At this Friday’s Late at Tate, MogaDisco, will be kicking off the fun outside setting up the vibes and showcasing the best of Soukous, Hi-life, Afrobeat, Jùjú and everything in between. Bossa from MogaDisco takes some time out ahead of Friday’s performance to talk to Laura Ghany about his musical influences and the MogaDisco ethos.

  • Moga stamp, lying on its side

    © Kaspar Loftin

Hey there! First and foremost, what is MogaDisco?

MogaDisco is four passionate and knowledgeable music lovers. It consists of myself Iyobosa, Kaspar, Jack and Folayemi.

How did the night come about where did the name MogaDisco come from?

I still remember the first proper chat we had about starting an event that played exclusively African music. It was at that point I gave Kaspar a Sir Victor Uwaifo CD and he loved it. This was back in 2011. Back then we were going under the guise of ‘Jùjú Music’. It was an instant success.

When we moved back to London we recruited the missing piece of our puzzle - Yemi and Kaspar came up with the name MogaDisco which is a play on the Somali capital Mogadishu. I loved it as soon as I heard it as I wasn’t the biggest fan of ‘Jùjú Music’- even though it was a Sunny Ade reference, the word Juju has negative connotations in my native language, so it wasn’t ideal!

When I first went to one of your nights it was clear that what you guys were doing was very unique. What can someone who has never been to MogaDisco expect?

I only listened to the kind of music we play at Moga at home or at parties I used to go to when I was a child with my parents. This kind of music is quite slept on. Slept on in the sense that there are so many unearthed, talented musicians from Africa from the 1960s-80s that get relatively no mention.

Obviously the more famous stars such as King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, Ebo Taylor, Hugh Masekela and so on are rightly revered. However, from a musical perspective there is certainly a plethora of unheard, unknown talent and we are showcasing that.

You’ve said before that looking for records was like ‘mining for gems’. There is an ‘All Vinyl Oga Mini Series’ available to listen to on the website, how important are vinyls in this day and age?

The nature of collecting music in the way we do means that we are going back in time to a period where music was only on vinyl. Therefore it’s crucial for what we do to find old quality vinyl records. Although vinyls are important, no question, I’d like to stress that it is not the only format we collect.

Great music comes in every format, some of the best tunes I have played have been because I am up well into the early hours on iTunes. The Oga mix was special for me to record because I used vinyls I own and combined it with my dad’s, so from a sentimental perspective it was nice, but at a typical night we play vinyl and CDs simultaneously so the good people that come down can enjoy the full flavour of our tunes.

What music did you grow up listening to? And what other genres of music are you into?

I count myself lucky in the sense that music was always been played in my house and both my parents love music. You could hear anything from Fleetwood Mac to Fela, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Marvin Gaye and so much more. I feel this has created a solid foundation for me to be open-minded when listening to new music.

I love all good music, but hip-hop will always be special because when one understands the mechanics behind hip-hop, the innovative qualities that created it, looping beat breaks, turntablism, sampling, intense and competitive record collecting, you understand that this was all done from people in relative poverty. It resonates with me in a way that no other music can compare to. Moreover a lot of the values in early hip hop culture are synonymous with what we do and stand for with Moga, so there is certainly a connection.

The theme for this June’s Late At Tate is: Inhabit. Do you feel that music is a space where you can explore your cultural identity and share that journey with others? Discuss…

Excellent question. I certainly do. I believe that music sends signals to the mind, body and soul and when I’m listening to some of the lesser known artists who hail from where my parents are from (Benin City, Nigeria) there is certainly a connection. It’s difficult to convey with words because the feeling is certainly physical.

My mum told me the meaning of a song that I love playing at Moga and it was a simple message. I loved the song before and I love even more now that I understand the meaning and the message behind it. This music helps to explore my cultural heritage, which is very special.

Are you looking forward to playing at Tate Britain? How do you feel about playing in an art gallery as opposed to a club?

I speak for all of us when I say we can’t wait.

It’s always nice to play in front of new people and we hope people will enjoy it. Playing in the early evening in an art gallery will grant us a license to showcase some of the less dance-oriented tunes that you would normally hear at our club events. It will allow us to play some of the more mellow yet equally as compelling tunes that we have.

It is always nice to play, whatever the situation, and we are grateful for the opportunity. We hope you enjoy.

Catch Bossa and the rest of MogaDisco on Friday 6 June 2014, 18.00 – 19.00.

This event is a collaboration between University of the Arts London and Tate Britain.