A passion for drawing a lineage between sounds both old and new is core to DJ and radio broadcaster Tash LC‘s ouevre.
A regular voice on the Worldwide FM waves, her monthly Rhythm Travels show explores sounds from the African Diaspora, Southern and Latin America; sonics that also inform the output of her party turned label Club Yeke. Launching last year with the Gqom, bass-heavy experiments of Jumping Back Slash, Tash followed it up this summer with a sophomore release from Lisbon’s Bubas Produçoes, flaunting Afrohouse and Kuduro stylings.
Separate to Club Yeke, Tash helms Boko Boko! alongside fellow DJs Mina and Juba, a club night and collective that provide an inclusive and safe space for women as well as hosting workshops and tutorials, with the aim to thwart the gender imbalance within the events industry.
Her Diggers Directory mix, which also marks her first all-vinyl mix, centres around the theme of warmth. Her objective being to take the listener into sunnier days and instill the message that “everything will be alright, we’ll get through it together.” This sits alongside an interview about her relationship with records.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
My dad’s always been mad on music, and had a pretty strong record collection, but I only really became conscious of it as I got more into music beyond just a hobby. We always had loads of Soulful/Funky/Deep House on at home, mainly on the radio, so I guess dance music has always been a huge part of my life without me releasing it. One tune in particular that always makes me nostalgic for Saturday mornings dancing at home is ‘The Cure and The Cause’ by Fish Go Deep – such a TUNE! Not exactly a physical record but definitely informed my journey massively.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
When I initially began discovering all of these exciting electronic genres, I was working as a studio assistant at Radar Radio and one of the main shows I produced was Kartel which was hosted by Oli and Jack. They were playing all of these old beautiful 70s / 80s African records from Tabu Ley, Mbilia Bell, Letta Mbulu, Prince Nico, and I quickly became obsessed with doing my own digging and going home after the show to download the whole tracklist. Around this time I started visiting Sounds Of The Universe and shopping on Discogs, where I discovered more and more of these incredible musicians, and spent as much time as I could researching backgrounds and discographies. I just love making the connections between sounds old and new, and tracing lineage and roots through to music of today.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
I don’t really have a system haha. I’ve actually just started trying to file them by country which I think will be useful, but to be honest I quite enjoy just rifling through and pulling out something random that I haven’t heard in ages. My housemate actually found this huge shelving thing on Gumtree which is where I store them all for now, but I’m planning on getting a proper record storage unit soon. It would just look way nicer.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Sounds Of The Universe for suuuuuure. I used to work there and everyone is genuinely so helpful and lovely, probably the nicest service you’ll get at a record store in London for sure. I also love Honest Jons, their own label releases are honestly incredible, and they’ve also got banging CDs.
I try to make sure I dig abroad whenever I can and at the end of 2019 I was in Marseille at Galette records which is run by the eccentric/great Teddy who really knows his stuff. I spent about three hours in there and left with a bunch of amazing African and Caribbean records.
Amsterdam’s Vintage Voudou records has the most unreal and unique collection of second hand tropical and funky records. It’s tucked away behind Red Light Radio and they’ve got loads of rare gems from around the world. Mr Bongo in Brighton is also a fave. They have incredible bits from their own label but also loads of cool 7″s and second hand bits, plus they’re really nice and welcoming which is definitely a plus in the record store world which is known for being notoriously unwelcoming.
