Words by Manal Aziz

Atlas Electronic Podcast 011: DJ Kampire – lively, upbeat, an unapologetic representation of a take on and beyond the modern-day diaspora. A mix for those who dare to dance.

Only two days after the most recent bombing in Burkina Faso, I got to talk to DJ Kampire about her role as a DJ, a feminist and proud queer woman. Bringing together sounds of the African diaspora of both the old- and new school, her artistry is the embodiment of connecting. Unsurprisingly, she’s fittingly been named “The DJ that makes Kampala dance” by jeuneafrique.com. Not yet considered a veteran in the industry, her young-spirited enthusiasm and activism will hopefully shake up the continent. Find out more about DJ Kampire, her young-spirited mind, the roots of her inspiration and the power of dance music as a tool for inclusion. Scroll down for podcast 011 and its tracklist; if you dare to dance.

Yes, I am in Ouagadougou currently. It’s actually my second visit to Burkina Faso. I was here last year for the festival Africa Bass Cultures and this year, in addition to performing alongside my colleagues, I am putting up an installation of our art project. It’s called The Salooni and it’s a celebration of black hair.

I don’t think of Burkina as mysterious, I feel quite at home here, despite the 40-degree heat. Like in Uganda, people are very friendly and laid back, and I feel very much at home here. Unfortunately, there was an armed attack in the city last week, which has put a bit of a damper on festival plans. But the country is resilient and everyone is going about their business during the day and continuing to party and socialise by night.

You’ve been brought up in Zambia where the seeds of your musical taste have been planted. How do your personal and physical journey from Zambia to Uganda align with the journey of your musical upbringing?

I am very much influenced by the music of my childhood, and my sets are often peppered with references to hits from Southern and Eastern Africa in the 80s and 90s. My dad is still a massive fan of Franco and TP OK Jazz and I think those sounds planted in me a deep appreciation for African popular music; the irresistible call of polyrhythms and Lingala guitars.

As a core Nyege Nyege artist, you are part of a very important movement in Uganda’s thriving (underground) club scene. Safe spaces for the LGBTQ community are a necessary rarity in which you seem to have been able to provide. How would you say current politics and your music coexist?

I’m drawn to the power of dance music to create community. Kampalans love to dance and socialise and even though we come from a deeply divided place in terms of class and “moral values”, the dance floor is where we come together. It’s unfortunate then, that so many nightclubs and events are unsafe for women and other minorities. It’s a function of my participation in the scene as a DJ and a queer woman that I do my part to change that.

Music has, for centuries if not millennia, worked as a glue over bridging many differences between humans, cultures, countries, even worlds. The borderless character of music in combination with modern technology and internet opens unlimited new territories. It’s safe to say, with the second-youngest population in the world, Uganda is a country that houses the future. How would you, ideally, see these possibilities be used?

I’m definitely inspired by young African producers and the possibilities presented by the internet and new production software. I’m excited about artists like Faizal Mostrixx, Rey Sapiens, Nonku Phiri, Jowaa, who are making amazing music. And I love that thanks to the internet there is so much musical conversation and collaboration across the continent and diaspora.

Being in Burkina Faso brings a lot of this meaning to the fore because, just like in Uganda, artists are finding ways to make a living doing what they love. Festival organisers running on sweat and tears to throw events to bring lovers of obscure sounds together. We should be connecting and exchanging and sharing but the physical and geopolitical distance is wide. I feel privileged to be among the few who get to travel across these worlds.

You stand at the beginning of a very promising career. A realisation that can be experienced as both exciting and frightening to some. How do you perceive your role as a DJ/artist into shaping people’s lives?

DJing is not something I expected to be doing, so I don’t think of myself as doing anything quite as significant as “shaping people’s lives” every time I play a set. Most of the time, I just want to make my friends dance. I think that’s as good a goal as any. Dancing is a vital human experience. It allows us to be free and connect on a primal level. I’m happy to contribute to this momentary joy that hopefully bleeds into the rest of life.

Thanks so much for your contribution to the series! I’ve indeed heard about the attack in Burkina, glad to hear you’re fine and that the people are resilient. Our hearts go out to the innocent victims. Listen to Atlas Electronic Podcast 011 – 50 minutes of good vibes only – by DJ Kampire below.

The Atlas Electronic Podcast series has been created for the sole purpose of sonic education and entertainment. Get to know the people behind the artists and learn about the creation process. Find tracklists to elaborate your music library or simply expand your musical horizon. Got to SoundCloud for the full extent of our auditory archive.