Infusions: Arp Frique mixes the diverse rhythms of Cape Verde

A series connected to our globe-trotting Infusions party where DJs explore the music of a particular country, artist, era or movement they’re experts in.

After spending six years at medical school, all it took to change Niels Nieuborg’s professional trajectory was a job at a Caribbean restaurant, opening his eyes to the vibrant music cultures of the Netherland’s immigrant population. Particular attracted to the the sounds of Cape Verde, where his Rotterdam home has the most expats of anywhere in the world, he spent the next 20 years immersing himself with their rhythms. Only recently, he’s felt ready to add something to the Islands’ story as Arp-Frique. His debut EP on Rush Hour last year received a Track of the Year nomination at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards and it was soon followed up by a long player on his own label Colourful World, featuring collaborations with Orlando Julius, Ed Motta, Americo Brito and Ronald Snijders no less. A modern day expert of the diverse rhythms of Cape Verde, his Infusions mix shows the country’s music in all its glory.

Welcome To The Colorful World of Arp Frique LP is out now – buy from Bandcamp.

Can you tell us a bit about your Infusions theme? What does it mean to you and why is it significant to you as a DJ and music lover?

I was born and lived most of my life in Rotterdam, the second city of the Netherlands. It’s a fascinating city, with a big Cape Verdean population right in the heart of the city, mixed with many other inhabitants from Surinam, Curacao, Morocco, Brazil and so on. But the Cape Verdean touch makes the city very different from other cities. It’s something I was drawn to in my twenties and I started playing guitar in a Cape Verdean band playing what they called ghettozouk. Years later there is all of a sudden this massive interest on a global scale for Cape Verdean music, mostly funana and the more dance floor oriented stuff, the stuff that I used to dance to at birthdays and other Cabo parties. It’s a very elegant touch they add to the music, something mysterious and deep, with African, Portuguese, disco, funk and blues in it, even a bit of Jimi Hendrix in there at times. It’s been around me for the last 20 years and now I am finally in the position to add something to it, working with Americo Brito (below), and also performing a few other (Not Americo’s) classics from the Cape Verdean repertoire live with my band (below). It’s very surreal at times, like I created my own time machine.

Tell us an interesting fact about Cape Verde you think we won’t know.

Hmmmm. Lisa Lefteye Lope was a Cape Verdean! Oh, and did you know Rotterdam houses the second biggest Cape Verdean community outside the Cape Verdean islands? Crazy thing is that my studio (originally based in Rotterdam) moved to a small town close to Amsterdam called Zaandam, pretty much the only other city in Holland with a significant Cape Verdean community, which I found out months after the studio relocated. Coincidence?

Did you compile the mix with an idea in mind?

Tes, I wanted to give the people what hey want hahaha. No seriously, I had to put some hardcore funana uptempo (150+bpm) in there while also showcasing the diversity of the islands at the same time, without boring you all too much with long outs and such.

Any standouts from the mix you’d like to give special mention too?

Mocinhos from Zeca and Zeze De Nha Reinalda is one of my personal favourites. I think I should do this one live at some point. Haunting guitar solo by Paulinho Vieira, great production he did. Zeca and Deze are brothers and came up with some pretty brilliant stuff especially in their days as a duo.

Congrats on your recent debut album. How has Cape Verdean music played a role?

It played a part, but not the main part. The album is very much my view on what I’m digging now, what I feel I wanna play, so Brazil, Nigeria, Surinam, Jamaica and Mali are all in there as well, plus my love for disco, funk, boogie. Oh yeah, and I am really deep into the analog synthesizers. All of these things are still evolving and the next album will pick up where I left off. Don’t know where it’s gonna land yet.

Anything else on the horizon you’re excited about in 2018?

Yes! The second edition of my annual event called Festival Magia, gonna be bigger brighter and deeper than last year, very much looking forward to that. And I will be releasing more music this year on my label Colorful World, not just my own stuff but some other things too. More info on that soon. x

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