An avid crate digger and the mother of African Acid Is The Future, Maryama Luccioni, lovingly and rather attractively known as Maryisonacid, delivers a flush podcast for the IA MIX Series ripe with undulated rhythms, blistering beats, and perked-up textures that pump through the veins red-hot, bringing the body to a new portal.
A righteous advocate of the African sound of diaspora, she keeps her music philosophy alive by vigorously fleshing out multi-genre treasures from the land of original rhythm and tempo coupled with elements of her upbringing straight from Paris Barbès to the punk scene of Berlin.
Across her 60-minute mix, Maryisonacid draws a passage to another world bewitched with enigmatic blends moving at a flirtatious shifting pace sourced directly from her individuality to form sensual, percussive hours and after-hours of murk and sweat for dancefloors of the future.
Limited edition cassette available from Inverted Audio Store.
Interview by Asmi Shetty
"My intention for this selection was to deliver something from the now, my DJ instinct of the moment, it’s pretty raw, percussive, trippy, from the forest to the streets via an imaginary world or dimension you’d reach while listening to it"
Hi Maryama, thank you kindly for recording such a captivating podcast for the IA MIX Series. It was a pleasure to listen to it. If you could express in a sentence or two, how would you describe this mix?
I wanted to provide a mix that truly represents the variety of beats I enjoy in electronic music, and what is the meaning of it for me, and to an extend how I connect it with African folkloric sounds, Afro futuristic ideas, the Pygmy tribe, Atlantis, the streets…This is how I feel in my DJ skin at the moment and what I wanted to share.
The mix displays an incredible collection of sounds layered together, creating a journey that feels like liquid gold. Tell us about your track selection, where/how it was recorded, and the atmosphere of the mix.
Liquid Gold, that’s nice, thanks a lot. Well, sound layering has always been my favourite tool since I DJ, my mixing is very intuitive and have a collage aesthetic. Music is often like a picture to me.
When I get into the mixing zone, in my mind it’s also feels like a movie scene, a photo, a painting. Since I DJ professionally I haven’t put a lot of ‘DJ’ mixes out there, besides the multitude of radio shows I delivered since 7 years or so which tend to be different than a DJ mix.
I was wondering how people who never heard me play would appreciate what I do and how I play. For those who know me already maybe to feel the growth in my approach.
My intention for this selection was to deliver something from the now, my DJ instinct of the moment, it’s pretty raw, percussive, trippy, from the forest to the streets via an imaginary world or dimension you’d reach while listening to it.
I have no particular method for selecting. I can be quite chaotic I mostly look for a whole vibe or atmosphere according to my spirit at the time. I started to work on this mix at home on headphones early this year, listening to piles of stuff I put aside for this mix and then once I felt I had enough for my story, I carried on recording in the studio.
Between Paris and Berlin, during your formative years in music, what are some qualities that these cities and local environments have had on your musical preference?
Paris gave me the taste for live music, it’s my favourite city for concerts in term of energy and venues. Paris is dense and its multi cultural nature is a force and reaches out to all forms of culture. While growing up in Paris I felt nurtured by its vivid live scene.
My first music interest while growing up in Paris, I would say came from my Congolese father and its own collection of sounds, from Congolese Rumba to Free Jazz, New Jack,R&B, Bossa Nova, Soul and more…But also the Radio playing at home, has always and still have a crucial part of my musical education.
As a teen I had a deep love for Hip-Hop and Rap and Grunge and I think its the first genres I collected back then, as in making cassettes from radio shows, and buying CD’s, I was a teen in the 90s so that was also the way to go at the time.
Later on I connected with the alternative-underground scene, New Wave-Indie, Experimental got me curious, mostly because of people I met and hang out with, I came through electronic music this way I think. I reckon that the way I include live music in my nights also probably comes from this lifestyle.
