Self-Portrait: Faizal Mostrixx

Faizal at Supersonic Africa, Nairobi for Extra Soul Perception. Photo: Dan Medhurst.

Through his music production, Kampala-based artist and performer Faizal Mostrixx seeks to preserve and evolve African cultural heritage. Focused on giving traditional organic rhythms an electronic touch, but without fitting them into a typical “dance music” blueprint, he has fostered his own unique strand of Ugandan dance music, using processed sounds and traditional instrumentation.

Also a skilled performer and dancer, Faizal’s energy and originality on stage is electric, seeing him merge Afro Futurist themes and historical references. As well as being a voice and mentor for a new generation of Ugandan dancers, he has also been instrumental in the development of the Batalo East dance festival and the Ugandan Breakdance jams.

Towards the end of 2019, alongside several other musicians from Uganda, Kenya and the UK, including Hibotep, K15 and Lex Amor, Faizal became part of Extra Soul Perception, a collaborative project that aimed to create new tangents in soul music. Culminating in a performance in Nairobi, and then several dates in the UK, the project will be rounded off with a double LP featuring the fruits of their studio collaborations in the coming months.

Alongside an interview about his approach to production, his original material mix drops you into his world of electronic rhythms, channeling the spirit and culture of his home country.

Extra Soul Perception – New Tangents…Vol 1 is out 3rd July – buy from Bandcamp.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

Music has been in sync with my soul since my early childhood. My mother always took me with her to their traditional (Baganda) dance and musical troupe practice, so I used to watch and listen as they sang, drummed and danced to these groovy and grounded beats of the earth. On the other side my dad always brought new music to the house, he collected CDs and cassettes while on his safari/ business trips between Kenya and Uganda.

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

Well it has always been forging my voice out in the music realm. I never received any formal teaching, solely exploiting educational resources available, mainly online and exchanging with other creatives. I acquired and honed my skills by my own efforts: little by little, relentlessly. I not only learned how to produce music and express my identity through my sound, but also how to navigate the music industry.

What led you into music production?

My journey into producing is a search to find own identity. As a versatile dancer I have always experimented and explored musicality with various genres for choreography, dance workshops and audio-visual. So when I first discovered production I saw an opportunity to showcase and share yet another African story and make a living. I love creating sounds and technology has given me a chance to see beyond my potential in sound textures, seeing people dance to my tracks in clubs to Adidas originals  syncing it. Creation is very rewarding for me and that makes me not wanna hold back on those afro futurist beats.

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

I have met and seen a lot of interesting and inspiring people on different levels during my artistic journey, the list is endless but to mention a few: Black Coffee, Daft Punk, Timbaland, Skrillex, Diplo, CloZee, Wizkid, Boddhi Sativa etc.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

I do sometimes blaze it up when am feeling low to ease and hype my mood before studio sessions. If its a brighter day I just go without and make sure I eat enough before.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

Some times I have melodies pop in my head that are clear and specific that I want to experience or bring to ear, so capturing feelings and moments it’s kind of appealing to my work flow.

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

People call me a perfectionist but I would say I am both. Overall I like well made and seamless tracks.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

I am always having a conversation between myself and the sound I am working on. For example I will start creating a melody from my head and then duplicate it in six different channels or instruments to experiment with for more melodic options and dynamics to choose from later. Same for drums/percussions and samples. After creating enough material I will then start to play a game and trigger them channels randomly to find those that compliment each other musically.

Then boom I have the intro and hook and the rest is arrangement and special effects according to how I want it to sound.

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

I would say 50/50. I prefer to have it on a balanced scale because sampling is at the bottom of electronic music.

I have mostly sampled African traditional instruments so far. In a way they they don’t lose their authenticity in sound texture.

What’s the most important bits of kit that make a Laurence Guy track?

Mac Pro 15. Ableton push. Pair of headsets and the mind.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Faizal Mostrixx material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

I have a special connection to each of my tracks because each one carries a story in this mix. It contains different influences from the places I have traveled to and today I continue to capture feelings and emotions around me when that urge to create kicks in. That being said, the last track is one I made during lockdown here in Kampala and its expressing a free spirit that escapes the global shut down and back to serving the earth with joyfully and powerful sets.

Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?

My latest Ebikokyo EP meaning riddles featuring Ugandan folk singer Suzan Kerunen and Instrumentalist Aloysius Migadde was released in Mayis, out for purchase on my Bandcamp and streaming worldwide. ESP family is finally releasing the collaboration EP between Uganda, Kenya and UK-based artists. The new tangents in soul music will be out.

Extra Soul Perception – New Tangents…Vol 1 is out 3rd July – buy from Bandcamp.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about our decision here.

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