Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Black Dylan: Great Danes!

Black Dylan
Black Dylan Black Dylan Black Dylan Black Dylan

When was the last time you went to see an authentic 60’s/70’s funkified Soul act from Denmark, in the UK? OK, let me make it slightly easier… When was the last time you went to see any kind of Soul act from Denmark in the UK? Yep, me too! So when I got the call to see if I wanted to check out new Danish Soul duo, Black Dylan, which just happen to be comprised of multi-platinum / gold-selling recording artist and a certain super producer, you guessed it, I jumped at the chance.

I first saw the dynamic duo perform in Copenhagen at the impressively cavernous DR Koncerthuset building…Black Dylan sold out a studio type space within the complex - it probably held around 500, but it felt like a lot more due the exuberant manner of those attending and it was quite hot in there… I could see the appeal of these guys right away, that night there was a dozen of them up on stage - with horns and everything. I also remember the audience knew almost all the words to the songs - full credit to the catchy lyrics and clever writing - even though the album had only just literally just come out. Job done that evening, I was to interview the guys another day… I met an enthralling, jovial and candidly talkative Wafande, who’s quick to fill me in on the graft he had to put in during his rise to prominence “Things took off when I was around 27 years old…I pretty much played in everything and everywhere possible in Copenhagen, even before I got a record deal. I was trying to run around in all the Hip-Hop jam sessions - all the places where I could sneak in and maybe do the intro or whatever, I literally played ‘everywhere’ in Copenhagen.”

To describe the charismatic frontman in more detail… He’s tall (and I mean tall!), the 33-year-old singer / songwriter Pierre Jolivel Zahor, was a one-time French national youth basketball player (did I mention he was tall?). These days he’s better known in Denmark as simply, Wafande, and a lot better known to his legions of devoted fans, up-until-recently, as a very successful singer who draws his vibes from a reggae and dancehall fusion - a refreshing to the point wordsmith who, shall we say, always looks for the positives when life throws the proverbial curveball.

Unforeseen at the time, it was Wafande’s time spent in France some years earlier, between the ages of 8 and 18 “I think all in all I've been maybe 10 years in France” and his affinity with an area of France music that would prove to be key to unlocking vital doors in his music career. In fact, it all came down to a meeting of chance with his now partner in rhyme, seriously talented producer / keyboardist / Soul, Funk, Jazz DJ, Mikkel Andreas “Nuplex” Thomsen - who is known by the uber cool handle, Nuplex - taken from Brian Bennet’s 1976 track of the same name. Wafande takes up the story of the story “18, 19 that's when it all started…but I was around 19, 20… 20 years old or something when I met Nuplex - I had a friend, another rapper, who knew this guy who had a studio and he wanted to bring me there because we wanted to do a song together. So I came up and the first time I said hello to Nuplex - we totally bonded, a brotherhood from day one. Nuplex never saw that rapper again, neither did I (laughs). Nuplex and I then went to the studio for maybe 6 years together from that day on.” Nuplex adds proudly “it was the way we just bonded, then I also heard that Wafande had French language and I loved French Hip-Hop at this time. I was like, ‘I really wanna do some French Hip-Hop - they’ve got the sounds and the beats’. The first song we did together was a French Hip-Hop track called “Le Clér” (“The Keys”)“. Nuplex continues, “already at this time I was very inspired by recording other sounds than just media… the snare drums, for example, that was a mailbox. The hi-hat was keys in my hand and the bass drum was me kicking the floor at the same time saying “oof” in another microphone… I love being creative with the sounds.”

It was the combination of the spirit he had from growing up in the autonomous area of Christiania in Denmark, mixed with suddenly dropping the French style of Hip-Hop for a more simplistic Danish no-nonsense style which suited Wafande’s personality and outlook on life - this married with his tell it like it is lyrics, suddenly saw the artists’ career propel upwards at a rate of knots. Wafande remembers what felt like to be in the right place at the right time, “It definitely started with the Danish scene. We tried over so many years to do it in French and in English…we wouldn't feel that we ready but we spent a lot of time making tracks, doing tracks, getting better, certainly in the studio and really, really going into the depths of the music. We weren’t really that worried about going to the labels and pushing it and doing that because I think we thought that we were just going to get discovered.” Wafande adds to his thoughts on the Danish music scene, “it felt like, when I released my first Danish single, it really filled a void in the Danish music industry that people had been missing a lot. I think, you know, the honest talk when I sing Danish is very direct and it's very based on us all being here together and not being worried about culture and delusion and all that stuff… I think that people needed someone to speak with a positive voice instead of gangster Hip-Hop and depressing music, you know? So, I think that's what pretty much broke me here… People really needed positive change - it was very obvious, my career exploded from that first release we had. It didn't matter if you were 3 years old or if you are 52 - we have a really wide range of fans. They needed to smile here…we took Denmark with a smile!”

The album "Hey Stranger" and single "Get Up Child" are out through Black Dylan Records.

You can read more from our interview with uber cool soul vikings, Black Dylan, including frontman Wafande's memories of growing up in the creative hive of Denmark's Christiania and the duo's views of genre hopping and how to achieve it successfully - all this and more in the current issue of Blues & Soul Magazine - click the link below to order straight from our shop or read on for high street retailer details.

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