When I arrived in Berlin about 12 years ago for the first time I was aware about certain codes of the city. I knew of its original music background and how vivid the nightlife is and the Techno scene is the pulse of the city in a way. To be fair I had no expectations, and no extreme fascination about it, I wanted a change of scenery in my life and there it was. I always have been a nightbird and being in bars or clubs at night was natural to me.
I educated myself without forcing it, like with other things I liked in life, it all came to me pretty organically. I quickly spotted a certain cult around Techno Culture and in some ways I found it a little bit over the top, disconnected from its primal roots, with a tragic lack of sense of fun and humour.
To me like for many it was simply nice to have this huge display of electronic music in its wider spectrum and wildest environment available at almost all times. Everyone knows that about Berlin. I am a dancer before a DJ and I think the freedom of Berlin dance floors highlights the fact that people in Berlin discover music that brings them together while dancing. That particular sound experience feels dominant in the music culture of the city and has its obvious beauty.
My preferences probably have roots in all of this for sure, some have evolved, and some remain the same since an early age.
"I am a dancer before a DJ and I think the freedom of Berlin dance floors highlights the fact that people in Berlin discover music that brings them together while dancing. That particular sound experience feels dominant in the music culture of the city and has its obvious beauty"
African Acid Is The Future has its cult following in Berlin now. Looking back to its initial event, did you envisage the party to continue for this amount of time and to be positioned and heralded to what it is now?
I don’t think anyone starts a party thinking about its life duration at first. To me it was absolutely not in my mind and I had no idea it would get a big attention and take to me to the next step of my life professionally.
I started this because I missed something in my life, my night life, a lack of representation of more sounds in a night, a certain way of hosting. I throw a night almost the same way I invite my friends over at home. I am so glad its still relevant for many and for new people too.
What has building African Acid Is The Future piece-by-piece taught you over the years?
It taught me how to become a DJ first and foremost haha! I mean it’s just the truth. I didn’t have a DJ set up at home available and only had access to a full one while going to DJ in bars or small venues, I came across CDJ’s on the first night I hosted, I really had little understanding of technicals when I started my night 8 years ago, but it didn’t seem like it was too difficult anyway. I knew I had a sound, an idea the support of my friends and team, an atmosphere I wanted to share, that I couldn’t find anywhere in a decade of riding parties and clubs in Berlin. So it taught me to trust in myself and go for it.
It taught me to do more with less, and to not expect or wish things to come easy. It’s incomparable how much you learn when you are challenged by less comfort. It taught me a lot of the notion of desire and frequency of feelings and needs of people and how to deal with this. How to be present or distant, available or not, open minded and essentially curious. It taught me that fun doesn’t last forever, but when it is here, make it last the best way you can.
To finish, it taught me how to exist in a dominant white male space with very little room for diasporic expression within the dance-club scene. When I started AAITF African beats and sounds weren’t “cool” to mix in like I hear it now. Loads of people and places from the scene didn’t show any real interest before they were told to do so.
We got ignored by many, loved by more. All these people following us for many years are the result of all this learning. My bookings and history of it is very talking of how the society and people leading the music industry dealt with this. I like to think that AAITF opened a door, a path at a right time, for a different way to gather people and for people like me to find their place in this ‘scene’ on its own humble level.
‘Because Africa is mother of beat, and beat is tempo. May your hearts beat on our tempo and steps groove with our flow.’ The quote taken from the bio of your record label shows true passion. Would you like to express more of your thoughts about the richness of the African beat?
It is just part of it you actually are quoting now… The full version shouldn’t be truncated cause all parts needs each other to make sense…
“From Afro to Techno, and a lot more in between.
Because Africa is mother of beat, and beat is tempo. May your hearts beat on our tempo and steps groove with our flow. On an acid trip around Afro rhythms, traveling from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Congo to Ghana, cruising on electronic sounds, cosmic rhythmics and psychedelic vibrations.
