Jokkoo Collective were brought together by the goal of bringing a new dimension to Barcelona’s nightlife. Founded by Baba Sy and Maguette Dieng (MBODJ) in 2017, the crew has now swelled to six members, with Oscar Tylor (Opoku), Nicolas Belliot (Mookie), Ismäel Ndiaey (B4mba) and Miriam Camara (TNTC) all involved. At raucous parties across the Catalan capital and beyond, they showcase the sounds of African and Afro-diasporic electronic music, as well as club sounds from Latin America and Asia, wanting to aid dance music’s evolution beyond the 4/4 format that’s popular in Europe and North America.
“We aim to bring new styles and genres of music,” says B4mba. “Barcelona really needs this, because it’s quite a cosmopolitan city, but the institutions are not really open to new music. Sometimes they just want something that can sell tickets.”
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Opoku calls them a “self-contained party machine”, referencing how they work together to curate and promote events which have shifted the dial in Barcelona. Their inclination for experimentation and non-Western club sounds has provided a space for like-minded artists and clubbers to come together, and helped this movement take root in the city. “People are more open to these kinds of genres now, and not only to house and reggaeton. It’s not something strange now,” says TNTC.
“It was a necessity for the people to be in those spaces, hearing those sounds, connecting through the music,” adds MBODJ. Now, as Baba Sy puts it, there’s a: “New generation, new sound, new energy.”
In late 2020 they launched their label arm with the ‘Jokkoo Mixtape’, an eight-track compilation of next-level club hybrids, featuring solo and collaborative tracks. As with many creators, the time afforded by lockdown enabled their sonic experiments to take shape. “2020 was the year we could have time to just sit and make music, since the clubs were closed and we had time on our hands; the positive side was that we could experiment with sound and try to develop that creative part,” notes MBODJ. Two more releases have followed, the dark and ominous ‘AGUARRAS’ by BLKM3TA (a collaboration between Mookie, Baba Sy, B4mba) and a three-track EP titled ‘TAM’ from Opoku and B4mba, featuring two solo cuts and one collab. More solo projects are coming, as well another compilation teased before the end of the year.
Jokkoo also recently travelled to Kenya for an artist residency with support from the Catalan cultural institution Institut Ramon Llull, where they began work on developing a new audio-visual live show which will be debuted at Sónar Festival‘s 30th anniversary edition. Travelling to Nairobi and to the coast, they found plenty of inspiration for their creativity, as well as linking up with local artists such as Coco Em. “They’re really advanced with technology there, doing crazy stuff with coding and music,” notes Mookie. “Africa is booming in terms of alternative, modern electronic music. They taught us a lot of stuff. We literally learned more stuff in two weeks in Kenya – about new technology in music – than a bunch of years in Barcelona. They’re very advanced and they want to connect.”
The details of the show are guarded for now, but Baba Sy promises it will be “very beautiful”. Sónar, a proponent of innovation in music with a history of showcasing new technology, feels like a fitting place for it. It’s also an exciting opportunity to evolve their artistry. “We are excited. But also, it’s going to be a test as well. We are a collective but are not a band. We are exploring this other style of working together: It’s going to be interesting. We hope afterwards we can continue,” says MBODJ.
On top of artist solidarity, there’s practical benefits to being a collective, such as easier access to public money to fund their social enterprises, which are they working on. Together, they feel empowered to achieve their goals. “We are stronger, we want to aim further, we want to connect more,” says Mookie. As they advance, dancefloors will be transformed in their wake.
Jokkoo Collective play Sónar Festival’s 30th anniversary edition, which takes place in Barcelona across June 15 to 17
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag’s Editor & Digital Director, follow him on Twitter
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Written by: Tim Hopkins