CROCODISC in Paris; maaaaan I LOVE this store. The collections are deep and it’s really hard to leave, which isn’t a bad thing, well it is when you’re strapped for cash. I last went a couple of years ago as its been closed whenever I’ve been in Paris since, but when I went I was blown away by their Afro records. I can’t remember what I got but it was a lot, one of those digging moments you won’t forget, where each find is more exciting than the next. Sound Station in Denmark has such a beautifully laid out collection and a really varied selection, I’ve only been once but plan on returning for sure
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
Definitely Teddy who I mentioned before. That guy is a joker and I spent so long in there that we got into the Chartreuse drinking phase which was fun. There was a super sweet guy called Amasana who we bought a bunch of stuff from at this little dusty cove place in Accra, Ghana. He didn’t have loads of stuff and a lot was damaged but he was so informative and helpful, and I ended up finding one of my dream records, Walatu Walasa by Wulomei which was such a highlight. My friend actually ended up leaving it in a cab by accident which I was devastated about, but Amasana replaced it for me with a few more and was so nice about it.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Oh yeah for sure. I’ve got a few on my Discogs dream list that have been sitting there for a while, either cos they’re too expensive or are out of stock. One record I’m desperate to own is Bob Marley’s ‘Selassie is The Chapel’, one of the most hauntingly beautiful tracks I’ve ever heard. It’s one of those semi-pricey investments that I’ll get around to buying eventually, also Tchinina, Os Bongos – ‘Mãe Angola / Teya’. I’ve had this on the list for ages. It’s a stunning Angolan Rebita tune featuring the vocals of Tchinina. There’s essentially no info on Tchinina to be found anywhere but she’s one of very few popular female vocalists of that 60s/70s era in Angolan music. The vocals paired with the percussion are so pure, I love this track very very much.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
Definitely as a solitary process for the most part. I do have moments where I’m with company and it can be cool to have someone to chat to about certain records, but on the whole I really do love shopping alone, or nerding out with a store owner which is also fun. I find that I like to allow myself at least an hour minimum which tends to give whoever I’m with itchy feet after a while, understandably! There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed when there’s so much to discover so I’d rather just do it alone, plus it’s more of a meditative experience for me when I can really just get lost in digging and forget about the outside for a bit.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
I tend to head straight for the Afro records and then pick up a listening selection which I’ll listen through and choose from. I’ll usually then check out the Caribbean / Antilles / Reggae bits and have a listen through, then maybe electronic stuff too. The last few digs I’ve found some banging ghetto house and chicago bits which I never usually would head for initially, but now I would say I shop with a much more open approach as there’s so much that can be lost when only focussing on one particular genre or place. I also much prefer shopping when it’s quieter so I tend to come back later when stores are emptier if I can, which also allows me more freedom to chat to staff and ask questions without feeling like a hassle.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
A huge role for sure! I’m instantly drawn to striking images and a lot of my digging is informed by images. I’m usually intrigued by a cover and will then give the record a listen, which I would say is successful about 60% of the time. A lot of what I buy when it comes to the vintage sounds is uplifting, danceable, light sounds like Highlife, Benga, Soukous etc which tend to have covers that compliment the music. A lot of my collection is striking or intriguing covers, with a lot of really interesting portraits or images of the artists which make me smile.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
So this is actually my first ever all vinyl mix and it’s more of a selection due to the nature of the records. I decided to go with the theme of warmth as it’s a feeling I’ve been trying to invoke throughout this difficult time and I find that my records have helped me through so much during this period. I’ve included a lot of vocal tracks, stuff from Jonny Clarke, Kanda Bongo Man, Singing Sandra and Carlos Lamartine who brings more of a sombre voice to the mix but still makes me think of warm days. I’ve included a little dubby segment in the middle as I’ve been getting heavily into dub and reggae recently, and the spaced out instrumental nature of dub makes me feel like I’m on another planet. I guess I mainly wanted to take people to sunnier days with this mix and instill a message of everything will be alright, we’ll get through it together.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
There’s a heavy brokenbeaty/dubby track called ‘Some Music’ on the Two Tribes compilation from Elias Agogo which I love. I came across it on a whim a couple of years and the whole comp is a standout. There’s also this wonderful Congolese Soukous tune from Doudou Bastide and Pepe Kalle called Déclaration which is so joyous Die With My Dignity from Singing Sandra is one of my absolute ANTHEMS. She sings about retaining your self respect as a young woman in Trinidad and not letting these men take you for a fool, super empowering and a reminder to remember who you areThe last track in the mix: Neto from António Paulinó who is one of my all time favourite vocalists. He was a Semba singer from 70’s Angola and was part of a cultural, musical, and political revolution that saw Angola gaining its independence, alongside artists like Os Bongos, David Zė, Os Kiezos, N’Goma Jazz and many others. It’s a really haunting track that I was so grateful to have come across as most of that 60s/70s Rebita stuff is really hard to find.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
I’ve been a huge fan of Volta 45’s collection for years. He’s a UK Ghanian DJ who has the best Highlife records. He also runs the Juju! Nights at Ritzy Brixton which are always popping. Esa has a brilliant South African collection – he plays a load on his Worldwide FM show which I love. Coco Maria hosts the Club Coco show on Worldwide where she explores Brazilian, South and Central American, Caribbean samba, jazz, charanga, cumbia and more from her super diverse and colourful collection. Armand De Presau is a French collector who runs the Nubiphone & Nanga Boko labels and the African Grooves blog, which is where I discover a lot of rarities with informative context and interesting anecdotes. He’s got a huge collection and a load of knowledge on records and scenes from all across the continent. DJ Paulette this woman is such a G. A fundamental part of house music and the UK scene, she’s overcome so many obstacles throughout her career including being the only black woman doing what she did when starting out. I interviewed her last year for Red Bull’s female workshops and she’s got such a genuine passion for the breadth of house and techno which she amplifies in her riveting sets.
Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
I really like Manchester’s SNO. She’s part of the Banana Hill collective and hails from Bophelong in the Vaal, South Africa and has been killing it over the past couple of years with some really exciting sets across the festival circuits. She’s got a great SA collection but also a really broad range of stuff across Afrobeat, Disco, Jazz and more. Zakia is also one of my faves. Her NTS show Questing is such a perfect Saturday morning soundtrack through psychedelic music from across the world, and her taste always seems to suit your mood and bring a sense of calm and ease. She also effortlessly fleets between dancey and deep but without ever losing momentum, big big fan. Poly Ritmo is another up and coming collector with a huge passion for Latin sounds which she explores on her monthly Worldwide FM show and in her energetic and uplifting DJ sets. She also works at Soundway Records now with the wonderful Alice and I look forward to seeing her influences stamped onto the label.
Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
I’m doing a DJ workshop on the 25th with Mix Nights and Saffron who do monthly sessions for women starting out in music which I’m looking forward to! I’m also gonna be reunited with my Boko! Boko! girls on the 4th September at Prince of Peckham for a lil belated carnival gig which should be fun. Label-wise I’m always getting ideas together for Yeke so hopefully Yeke 003 will be with us in the not too distant future!
I’m excited that more social events are happening slowly, even if we can’t fully dance and let go at least we can be in spaces with friends and good music for the time being. I’m also really excited about this mix being out; It’s been a while in the making due to various obstacles but I honestly just treasure any opportunity to get to share my collection and all this wonderful music with the world, so I hope I’ve done these musicians some justice x
Bright Catholic Church – Jesu Wami Uyaphila
Carlos Lamantine – Kuale N’Go Valalo
Jucas – Muxima Kuiba Cuban Festival: Traditional Music of the Famous Havana Festival – El Barracon
Keitha Fodeba: African Songs – Bakin
Caribbean Island Music: Odalicia Ventura and group – Ay Lola Eh Golden Sunshine Steel Band – Drums and Steel Song
Tapes Meets The Drums of Wareika Hill Sounds – Datura Mystic
Jonny Clarke – Jah Is The Sunshine
Elias Agogo – Some Music
Wailing Souls: Fire Deh A Muss Muss Tail (Version)
Tapes Meets The Drums of Wareika Hill Sounds – Datura Mystic (Dub)
Siti Muharam ft Tamar Collocutor – Ashikibaya (Sam Jones Construct)
Ikú Awólowo – Níbo Là ń Lo?
Sisi Oniro Nite Blues Steel Band – Help Me Make It Through The Night
Rising Stars 87: Free Up (Instrumental) – Marilyn
Calypso Rose – Her Majesty
Singing Sandra – Die With My Dignity
Doudou Bastille and Pepe Kalle – Déclaration
N’kassa Cobra – Badjuda Bonito
Orchestre mando negro – na banzi
Pedro Lima – Nga Ba Compensadora
António Paulino – Neto