Whilst we cannot visit most of the world during the current pandemic in person, we can continue to immerse ourself in global communities through their culture and connection with local artists. That is exactly what we are getting to do with this very special city guide curated with the creator of the Ethiopian electronic sound, Endeguena aka Ethiopian Records.
Ethiopian Records was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he drew on traditional influences and electronic technology to create the unique Ethiopiyawi Electronic sound. In this very special feature he guides us through all the sounds, sights and smells of one of the most culturally rich and vibrant cities in the world, capital of the only African country never to have been colonised, home to Mulatu Astatke and numerous other Ethiopian-Jazz legends. Listen to the mix of all local music he created for us and let yourself get lost in the great heritage and contemporary creativity of this East African city.
Have a listen of the mix whilst getting to know more about the city through Endeguena’s answers below.
Favourite place to buy records (old and/or new)?
To be honest, tapes are not that common anymore, what was common a few years back and still is slightly common is CDs, I believe most people get their music either online or on USB sticks/memory cards. But these are my favorite music shops still that are still open: Electra music shop has been producing and distributing tapes and CDs for the last 46 years, it is located right in front of the old bus station.
Favorite live music venue?
Fendika is hands down my favorite place for live music, you have a mix of traditional music from all corners of Ethiopia along with legendary jazz musicians performing there. It is also an art gallery and a cultural center, I would say it is one of the beating hearts of Addis Ababa’s art and music scene.
African Jazz Village is the home base of Gash Mulatu Astatqe. Another spot to check out is Mogesdire in Kazanchis.
Best sound-system / favorite club?
Great Ethiopian Sound System has the crispiest and clearest sounds I have ever heard in Addis Ababa. I can’t say I have a favorite club as I am not much of a clubber. I prefer smaller intimate venues like Absinthe (which is closed now) and Ambiance.
Best party in Addis Ababa?
Right now there are no parties happening but other than the events that we throw on WAG our event company, events like Muziqawi Silt, No Requests and Tiqur Gissela that we use to throw and will hopefully, I would also recommend Milu Presents parties.
Describe Addis Ababa in three words.
Home, Vibrant, Diverse.
Best view of the city?
Entoto, Lideta View Point, Melata Gara (Bald Hill) next to Washa Mikael church
Best spot for a picnic?
Entoto Park, Melata Gara
Is there somewhere you like going to escape the hustle and bustle and take some time away for yourself?
Other than my production time, I like taking long walks around Summit, Entoto, Lideta Hills or anywhere in the city Sundays specially.
What is a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner in Addis Ababa? What are the best local dishes?
Genfo (Ethiopian porridge), Bula (made from an Ethiopian Ensset root, an indigenous plant), Spris juice (Mixed/Layered Freshly squeezed Juices), Firfir (chopped up injera mixed with spices), Ful, Dulet (an Ethiopian combination of beef, liver, and lamb tripe) ,Beyayenetu (assorted vegan plater served on injera), Tibs (Stir fried meat), Tire Sega (raw meat), Shiro (chickpea stew)
Tomoca, Alem Bunna, Sparrow Café, Lion Bar & Restaurant in front of National Theatre, Tea Room Cafe Piassa , Enricos
Temsalet Kitchen, Mimi Ferefer, Choma Grill, Azmera Shiro, Effoi Pizza, Bait Al Mendi, Korma, Shifta
Black Rose, Tana/Garden Court
What are the best local dishes or street food in Addis Ababa & where to eat them?
Shiro (Chickpea stew), Misir (Lentil Stew) , Beyayentu , Doro Wot (Chicken stew), but these are not street foods, street foods aren’t a big thing in Addis.
Best place to experience something unique to Addis Ababa?
Meskel Square early in the morning watch the sunrise while doing mass exercise/sport, I also really like walking around on Sundays along the almost empty streets.
What iconic building(s) in your city should one go take a look at and why?
The National Theater has a lot of art history and is still operational (not during covid-19).
Any cool non-record and non-music shops worth checking out?
Lomi Clothe Shop (around kazanchis),
Are there any markets to visit in Addis Ababa?
Merkato , Shola Gebeya, Atkelt Tera, Shiromeda are the biggest markets.
If we had to buy one local thing from your city to take back, what would it be?
One thing… I really can’t choose this one,
What do you associate most strongly with Addis Ababa?
Diversity. All of Ethiopia is represented here
First thing you miss after leaving Addis Ababa?
Where are the most beautiful spots in Addis Ababa?
I like the outskirts of the city where farmers are still around, where you can see the fields even if their numbers are dwindling and construction is replacing them, which is a shame and something that I wish we could stop.
Best place to see another medium of art other than music?
Zoma Museum, Medemer Africa Art Museum, Zellan Art Center (even if it is closed now because of Covid-19), Shifta (it is a restaurant that is also a work of art itself)
What is your city’s traditional musical sound and dance style and where do you recommend going to see either or them?
Ethiopia has over 86 cultures living together and I would say Fendika is one of the places where you can see some of the cultures but traveling around outside Addis Ababa and going to each specific space is the best way.
