated and well-structured buildups set Sifa’s DJ gigs and mixes apart from the ordinary, and has rewarded the wanderlust the gratification to play in various parts of the globe. He, along with all the tricks he got up his sleeve, is here to stay for the long haul.
We caught up with Sifa to talk about his new EP, ‘Actarus’, and other musical topics.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Sifa, thanks for your time today. You recently came back from ADE, how was the experience?
Sifa: Hi, guys! Thank you for the invite! Always a pleasure to spend a few days at ADE. All the interesting panels allow you to more familiarise yourself with the behind the curtains side of the music industry. It’s nice to actually see who does what. Besides all that it’s also a great opportunity to see friends from the industry and discover or listen to artists at events. Overall it was great!
EG: Now you are preparing to release a new two-track EP entitled ‘Actarus’ via your label DEPTH. What was the inspiration to produce these tracks?
Sifa: The inspiration behind the EP is actually 2 animes that I enjoyed watching as a kid – ‘Grendizer‘ and ‘Cobra Space Adventures’ – which are both classics. Cobra could be described as a ladies man, funny and very outgoing while Actarus (french name of Duke Fleed) is more lover, serious and reserved. I think they both represent a bit of me some people might know me as Cobra and others as Actarus 🙂 The first is a very dancefloor-oriented track, the second is an emotional trip.
EG: How did this interest in Japanese anime started? Can you name some of your favorites?
Sifa: I won’t say I’m a fan of Japanese animation but those two did mark my childhood. Others that I enjoyed as well are Dragon Ball Z, City Hunter, and Baki The Grappler.
EG: You also run your label Depth. What was the reason to create your own output?
Sifa: The reason is that I don’t like to put myself in a musical box. I want to be able to release for example a techno track with an afro house track on one EP. Some labels won’t see things this way. Having your own label makes things a lot easier from the musical choice, artwork (big hug to Yazmin Huerta), and the way it’s promoted. It’s a lot of work but you get to do things the way you see/feel it.
EG: Do you find it hard to balance running a label and making music?
Sifa: I don’t release a lot of music on DEPTH so it gives me time to work on music. However, since I still have my 9-5 activity it can sometimes be hard to balance all 3 together. Days are long, nights are short and weekends are non-existent, but in the end, it’s all worth it.
EG: Release wise, what else is planned in the coming months, personally and on the label?
Sifa: After the ‘Actarus’ EP I have a single – ‘Madela’ – coming out on Madorasindahouse’s VA in partnership with Midi Minds Kenya. This project is set out to raise awareness, financial ability and cultural highlight towards the Samburu tribe and community, through using selected recordings for the production of this 19-track compilation.
As we speak, I just finished a remix for Boddhi Satva and Mehdi Nassouli – ‘Ghaita’, this one should see daylight mid-December. On my DEPTH label, we’ve planned a best-of compilation for December, followed by the Actarus remixes by K’Alexi Shelby, Igor Vicente, and Dead-Tones. They all three have a different style of production so I’m really looking forward to this one.
EG: What are your plans for the Winter season?
Sifa: I’ll mostly be working on new music this winter. With Terranova and Ivory, we have a few songs we are working on. Those should see the day early 2020.
January will also be my first event in my hometown, Brussels. The name of the event is EPISODE (#myepisodewas). It’s an event that will take place a few times a year showcasing black Electronic music artists. (Of course, the line up will not be 100% black but let’s say 80% 😉 )
EG: Coming from a hip hop background, what would be your advice to the young artists that are starting their musical career?
Sifa: I would say that you have to dedicate yourself to it, believe in yourself, your ideas and use every tool you can in order to achieve your goals.
EG: Checking your Soundcloud account, we found a mix series entitled ‘Capsule’. Can you explain what’s the concept about?
Sifa: ‘Capsule’ is a series of mixes where I get to play everything I like. There is no particular genre but I try to be more and more eclectic in this mix series. Every episode comes also with a special artwork made by Yazmín Huerta from Estereoscopica. The way we work is that I send her the mix over and based on the energy and atmosphere of it she designs an artwork.
EG: What do you think it takes to be a good DJ?
Sifa: Mixing skills are important but not as important as the tracks selection. Personally I like to take people on a journey with different types of tracks. I also think that it’s not just about playing the unreleased tracks or hits everyone is playing, otherwise what’s the point?
Sifa’s ‘Actarus’ EP is out now on his label DEPTH, grab your copy here.