African acid is the future and…*-*
I wrote this mantra actually to illustrate the first night I throw back then in a punk bar called Herz in Neukölln. I am not a musicologist per se, so I wouldn’t go on and try to be too specific and risk to be vague.
I can share another quote that resonates with me about this :”All I hear behind all the human noise its the tam tam from Africa”…I can’t recall if I made up this sentence or if I heard from someone ahah, but it stayed with me very evocative of my mind towards the perception of music.
Beat is life, and I think we all have it within us you just have to connect to it. It’s hard for me to detach this concept to the idea of Techno for instance.
"I like to think that African Acid Is The Future opened a door, a path at a right time, for a different way to gather people and for people like me to find their place in this ‘scene’ on its own humble level."
When you were growing up, how did you discover new and non-commercial music?
I was born in the 80s, my father had records and cassettes, one of my best friend when I was a teen had turntables, records mostly hip-hop and ghetto house ( I didn’t know you called it that back then). I just naturally copy that environment and embrace it has a lifestyle I think.
Who or what inspired you to explore music further?
Exploring music is what I do, who I am. It’s hard to define who and why at a set time, it always changes I think, that is the beauty of it too. Different people, different learnings are on your path of inspiration. We are sponges.
I think music find its way to you very often, and then you get to pick, how wonderful isn’t it ? To be honest I enjoy to watch people dancing a lot, so I always been attracted by looking for the best tracks for it and try to have them dance as long as possible, even I wasn’t feeling like I was a DJ or thinking this is who I would maybe become.
I have had the privilege along all these years to invite some of my favourite artists and sometimes even record them. This gives me even more energy to dig for more. Im bathed in music I love I cherish this a lot.
You’ve been digging records for a long time, have you any go-to record stores for quality finds?
Its true and untrue I always loved records but it has never been an obsession; I for one thing didn’t have the financial resources to go crazy on buying records but also find it pretty elitist as a centre of interest. I adore the object as an aesthetic lover I do, but not the cult and speculation around it. Lots of the music I dig and want to collect is often very expensive unfortunately. I dig when traveling and always ask a local to guide me.
I mostly buy records that I feel will be essential to me for a lifetime, very little “club” music and lots of field recordings of worldwide folkloric music because its timeless to me. I like digging in Paris, a lot of what I am after is available there, Dizonord for instance and in Berlin lately Latitude has been serving me some real good wax.
How many records do you own and how do you feel about your current collection?
I own about 1500 records I think its not that crazy. I know them pretty much inside out, got rid of a bunch of dormant records I never really listened, used or even liked that much .
I stopped buying records during the pandemic and it took me a while to return to record stores. I don’t really order online anything so much so its been a long dry period but I found my groove again lately and starting to dig again slowly but surely I am content with what I have but I noticed I miss some actual classics.
Finally I have a better set up at home and it’s now more pleasant to get into the listening zone, I have plenty of rare or tool records but sometimes I wish I own more actual classics you know, but I am happy about my collection, it’s reliable and I feel the records are essential in my home.
Tell us about the first record shop you visited? Do you remember what you purchased and do you still own that record?
I don’t recall that much at all… it was probably me following a friend in Paris as a teen and I probably didn’t buy anything that time… I don’t really remember my own very first sorry to disappoint… I remember more of buying a bunch of records and start to feel like collecting in flea markets in France where I was collected other items so already as a teen. My father handed me the very first records I owned, Grace Jones, Sade, Stevie Wonder my very favourite artist. I still have those for sure.
You host a show called Comme À La Radio on Refuge Worldwide. How did your residency at Refuge Worldwide come about, and what makes it a special outpost for music in Berlin?
I have a show that is aired every 2 months on Refuge Worldwide since a year and a half I think, after 5 years of delivering shows almost every month on WWFM I was happy to switch to theirs and also return to non pre recorded shows.