Where will you find the friendliest, most interesting locals to have a chat with?
Everywhere, literally everywhere, Addis Ababa is filled with interesting and friendly human beings so is the entire of Ethiopia depending on your approach and your intentions of course.
What’s the best and worst thing about living in Addis Ababa?
The food, the people / The pollution, the traffic
Who’s doing good things for Addis Ababa music right now, who you’d like to shout out?
I would like to give a shout out to Melaku Belay, Qetselawork Seifu, Rutha Jo, Leul Shoaferaw, Mekbib Tadesse, Zellan Cultural Center, The P.A.R.C., Girum Seifu
Are there any interesting organizations/charities/NGOs/projects involving music, based or happening in your city? Charities and NGOs involving music?
I don’t know of any, I don’t believe there are but if I am wrong I will let my fellow Ethiopians correct me, but you can donate to Fendika’s gofundme and these are organizations you can donate to that are doing work around vulnerable communities during covid-19 @yeneseworg, @egnalegna.
Are there any festivals either in or around your city that are worth checking out?
Covid-19 has halted all events as you know but Addis Jazz Festival, Azmari Festival are festivals I follow very closely.
What are some of your favorite up-and-coming DJs/producers/musicians bubbling up inAddis Ababa right now?
Negarit Band , Yohannes Hadish, Nerliv, Yoni on the beat, Ahadu, Yohanna Sahle, Mesob Band, Asli Band, Dawit Cherenet, Chelina, Pamfalon, Iri, Ethio Color
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us? Where and how did you record it, what was the idea behind it and are there?
In this mix what I have tried to do is incorporate all the musicians I really like and that have defined what I do from the past and musicians from today that I really love the vibe and music of. I have also tried to showcase the diversity of Ethiopian musicians by including music from all of the corners of Ethiopia, I want to add to the discourse that’s happening all over the world about the choice between diversity and assimilation and say diversity is the only way to go that truly can involve everyone’s voice and empower everyone’s voice, you can’t do that in just one hour or two or ten or thousands of hours, which is why conversations are needed, many of them, but this is one of the very small pieces of my say in the discourse. And as you are listening to this mix, know that I am ready to listen to you to, no matter your ideas, I will guarantee that I will try my best to listen, I only expect the same from you. Bless!
And finally, what’s on the horizon for you in terms of show dates, releases or any upcoming projects that we should look out for?
On the horizon, well for the past few years, other than music making I have been focusing on the industry building side, learning and trying things out, because in my own journey as a musician I have seen that representation, true representation and organization for non western musicians, and specially for independent musicians from my continent is lacking tremendously and instead of just complaining about it as is I use to do when I was younger, I decided to do something about with fellow creatives I have created a representation/ booking / event company called WAG entertainment about a year and some ago, with the idea to grow it into a record label and a creation space that’s slightly bigger than just the individual creation space that I use to have. As we were trying to do that covid 19 hit and right now we are trying to do this crowdfunding called WEL a double EP project of mine as a pilot project for both the creation space and the record label, so that’s what we are focusing on right now, the project is up on indiegogo, it all run by creatives who are learning as they go, and the project has for aim to hire 23 creatives and creative professionals to make it a reality who right now have little to no employment, that’s what we are working on. Future wise, if all goes well, you will get a lot more projects like this from not just me but also from other artists and creatives from creative owned and run space.
Jigsaw – Harambe A frica
Ethio color – Mali Malonaye
Woudasse Band – Mejemeriya
Ali Birra – Inyaadi’ini
Ahadu – Yabbal
Asgegnew Ashko (Asge) – Mooro
Eyorr & Kibrom Berhane – Lofi with Kibrom
Hachalu Hundessa – Maalan Jira
Ethiopian Records – Tesfa Newu Sinqe (Jallala)
Bezunesh Beqele – Megnoten Mane Awouqo
Abraham Afeworqe – Fishikta Ameley
Pamfalon – Yigermal (Sunday Walk Version)
Eebbisaa Addunyaa – Bale Beshonbi
Tsedi – Maneh
Moseb Band – Tefetro ena anchi
*note and side message: Jigsaw- Harambe Africa and Polyphonie Hammar are taken from compilations done by westerners in Ethiopia where they barely or do not at all note the names of the artists but the name of the people who did the recording is registered properly hence why we will not name these westerners not on this note or anywhere else, you don’t respect artists and value their work, you belittle, don’t pay, underpay, and condescend them the favor shall be returned to you. I want to point out that I strongly not only oppose such appalling behavior I would also like to point out that the tracks are on sale online right this moment and no one bothers to ask if the artists or their descendants are remunerated properly, like it happens to many African non traditional and traditional musicians and traditional musicians around the world, to every westerner still doing such things and more in older traditional forms like these people, or updated forms that come in forms of tokenization or other, no one asked you or needs you to “preserve” “save” or “study” our cultures, if it wasn’t for your ruling classes chokehold over most of the global south we would be able to do that ourselves for ourselves. Do better and be better! Bless!