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Sudan Archives, eclectic nugget of the Pitchfork Music Festival

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La Gaîté lyrique, the Café de la Danse, the Black Ball… So many legendary concert halls taken over by the Pitchfork Music Festival, from November 14 to 21. On the program: rock, electro, rap, jazz, and various and varied nationalities. If for nine years it was at La Villette that we could come and listen to the new talents spotted by the American media, since 2021 the festival has taken a new direction, explains Julien Catala, director and founder of Super! Parisian event company which co-organizes the festival:

“The heart of Pitchfork is discovery, and we ended up with a format that no longer looked very much like us. There is this word “degrowth” which is fashionable, but for us, it was really the idea. Let’s stop always chasing after the headliners! We are going to make a smaller festival, but more interesting, because it corresponds more to the media. »

A single watchword therefore: discovery. It was on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 that the festival really took hold of this idea during the two “Avant-Garde” evenings organized in various rooms on 11e district, with the aim of highlighting emerging talents, such as Sudan Archives.

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Break out the fiddles (and the pole dance bars)

Blonde mullet, leather bodysuit and big silver chains, the most surprising thing about the singer Sudan Archives is not her look. At the Café de la Danse, the American raps, mixes, sings and, surprise!, pulls out a violin to accompany herself in front of a full house where initiates and the curious flock to listen to this unclassifiable artist, straight from Los Angeles.

With the release, last September, of her second album entitled “Natural Brown Prom Queen”, this woman who combines violin, soul and experimental electro has found a unique sound and an innovative aesthetic, which the single “Selfish Soul” illustrates. Perfectly. In the middle of her European tour, we spoke with her about the concerts, the stereotypes linked to the practice of her instrument and the difficulties of pole dancing.

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How did you experience the concert?

I was very impressed by the Parisian energy. So far I think it’s been the audience that’s been most receptive to the European tour, the energies were intense.

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Compared to the United States, how is your music received here?

Paris reminds me of New York. In the energy, the diversity of people, the architecture, the environment… The urbanity of the city.

Was it important for you to come and play at the Pitchfork Music Festival?

Yes. Because Pitchfork Magazine rated my album and gave it a 9 out of 10. You know who they gave a nine too? Beyonce ! It’s great to come here because it’s a place where I already know my music is appreciated.

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Precisely, there were expectations around your coming in relation to this note…

I say ! Everyone comes to me and tells me ” I did not expect that “and I think that’s in the good sense of the word.

Your concerts are impressive, you play the violin, sing, rap… Lots of things happen on stage.

I have fun. I love to play with the received ideas of the public. Because when people think of the violin, they think classical, when it’s not just that. The violin exists in many cultures, not just in Italy or the West. It’s rock’n’roll, it’s blues… There are so many ways to play it, it just depends on the person. Through my concerts, I show my different versions.

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In your music videos, as much as in concerts, aesthetics are very important. In “Selfish soul” for example, what was the idea?

The idea was me on a pole dance bar. I had told the director that I wanted it to be a celebration of women’s hair. There was a scene where I was playing the violin in nature and it was beautiful, peaceful… But I found it boring, so I said “put me on a pole dance bar!” ». That contrasts with the violin. And I wanted to do it backwards. But I didn’t know how to do that, so I had to learn in an hour.

While listening to your album, we noticed certain sounds similar to those of the singer MIA. Is this a lineage that you claim?

A lot of people compare me to MIA and Santigold. I believe this comparison exists because MIA’s music is hymnical, and mine is too. I love MIA and I’m sure she had some kind of influence on me, especially in the way she raps and sings, that’s something I do too.

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What were your inspirations when you wrote “Natural Brown Prom Queen”?

I wanted inspiration to come from home, from home. My mom’s from Detroit and my dad’s from Chicago, so I wanted to get the sound house music of Chicago and the techno side of Detroit. More generally, I wanted people to dance to house, techno… Funk too! Because I’m from Ohio and it’s the birthplace of funk. So I wanted to incorporate all those elements but keep the uniqueness of my sound.

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Are there also influences from Los Angeles, where you live?

What Los Angeles has influenced is the whole underground aspect of the electronic scene. At one point, everyone wanted to move to Los Angeles to go and play Low End Theory, which is a place where you could go and produce all kinds of sound. Moving there has helped me a lot professionally. This is where I became my own beatmaker.

Do you listen to French music?

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A little. I listen to Francis Bebey… And I love this singer, Bonnie Banane.

You have reached 3 million streams on “Selfish Soul” on Spotify. How do you manage this growing success?

I don’t feel famous. Because I don’t have a villa yet… The day I have land and a villa, then I’ll feel known!

Better than a villa, Pitchfork gave you a 9!

I say ! But it’s a gift as much as a curse, because now I’m like, “what can I do next time? »

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Speaking of next time, what can we expect for the next album?

I think the next album will be a dance music project. I have to put ten times the energy into it that there is in “Natural Brown Prom Queen”. It must be crazy.

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