Future tropical beats
iZem is a journeyman DJ, Producer, Radio Presenter and beat raconteur. Often writing music whilst crossing continents, the only place iZem allows dust to settle is in the heart, heat and rhythms of his local-global, analogue-digital, genre defying, future sounds.
A decade of nomadism recently made way for a settled period in Dublin, Ireland. During this hiatus from the road iZem released his first three E.Ps. and produced heralded remixes for Soundway, Far Out, Agogo, ZZK records, Wah Wah 45s, and Mais Um Discos. Packing up and setting off for the next destination is no new thing for iZem. This time though it’s different as ‘Hafa’, iZem’s debut L.P., is set to land in time for the next dawn of his phonic adventures.
‘Hafa ’ is a landscape littered with motifs of cosmopolitan experience, influences and collaborations. Concepts and theme’s that unify ‘Hafa’ were set in motion early on in the innovative French producer’s wandering path.
From working Parisian record stores in the late 90s, to recce adventures in foreign climbs, habits of inquisition and a drive to challenge his own assumptions opened up the doors of experience. Increasingly intrepid explorations further afield were accompanied by the arduous task of hauling a makeshift studio with him. Izem’s Basic recording, production and DJ gear left little room for comforts. With his guitar in toe even space for necessary clothing was in question.
The giant steps taken to work in youth radio overseas quickly led a route through the sounds of Latin America, Brazil and to chasing his roots back to North Africa. This was where iZem spent time in Café Hafa (the vivid backdrop for ‘Hafa’s’ chorus of dawns) and that led to a life-changing encounter with Gilberto Gil. In Café Hafa the inspirational story of Moroccan writer and traveler Hassan el Wazzan, added another stirring tone to the eclectic influences being shone over iZem’s horizon.
Café Hafa is at the door to the African continent in Tangier, Morocco. It has long been a cultural crossroads fuelling the imaginations of Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jean Genet, the Rolling Stones, Delacroix, Matisse and now iZem. Through a drive in creativity, across borders and with musical obsessions; iZem has confronted himself in the manner of his inspirations.
Arrival on the global, forward-thinking, artistically leftfield scene was predicted by Gilles Peterson, XLR8R, Okay Player and fellow tropical hed Quantic. iZem is an acronym for “In Ze Early Morning” and ‘Hafa’ evokes new days dawning in far off lands and those stirring the horizons of the present.
iZem captures the essence of the multi-cultural scene in Dublin, where much of the album was recorded. Like his passport ‘Hafa ” is brimming with soulful exoticism, personal narratives and adventurous players from global corners. ‘Hafa’ has been an experiment in taking on the Afro-centric sounds of his journey to date by incorporating modern, introspective songwriting and hybrid beats.
To curb the hungry wait for ‘Hafa’ you can catch iZem raising the dance floor temperature on one continent or another. If you aren’t hearing iZem’s pastiche sounds of future tropical rhythms, mutated bass and organic soul-grooves on stations such as BBC, KCRW, Funkhaus Europa, LDBK then make sure you are tuned into his regular radio shows on Groovalizacion and Le Mellotron.