Live radio is a very happy place for me, I don’t exist just as “DJ” performing there, I select music and fool around and I don’t deal with ego, which is relaxing. I found that Refuge is an amazingly fresh, joyful, professional yet human platform for artists in Berlin and worldwide, the angle of their project, the sense of unity and community is very authentic. I am proud and happy to work with them.
The past year they offered me to lead some DJ workshops and I guess I would have never tried such activity if they wouldn’t have offer. It really was very enriching experiences and I learned a lot about myself every time I did it. That is something I want to keep on doing. It keeps you sharp and humble. Being available to others is crucial in our world as we are constantly seeking attention.
When I started to express myself as a DJ there wasn’t such thing going on for debutants, I would have love to have a place dedicated for me to learn with other people on the same level, not worrying about being judged or not having access to gear simply.
I can also thank them to have been a constant support in my career in terms of bookings since before they even had a physical location. This year they also add me on their line up for a Berlin night, for what will be my most iconic gig to this date I guess…stay tuned for the big announcement haha.
Are you involved with any other projects this year?
This year I finally found the confidence to get my record label back on track. This will be the focus, it has been on a long hiatus even though in reality there was a lot of music experiences worldwide, In Japan, In Ivory Coast for instance. I’ve started to invite live bands again at our night and I hope to record enough to finish our trilogy of ‘Ambiance’ this year. Prior to this there will be the release of an EP before summer.
Later on, I am planning to work with a singer/composer and be on artistic direction/production of a record from A to Z together with Dauwd and see where this adventure takes us. It is in the very early steps so still keeping this vague.
I am launching this summer a line of garments in collaboration with the AAITF graphic designer mastermind Sepehr Mokhtarzadeh who has been working with us since 2021 and gave a whole new dimension in terms of visuals and identity which people seems to really remark and enjoy.
I started in Ivory Cost In Grand Bassam with local artisans and will carry on developing in Berlin with him and stylist Clea Jacob who will help me on the tailoring. It is a a short circuit and 100% organic handmade collection, inspired from Batik technics and uniforms/sets, about 80 pieces only will be available.
I wanted to create something unique that reflects AAITF spirit and that didn’t scream ‘merchandising’, hope people will enjoy it . There will also be another edition of a fanzine ‘AMBIANCE’ following up all this.
"Exploring music is what I do, who I am. It’s hard to define who and why at a set time, it always changes I think, that is the beauty of it too. Different people, different learnings are on your path of inspiration. We are sponges"
In terms of labels and artists – who do you recommend that we check out?
Mali-I, from London, I just love how uncompromised and geeky he is, not trying to fit a sound just for the sake of the scene, I love that at a young age, also an amazing DJ, deserves big light !
My favourite recent label is Psssh Records run by Dauwd, I know he is my partner, but it really is the most solid and exciting work for my taste out there, I really hope for it to take all the light it deserves.
Objet Trouvé I would recommend strongly synth wave experimental minimal independent label that also offers records as art pieces, one of a kind and very poetic.
In terms of label outside of the electronic music world I follow a lot Sahel Sounds, Ostinato Records, Analog Africa, for their consistency in presenting beautiful folkloric sounds and artists worldwide. There are so many more I am terrible at citing and listing anything honestly.
What do you love and what do you loathe?
I love swimming in the sea, eating delicious food, drinking good wine, listening to Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou on repeat, being with my friends and to see people dancing.
I leave loathing to haters, honestly I don’t carry this extreme energy in me. But if you ask hahah I do not like DJ streams but I also don’t loathe them, I dislike how it became a priority over just listening to a DJ. What I really can’t stand is intolerance and lack of humour.
Last question, what is the one thing you look forward to for African Acid Is The Future and yourself this year?
I look forward AAITF releasing some great music, and being able to share it in new places, meeting new people, create new dynamics. AAITF is a movement, it’s in perpetual motion. And for me it’s always the same peacefulness and creativity.
Limited edition cassette available from Inverted Audio Store.