2016 was a tough year in many of ways, but for us it will always mark the birth of Worldwide FM. Gilles looks back on his favourite moments of 2016.
Looking back over the 12 months just gone, especially post New Years day, was always going to be hard. Trying to remember everything that has happened is becoming an annual challenge in itself. But this year especially seems to have gone into hyper drive, so I’m almost accepting I’m only going to have limited recall, but for me I will always have 2016 down as the year of Worldwide FM – a chance to create a music hub to celebrate the artists and culture that I love so much.
I realise now that running a radio station is a long game – it’s not just for Christmas – but the chance to invite my favourite artists and selectors to expand themselves has been irresistible, too many highlights already, from Abdullah Ibrahim to DJ Marfox, whilst pop ups in different cities has been a great way to connect with the shop owners and local producer and Dj communities: Marseilles, LA, Amsterdam, Lisbon… it’s been great to meet everybody and I have a real feeling of a growing community momentum. It really helps me get a sense of where underground music is at in different corners of the globe. There is so much creativity being fostered in ways that takes notice of everything happening in the global context, but also it manifests in very local interesting and personal ways. It makes me very excited for the coming year. I’m looking forward to coming from Mumbai and Rio in the coming weeks.
And I have to say, watching the WWFM and Brownswood teams combining during our Xmas special for a full day of broadcasting, this energy made the whole enterprise seem worth while. A new camp with a glint in its eye reminiscent to my early days of pirate radio, what more can I ask for?
I am at that stage in my career where words like mentoring and inspiration and encouragement seem part of the daily language.
We, the generation that took so much energy and hope from acid house which in turn had taken from those alternative rebellious scenes that had built it’s foundations, have a responsibility, now more than ever, I feel, to educate and inspire the new broadcasters, DJs and future music industry players.
With the chaos that is now the world of politics, come both new hope and of course, real dangers. I am part of a generation who have thankfully avoided wars and have lived a safe(r) life… but with the charlatans, swindlers and outright wrong thinking folk making a play to either influence or actually start running things, it’s time for us to fight back, and this is where culture as always becomes so important. Music together with literature and creative thinking will be our saviours in the end.
Chuck D famously said that hip hop was the black CNN and in the spirit of music providing platforms for unheard and ignored voices to express their feelings and how they see the world heard. It’s both an exciting and important time. As you can see from my albums of the year, it’s been a great year for the spoken word and a new kind of reaction to bling culture. Thoughtful yet subversive music has dominated, from Baby Father to Powell in dance and from Danny Brown, Trim and Noname in word to Mette Henriette and Shabaka in Jazz, a new sense of social reflection is coming back centre stage. In fact, one of my records of the year was the Kanye album from an artistic point of view, but he seemed out of sync with the new wave of thinking and marketing. Could he be the first victim of a more ‘humility’ based music scene perhaps?
The arch Nazi architect Goring said when he heard the word culture it made him reach for his gun. That’s because at it’s best it can influence a positivity and togetherness that through the conversation and shifting sands of what culture is, can start to create the background and mood to find and build a place where we all feel comfortable and belong. Like Viv Albertine says in her book, “musicians are the real teachers. They are opening us up politically with their lyrics and creativity with experimental, psychedelic music.” In this kind of spirit – the search to find places to foster experimental environments where these cultural conversations can take place is crucial. So that’s why 2016 to me will always be the year WWFM started, and will become my focus over the coming years. I hope it can become a platform for creative thinking, culture, and music.
12 Highlights 2016
Jan: Anderson Paak UK debut at the Worldwide Awards.
Feb: Release of Yussef Kamaal Record “Black Focus”.
Mar: Worldwide FM begins a series of test broadcasts.
Apr: Steve Reid Foundation fundraiser at Output Brixton with Jamie xx, Floating Points and Four Tet.
May: Meeting Terumasa Hino Tokyo and his performance with S+P Sessions at Ageha.
June: Nils Frahm talking about “Victoria” the film in Brownswood Basement.
July: Boiler Room in Brownswood with Lefto, Photay, Mura Masa and Dayme.
Aug: Presenting the Freak Zone on BBC 6 Music.
Sep: George Clinton and Sa Ra team up with Miguel Atwood Ferguson at How We Do: LA with WeTransfer.
Oct: Sonzeira live in Japan.
Nov: Double New York Marathon and DJ Set combined and making $21,000 for Steve Reid foundation.
Dec: Badbadnotgood win album of the year at BBC 6 Music, ahead of Bowie n all.
Gigs of the year
Sons of Kemet – Rich Mix
Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra – Passing Clouds
Moses Boyd – Church of Sound
James Zoo – Worldwide Festival
Kadja Bonnet – Dimensions Festival
Chick Corea – Blue Note New York
Yussef Kamaal – Koko
Ata Kak – Amsterdam
Club sessions of the year
The UK is so good at the moment, which makes it easier travel wise for sure! There are great promoters all around the country who have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that was missing for a while. Sound is key of course, but also a sense of community in promoting club culture correctly. Manchester, Leeds are always brilliant places to go, but Liverpool and Brighton have stepped up again. Maybe Bristol could do with stepping up again in 2017…
The residencies are winning out right now, so massive big ups to Raphy and the Bellevilloise massive for giving me the most fun 4 times a year in Paris, and what a night we had for NYE – 2000 folks dancing to Mala and Roni Size.
My new sessions in London at XOYO and a very special time at Phonox for my first 6 hour shift back in November – Love in Outer Space
Meanwhile, memorable sessions UK:
Leftfoot is back with a bang bringing those Birmingham vibes like back in the days.
Tuesday Club Sheffield with Banana Hill and Acid Arab was a nice surprise, mad full on scenes.
Patterns Brighton – about time Brighton came back into the fold, I’ll be back in 2017.
Farr festival was my favourite in the UK this year….and Strange Sounds from Beyond in Amsterdam was outstanding… Ata Kak, Antal and Omar Souleyman made it a great place to hang out after my set. also around the world.
Italy Torino Jazz Refound festival and Milan jazz festival, Italy. Very much back in the mix in 2016. Shouts to Khalab and Clap Clap and Nicola Conte.
Japan is also finding its feet again after a few years of strict no dancing laws and closing record shops – a new sense of optimism from DJs and promoters.
Loved playing at Rainbow Disco Festival in May and a great little club outside Tokyo which Harvey has down as one of his faves. Oppa-La in Enoshima, a whole different vibe from what I was used to in Tokyo especially – very surfy and bohemian, loved it.
2016 also started on a high with a show in Recife with Karol Conka adding to Tamtamtam reinterpreted. My 2 major highlights of the year though were How We Do: LA in September with George Clinton just chillin backstage and jamming with SaRa and co… deep. But the number 1 as always was closing the Worldwide Fest with a bit of Edith Piaf. Emotional.
I’ll be back with tracks of the year later…