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[Music] An interview with: Wayne Snow

Introducing Nigeria born ice-cold groove king; Wayne Snow.

The Berlin-based vocalist and songwriter illuminates dance floors with dreamy soultronica melodies that speak to your soul. His Nigerian roots inspired his music through a love for Fela Kuti and Marvin Gaye, yet it's clear Wayne Snow was also gifted with a deeply moving appreciation for rhythm that will keep you sharp on your toes when you're jumping off escalators at 4 am.

Photography: Warren Ko

The debut album Freedom TV was a huge statement in 2017, now an iconic project, and Wayne Snow hasn't looked back since...

Already five years? It's crazy how fast time passes. I'm so busy with my future projects that the past seems too far away.

His first album since, FIGURINE has been a long-awaited addition to the discography of an artist many believe is one of the pioneering musicians in modern dance & groove music. The project is conceptually framed around the notion of identity and how we can get in touch with our authentic nature.

Humans have long hid behind masks, both literal and metaphorical. Awed and perplexed at the power and savagery of nature, our ancestors concocted exotic rituals and imaginary figurines, fierce and terrifying, to help face such demons. Characters to inhabit to help make sense of the world, and our place in it. Today, are we really so different? Wayne Snow doesn’t think so.

“We hide behind these figurines, and we let them dominate, who is the real you?”

Figurine, Snow’s stunning new album, explores this question in depth, contemplating modern-day relationships–with other people, with society, and with our true selves. But Snow seeks not definitive answers; rather, the record is reflective. Contemplative even, pondering what such things mean and how they shape our lives. We all choose what to show to the world. And what to hide. We send forth our digital avatars to dance through the world, to be who we are not, and do that which we can’t.

It is the voluntary commodification of the self for personal–and professional–gain, and to escape the monotony of everyday life. This is meant to rid us of sadness and alienation, yet simply drives us further into despair. It is what Erich Fromm termed the “mask of happiness”, a forced pretence of satisfaction lest we lose social capital. Behind the mask, he argued, is unrest and pain, forces so powerful we even lie to ourselves.

What then happens to relationships, wonders Snow? What then happens to love?

“We’re constantly running after an ideal, because we’re afraid to face reality. We’re afraid to see things for what they are.”

No wonder our very sense of self is falling apart–love can’t heal a relationship by itself. Covid-19 has further brought such issues into focus. Forced social isolation combined without modern-day hyperreality has turbocharged that sense of alienation; we have never been so disconnected. Even in the real world, masks and social distancing keep us apart as we scurry around seeking safety. And yet, there is hope. Stuck at home, many rediscovered a more real version of themselves; a grounded sense of self. Dissolving the imaginary self–the mask we all wear–is possible.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to escape death. We cannot deal with the idea of ourselves as dying beings. These masks we wear are our attempt to postpone the inevitable.”

Until we make peace with our own death, he argues, we cannot live. Figurine shows us how.

Fresh off of his recent A COLORS SHOW performance, we were grateful for the opportunity to ask Wayne Snow a few questions.

Where did you grow up and what was early life like?

I was born in Nigeria and spent part of my childhood in Warri, Delta State. There was constant music. It was quite natural to hear music everywhere. But the urge to produce sound myself started when my mother took me to Paris, France. Perhaps it was the need to fill the absence of sound that surrounded me during my childhood in Nigeria that I gradually began to write songs. What is certain is that this need has not left me since

Let's talk about Figurine. How long was the process of making this

album and what inspired it?

Between the visualization, the conception and finally the realization of the album it took me about 4 years. To be honest it doesn't seem that long. I had to rethink my way of working and adjust to a new rhythm. Figurine is in a way a much more visual album. It takes some time to mature this idea and to find a way to make the music visible.

What is your personal relationship with spirituality ?

I believe that there is something mystical in music that surpasses all understanding, something that connects us with all that exists. I really don't think we can ever explain it. It's just the way it is.

Favourite painters, artists, movies, books?

I feed myself a lot of poetry because it must be said that poetry is found everywhere, whether in Tarkovski's films, Ben Okri's novels, Gogol's short stories, Kandinsky's paintings, Gaudi's towers, all of which vibrate to the same tuning that is poetry.

'Nothing Wrong' is a phrase we repeat to ourselves all the time. Do you have any advice when it comes to staying positive?

I think you have to listen to yourself for that. I could give you advice but ultimately it's a story between you and yourself. I think we need to find more time for ourselves.

Could you tell us about your love for Berlin and the scene there ?

My love for Berlin comes from the simple fact that I have found a place where I can create without having to justify myself. The act of creating is enough in itself.

We view you as a completely unique artist, how important is it to you to channel originality, authenticity, and create new paths?

I never ask myself these questions when creating. I just do it and that's it. I let others comment and find what resonates with them.

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