FAKA is a subversive mixed-media art duo comprising Thato Ramaisa (Fela Gucci) and Buyani Duma (Desire Marea) who are fast making their mark in the digital realm. They recently dropped their much anticipated debut EP, Bottoms Revenge, a stunning offering of progressive electronic music with a raw edge, and according to FAKA, a collection of “Ancestral gqom gospel sounds. It’s a black raw delicacy. The language of our ancestors.”
For Fela and Desire, music making is a deeply devotional experience. “The EP is basically a year-long cleansing ritual documented through sound,” explains Desire. “A lot of our torment and triumph went into it, as well as all the other experiences that we could never express through any other medium. It was written spontaneously where it is written, but most of the lamentations, chants, and incantations were spur-of-the-moment occurrences that we recorded immediately on the spot.”
The two also chose to self-produce, and recorded all the songs at their home studios.
“We felt that was important because it is quite intrusive to have a third party witnessing the vulnerability of our sonic divination. It also gave us the space we needed to shape a true identity for ourselves as new artists, one that would hopefully serve as a point of reference that will guide future collaborations,” says Desire on their shared creative process.The body of work was released via NON — an avant-garde pan-diasporic collective of African artists who use sound as their primary medium to articulate and oppose oppressive structures in our society.
“NON is the most important movement in music right now. We are naturally aligned to them because we share the same greater purpose but also they provide the right support for independent artists who would otherwise struggle to carve their own space in an industry that is still largely homogenised,” explain FAKA.
The artists gain inspiration from their similar upbringings, with both kwaito and gospel being major influences on their sound. “We were both raised by very Christian grandmothers so our very first experience of music was gospel and that left a huge imprint on our vocal aesthetic, from the vibrato to the way we layer different scales to create a sound that nuances African choral music. We also grew up in the age of kwaito and we were really influenced by artists like Brenda Fassie, Lebo Mathosa, Bongo Maffin, Abashanti, Nestum and many others.”
Gqom is currently one of the duo’s biggest influences as well. For them, the genre is, “modern African spiritual music and it represents a progressive culture that is black at the core. Of course we are also inspired by our contemporaries locally and abroad, artists like Angel-Ho, Hlasko, Moro, Chino, nkisi, Bogosi, and many others inspire us with their challenging approach to music.”
Image of FAKA by Nick Widmer.