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September Digital Cover: Dankie Sounds

Meet Tunde, Jimmy, Sama and Kaz, the four masterminds behind the events collective spearheading Amapiano and African dance music in the UK. With a connection founded on a shared love of house music, African roots, and event planning, the Dankie Sounds founders have taken their vision globally. Since their first event attended by 130 people in London, they’ve sold thousands of tickets, graced several UK festival stages and even thrown parties on the African continent. Dankie Sounds is a testament to the chemistry shared between the four, fuelled by a passion for house music, and a desire to place a spotlight on Africa’s contribution to the genre, inspired by their own heritage.

Despite suddenly bursting on to the UK event scene in 2021, Dankie Sounds didn’t happen overnight. It is the culmination of over 10 years of experience in events, lessons learned, work put in during the pandemic lockdown, and the execution of a clear vision between friends and colleagues. Similar to other cultural heavyweights like No Signal and DLT, social media is at the heart of the Dankie Sounds story. The four entrepreneurs joined forces after Sama spotted a poster on Jimmy’s Snapchat story promoting a Dankie Sounds prototype. As recounted by Tunde, it was “one phone call, one venue visit and the rest is history”.

Dankie Sounds came at a crucial point. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown devastated London nightlife. Many businesses were forced to close indefinitely, further adding to the already challenging time for many communities facing the mental, as well as physical toll of the pandemic. When the lockdown lifted, people were ready to get back out there to socialise and enjoy the nightlife they had missed. At the same time, the buzz around Amapiano was reaching a fever pitch, so when lockdown was lifted, Dankie Sounds were able to meet consumers where they were at, satisfying their demand for a re-energized party scene, and for Amapiano.

Their first event at Near and Far in Camden, was attended by 130 people. Despite the relatively small size of the event, compared to university raves they threw previously, the founders describe a euphoric energy captured in the motive. The event had an impact that had not been felt prior, on both the founders and partygoers, which let everyone involved know that this was the beginning of something special. A key part of this was the way Black Londoners embraced Amapiano and Afro-house. London’s Black diaspora is overwhelmingly made up of people of Nigerian and Jamaican heritage, which is reflected in the dominance of Afrobeats and Dancehall in the events scene. With Amapiano and Afro-house originating in South Africa, personal ties to the roots of the genre are not as strong, but they soon found that Londoners couldn’t resist the log-drum beats, infectious melodies and smooth dance moves of Amapiano.

The collective believes that the success of the genre with London audiences is down to the fact that Amapiano music encapsulates the emotions and feelings that came about following our emergence from lockdown; a renewed lust for life. The music makes you want to get out there, dance and have fun. According to Kaz, “It brings together people from all different walks of life with the common aim of having a good time.”

“Amapiano music encapsulates the emotions and feelings that came about following our emergence from lockdown; a renewed lust for life.”

Whilst Tunde, Jimmy, Sama and Kaz are at the core of Dankie Sounds’ inception, over time other characters have come into play to make Dankie Sounds the unforgettable experience we know and love. From hosts Terminal 4 and BernitaZM, the MCs who energise the crowd and keep the atmosphere buzzing the entire event, to the House of Piano dancers, displaying the skill and mastery of their choreography to the hottest Amapiano tunes. Not forgetting the instrumentalists, who add the crucial live music element that sets Dankie Sounds apart from its counterparts. In Sama’s word’s “People don’t come to Dankie just to party, they’re watching a live performance.” Key to this ensemble are the DJs that grace the Dankie Sounds stage. Regulars like DJ Morgan Black, L.A.J and Nicky Summers spin the best of amapiano and african dance music, with masterful mixing to include staples sounds of the London club scene like afrobeats, RnB and dancehall. These are some of the people that make up the DMF, or Dankie Mafia Family, affectionately coined by Sama.

The rise of Amapiano globally has played an important part in deconstructing false narratives around Black people, their association with, and connection to, dance/ house music. Despite a long history of evidence to the contrary, younger Black millennials and Gen Z’s in the UK have grown up with the notion that dance/house music is not for us. The emergence of Amapiano in the UK club scene has called that notion into question for a lot of people, as the links between Black & African music culture and house music become more obvious. Many classic house/dance tunes use the voices of Black women, or sample songs created by Black people. The most prolific example of this being ‘Show Me Love’ by singer Robin S., remixed by Swedish duo StoneBridge and becoming one of the world’s biggest house anthems, with little recognition (until recently) of the Black singer at the heart of the song. For some, Amapiano acts as a ‘gateway drug’ to discovering other dance genres with a heavy African influence, such as Gqom & Deep House - also pioneered in South Africa. Whether or not it was by design, Dankie Sounds is helping to bring back dance music into the hands of young Black people in the UK, whilst reinforcing a sense of pride in their roots.

In Tunde’s words, each Dankie member is a ‘house head’. Their love for House and EDM has been fuelled by multiple trips to Ibiza, the dance capital of the world. So, holding the first Dankie Sounds Festival in Ibiza was a no-brainer. The importance of Ibiza to EDM cannot be overstated, so it only made sense for an Amapiano/Afro-house festival to be held there, platforming the EDM music coming out of Africa to a wider audience. It's also a chance to highlight some of the parallels between the two worlds, allowing more people to connect. Similarly to European dance music, the DJs are the artists, core innovators and drivers of their sound in a way that doesn’t exist in other genres. Thousands are set to descend on Ibiza from 15th - 17th September for the first edition of Dankie Sounds Ibiza. In addition to a takeover of the iconic Ibiza Rocks Hotel, partygoers can expect beachside parties and stellar performances from the likes of Amapiano stars: Felo Le Tee, Vigro Deep and Justin 99 & Pcee.

Looking beyond Ibiza, the Dankie Sounds juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. Not limiting themselves to their own events, Dankie Sounds has graced festivals such as Stormzy’s This Is What We Mean Day, and DLT Malta. They even have a booking form on their site to play at weddings and other private functions.

Beyond events, Dankie Sounds Music is another new venture the team has started to develop. They recently released an Amapiano remix of J Hus & Drake’s summer smash hit ‘Who Told You’ revealed that they have over 30 unreleased tracks worked on over the last year. But timing is everything, and this team has no intention of rushing the process. Though not without its challenges, it is a process they have approached with the same carefree, fun-loving attitude as the rest of their work. For the boys, this is a natural evolution from the Dankie Sounds party experience. Where normally partygoers would leave a Dankie Sounds party with a light up bracelet, glow stick or LED fan, soon they’ll be able to leave with a new favourite Dankie Sounds song too.


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