‘Grime MC’: Jme’s latest project is a lesson in authenticity in the social media age
A French nomad based in Lisbon, iZem covers all bases as both a DJ and producer, who started writing music during a seven year spate of travelling through Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Ireland and Portugal. Joining the dots between cutting-edge beat-making and post-tropical influences, his two EPs have been supported across the globe from the likes of BBC's Gilles Peterson and KCRW's Anthony Valadez.
Most happy when he's globetrotting, iZem will be in London this weekend for an appearance at Do Dat Den!, where he will a play alongside Brackles and resident DJs at The Castle in Whitechapel. Ahead of the event, he drops an exclusive mix that sums up the sheer heat of his recent unreleased beats, remixes, and edits.
In iZem's own words:
"This mix follows the release of my debut album 'Hafa' last year. It was a self-release album, but it got such a great reception from DJ’s and radios (played by both Mount Kimbie and Bonobo on their NTS shows) that Soundway records just offered me to re-release it on vinyl this year. In the meantime, I wanted to put together some of my recent work which sounds more percussive and rhythm-based. It is not necessarily the kind of music that I get to play in clubs as it’s kind of downtempo and doesn’t always suit the late-night vibe.
I was obviously heavily influenced by the thriving Lisbon afro-electronic scene, but also by my research in jazz and instrumental music as opposed to the more song-oriented format of my debut album. Reading Miles Davis' autobiography and diving into '50s and '60s modal jazz definitely had an impact on the drum sounds of the opening track, which were mainly sampled from some Max Roach’s solos. The second track is an attempt to bridge te gap between hip hop beats and kuduro vocals (kuduro and afrobeats are big in the Lisbon suburb), while maintaining the general percussive and polyrhythmic angle of the mixtape.
The following couple of remixes are also still unreleased and the draw in the same “halftime afro-beats” idea that runs throughout the mixtape. Sophie and Debruit’s edits are both DJ tools that I have been using in my sets lately. The added latin percussion in Sophie was definitely influenced by my recent Latin American tour and is keeping the consistency with the general tropical feel of my sets, while the Débruit track has been cut from its less danceable parts and extended to keep people raving.
The London Afrobeat Orchestra remix has been a hit amongst global minded DJs, including airplay from Gilles Peterson and many others. It is still available as a free download on my Soundcloud page. Most of those tracks will be released in the coming month so stay tuned!"
Listen to the mix below, and catch him in action at Do Dat Den! this Saturday.