We first encountered Tuesday Born as one half of Afro-Electronic duo The Busy Twist. But when we realised Gabriel Benn made music on his own too, obviously we had to investigate. It was every bit as good as we’d hoped, blending African and Latin influences from recently adopted homes with jazz piano and electronic production skills. Signed to label and party-makers Audio Doughnuts, he’s just released his second EP through them called Singing in the Dark, which has deservedly been getting love from some very important people. We’re delighted to bring you a mix from the man himself, and it’s no exaggeration to say it’s already one of our favourites of the series. If ever a guest could encompass the music we love in the space of 40 minutes, then Tuesday Born has done it. Expect Latin and African sounds, soul, funk, electronic, jazz, both new and old. This really is a special one.
Putting your sound in a bit of context…
For some of our readers who may not have heard of Tuesday Born, can you give yourself a little introduction?
I am a 22 year old producer from London and generally label what I do as ‘Afro Electronica’, though its a wide term. In theory I don’t like to put a label onto my own writing and expression.
You lived in Ghana for 6 months when you were 18. How did this influence your sound as a solo artist, and what was it about Ghana that appealed so much?
I first went when I was 18 because I had always had an intense interest in Africa and its musical cultures, and for some reason Ghana just pulled me in. The vibrant rhythms and harmonies that I found out to be ingrained in the music out there has definitely had an influence on the way I write and perceive music. I guess my first release Kwabena was the most direct demonstration of this.
A big part of African music is about the rhythm. Has your time there led you to focus on this aspect first when making music?
I wouldn’t say it has led me to focus on it, as when I write music it is almost always through the keyboard/piano first, and then taken to the production at which point the rhythm comes in. Though my time in Ghana and hours listening to African music has definitely given me a focus on rhythm, that perhaps wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t had been in West Africa.
And you’ve just come back from a solid stint in Colombia. What led you there and how was it?
Colombia has been amazing and it’s a country that will forever stay close to my heart, like Ghana. I was there for six months, working for their equivalent to ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, and later recording new Busy Twist material. It’s a country of many different tales with good and bad everywhere, though overall the people are really kind and warm. I went as part of my Uni course (as I still technically study Music & Spanish!)
Both countries aren’t where you’d expect a London-born producer to be spending his days. Are you just not feeling the UK at the moment?!
Haha well I decided a few years ago that I really don’t want to ever be part of an English winter again! I mean that. Really though I love living in other cultures, especially (or only) those that have music as such a crucial part of their culture. I think it’s important to see more of the world if you have the chance, and I have been lucky enough to have that chance. Though home is where my heart is, and London is, and will always be, my favourite place on the Earth.
I read another interview you did where you praised the power of the internet as a way of engaging with music outside the charts, but a lot of our contact with you in Columbia has been through internet cafes, so this can’t have been easy for you. Have you had much connection to electronic music back home?
Yeah too many slow internet cafes in the last six months haha! Staying on top of the scene in London wasn’t easy being away, though generally I was making sure I was listening to everything that deserved to be listened to at the time. I probably missed a lot of underground stuff that has came out, though records from James Blakes, Bonobo and Lapulux have all been on repeat.
Either way, being in a different country must’ve opened you up to new sounds. What’s your contact been with local music in Columbia?
Salsa! Salsa is NOT the cheesy lame sunshine holiday music that most English people (as I did before) imagine it to be. It has a crazy, raw, often cocaine-fuelled energy that is pretty addictive (the dancing not the cocaine!) after spending a lot of time around it. Nothing beats dancing with an attractive Colombian woman to some amazing Salsa. Colombia is a real musical country and has countless different styles to boast of, because of its huge racial diversity. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of contact with a lot of it. There would be a lot of styles that on listening to them, I am sure people would accredit them to coming from Africa, though are actually Afro Colombian.
We usually ask our mix guests what their favourite three tracks of 2012 were, so it will be interesting to hear your verdict, considering where you’ve been spending your time.
Actually where I spent my time last year didn’t really affect what would be my favourite tracks. As good music is good music, no matter where it comes from. I would say the following are my favourites:
A bit about your work…
You’re signed to Audio Doughnuts. Last year they were very much about putting on parties, but only four months into 2013, it’s clear that their work as a label is being pushed to the fore. Did you get involved with them after this change in focus? And generally, what’s it like being part of the set-up there?
I think I got involved with them just as they were starting to steer the boat more towards the music rather than the parties. Its been wicked being part of the AD family. They are a young crew and all on the level and I really respect their vision and mission. Henry Moller is the only other guy (apart from my Dad) that works as hard as I do haha!
You’ve just released your Singing in the Dark EP. We’re massive fans so firstly well done! Were you happy with how it came out?
Thank you. Yes I am very happy with it all. I was in Colombia when it was released so was a little worried at first as to how it was going to be with me being so far away, but the response was really good and people seemed to appreciate the music for what it is. If people are happy listening to my music, then I am happy too.
It’s been picking up attention from some luminary figures like Gilles Peterson and Lefto. What’s that been like? Did you expect them to jump on what you’ve been doing or was it a genuine surprise and confirmation that you’re on the right track?
Well of course I had always been hoping that people like Gilles would pick up what I do, if nothing else because I really rate and respect his selection and have been buying his compilation albums since I was young. So it wasn’t a surprise, just kind of an achievement that I’d hoped for.
I noticed a stronger African sound in your first release Kwabena/Minor Jam. Can you explain the progression, or maybe just change in direction between that release and Singing in the Dark?
Kwabena/Minor Jam basically were two songs that were a product of where my head was at at that time, where my writing was at, which, as you say, was dominated by an African sound. I actually wrote both the tunes soon after my return from my first trip to Ghana, and so I still had some of that raw energy from the music soaked up, which seemingly came out in my own music. Singing in the Dark I wrote when I was in Bogota and so expressed myself and my feelings at that time in a different way. My music is just my expression.
And leading on from that, should we be expecting anything different from a full-length?
This will be the most complete a truthful depiction of my expression and musicality, I hope 🙂
ABOUT YOUR MIX…
How and where was it recorded?
Recorded on my decks at home.
Was there a particular idea behind it?
To basically play out my favourite tracks from all around world, with no genre restrictions.
Any tracks inside we should know a bit more about?
A lot of them, though the last four (Bille Holiday, Fatoumata Diawarra, Quantic, K Frimpong) are tracks that resonate with me for some reason.
What are you up to now you’re back?
Nothing apart from music. Playing it, making it, DJing it, singing it. All my time goes towards music when I am in London. I am working on forthcoming material, for The Busy Twist as well.
Are you back for good or will you be jetting off to another distant land soon?
Distant land? The world is smaller than you think! I will be going back to Colombia and Ghana this year in September and October, and possibly to Angola, for more Busy Twist vibes. I’ll never be back for good. I plan to always be moving around and living in other parts of the world.