Palmistry on how his father’s death inspired ‘Afterlife’ and working with SOPHIE on Rihanna material
The Invisible have experienced great success with their latest album ‘Rispah’ which was billed as “a love letter to grief” by the band’s lead singer David Okumu. Following up from their Mercury Prize nominated debut, ‘Rispah’ maintains purity and sadness while still managing to explore avenues of soul, trip hop, jazz and African music.
This eclectic mix is a personal representation of Okumu consisting of music made by himself and great tracks that he loves, as well as some exclusive remixes and production. For him, mixes reflect everything about a person from their sexual orientation to organisational skills and this one really reflects something beautiful.
How’s it going?
All good thanks.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix?
It’s a combination of some music I’ve made and some music I love. Mixes fascinate me because they can tell you so much about a person. You may be able to glean whether they are open minded or not, how they want to be perceived, what their sexual orientation is, whether they are considered and meticulous or carefree and shambolic… Whenever I make a mix I can’t help thinking about all the music I was introduced to through the tapes my brother and sisters used to make me when I was growing up in Vienna. It’s a wonderful thing to share stuff you love. I also find it incredibly exciting to experience the way in which music changes depending on context. I have a very powerful memory of hearing Pablo Clements drop UFO by ESG in a set and it sounded like something I’d never heard before, even though I had heard it many times. This was due to what had preceded it and what came after.
We were shocked to hear about your recent accident. Can you tell us more about what happened?
I received a sustained and potentially fatal electric shock whilst performing on stage in Lagos. It was the most horrific physical experience I’ve ever had and I count myself incredibly fortunate to be alive. Here’s to being alive!
How has the recovery process been?
The recovery process has been incredible. I keep thinking about something I heard Maya Angelou say, effectively that we discover who we really are through the transcendence of suffering. Tom, Leo & I shared an enormously traumatic experience that night in Lagos and our love for one another and the love around us has seen us through.
You were over there with King Sunny Ade. What were you doing with the guy, and would you like to speak about the influence of his music on yours?
We had been invited to collaborate with Nigerian musicians as part of the BT Rivers of Music programme which is running round the Olympics. King Sunny Ade was top of our wish list and we were stunned when he agreed to work with us. He pretty much invented a style of music called Juju which has had an enormous influence on western dance music. His influence on some of my favourite records, such as Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, is palpable. It is well documented how much Nigerian music influenced David Byrne and Brian Eno during this golden era, to name but a few.
I adore ‘Rispah’. Would you like to tell us something about it?
Thank you. We’re really proud of what we’ve made so it’s great to know that it’s connecting with people beyond our sphere. The record stands as a tribute to my beloved mum, whom we lost during the process of making it. She was the embodiment of love and acceptance and, through her example, taught me how to navigate through life. After her death, music became a context in which to explore grief. All I wanted to do was grieve because I love her so much. It was an enormous relief to discover that grieving isn’t just about sadness and pain, it is also about clarity and joy and celebration. I really hope this comes through in our music.
There are a number of exclusive remixes and productions from on the mix – can you speak about your take on remixing and production?
Remixing has an inherent recreational aspect to it because it’s an opportunity to realise an interpretation of something in some way. We are always interpreting things through the filter of our perception. In my view, remixing is like taking this premise a step further. There is a lot of remixing that goes on that feels pretty complacent and unimaginative but I love hearing music being reinterpreted by creative minds. It kind of reaffirms my belief that music shouldn’t be static.
Production is a much broader term. It can mean so many different things. Ultimately it is about doing whatever is required to realise a vision. The role of a producer can comprise anything from the practical and technical right through to the emotional. All my favourite producers seem to have a really sophisticated understanding of people. It’s something I aspire to.
What does it teach you about music?
Remixing and production teaches me that great music and great ideas never stop giving.
What are you excited about at the moment musically?
Watching King Sunny Ade and his musicians play in close proximity was a life-changing experience. I’ve never seen music performed in that way. They were like one organism. Jai Paul’s track Jasmine still blows my mind. I love how removed it feels from so much contemporary music, which often sounds like it is desperately vying for your attention. It has a rare poise and grace to it. I’ve had Mica’s track OK on repeat these last few days. Amazing. It sounds like The Beatles without sounding like The Beatles. Again, I am drawn to the courage of the free thinker. I was lucky enough to hear a record my friends have just made. They’re called Hejira. It’s an amazingly accomplished debut album. Hello Skinny’s record is phenomenal too. Moats & Thrones blow my mind with every single performance. And I’m really excited about Jessie Ware’s record dropping in august. I’ll leave it there before my blackberry crashes….
What’s your favourite thing to do in London?
I still get a kick going over bridges. I LOVE london.