This morning we welcome Stefan Christoff to select three groovy Sunday morning tunes with us on MailTape.
Stefan Christoff is a musician, journalist and activist living in Montréal. He is a founding member of the Howl! arts collective and also hosts Free City Radio on CKUT FM, a weekly program exploring local and global struggles for social justice from an artistic perspective. Stefan has also released many albums of music, including two piano/oud duet albums with Sam Shalabi.
Stefan Christoff’s selection
Nyathela ft. Luqua – TNS
Stefan Christoff: “Over the past year I have been listening to new tracks from South Africa. Working at Casa del Popolo, as a bartender, before the pandemic closures, I was lucky to be able to invite local DJs to share music sets in the bar/café side of the space. DJ Mdubulo often was playing tracks from Africa, heard some great music during those sets here in Montréal. Also in the past weeks a close friend, scholar Aziz Choudry, has been preparing to move to South Africa, so we have been talking about music and resistance in South Africa, over generations. Aziz has been sharing some tracks and it pushed me to listen to more works. I came across this track online and I love the movement, motivation vibe, something needed on a Montréal winter morning.“
DEMO FEST – Into the Night
Stefan Christoff: “A track released recently by DEMO FEST a project that Gustavo Rodriguez has been working on to bring together local musicians to support the Status For All movement and specifically to raise funds for Solidarity Across Borders, which is a local network of community activists directly supporting non-status people and also pushing the Quebec and Canadian states for a situation of legal equality, where everyone has the same rights, a society where non-status people don’t face exploitation and systemic oppression. Gustavo worked on this track with a friend that recently passed away, which was released as part of the DEMO FEST label/project mentioned, so I was moved and thought to share the piece, Gustavo writes: “Rosie and I wrote this song a couple of weeks before she passed away. It was my first attempt to make music with synths and, as always, she was very supportive. She was excited to sing cause she wanted (in her own words) “to make people smile and dance!” and “to write songs about being happy and sad and dancing and crushes”. This is the only song in this project and the last music collaboration we did together. Her vocals are a first take which she did spontaneously in front of her computer, or phone, to see if we both liked it. We were supposed to record it properly later along with other songs.“
Thomas Mapfumo – Haruna from ‘Spirits To Bite Our Ears: The Singles Collection 1977–1986’
Stefan Christoff: “I remember first hearing about Thomas Mapfumo in detail while listening to CKUT 90.3fm community radio in Montréal, the station where I have hosted a community radio show since 2001. Mapfumo visited the city on a couple occasions to participate in Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, an awesome project that creates space for international artists to represent in the city, particularly artists from Africa. Mapfumo was so deeply linked to struggles for anti-colonial liberation, in Zimbabwe and throughout Southern Africa, that really connected and the music has this incredible motion and force. Also poet Kaie Kellough, a friend and collaborator, has spoken about Mapfumo over the years. Also in recent years Parker Mah, Rhythm & Hues, also had sent some tracks by Mapfumo, we had been in exchange around creating sets for broadcast on CKUT and also around town for various struggles, including the struggle of Guinean asylum seekers in the city who are facing deportation, this is a mix that Parker worked on toward this.“
MailTape’s selection (with some Stefan…)
Sam Shalabi & Stefan Christoff – Elephantine
Stefan Christoff: “Sharing this oud/piano duet with Sam Shalabi, which we recorded at La Sala Rossa concert hall in the morning, we worked with some friends to set-up a recording situation and worked on releasing this track on the album Flying Street on a community level, it is out on vinyl. I remember the conversations with Sam around this piece, the musical scales are rooted in Nubian music and I loved playing the same note in two octaves, along to the driving melody of the oud, two notes striking accents on the piano while the oud plays. Sam is a great person, I feel lucky to have gotten to know Sam and to have collaborated over the years. Our collaborations first were really driven within the context of a series of local concerts we worked on in the city to support Palestinian human rights and the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It has taken time but at the grassroots level, within artistic networks and amongst cultural workers, there is growing support for the BDS movement, as rooted in the example of the way that sanctions and boycotts did help the liberation struggle against apartheid in South Africa. On a personal level I have learned so much from Sam, both musically and also personally, just how to sustain a meaningful, honest and chill presence in a difficult world, thank you Sam.“
Murcof – Underwater Lament
Sanjay: “Girona-based producer and composer Fernando Corona, also known as Murcof, has announced his first release—’The Alias Sessions’, a collaboration with Brazilian choreographer Guilherme Botelho—on the Leaf label since 2016. More abstract than many of his previous works, I love the diaphanous atmosphere in this track, incorporating exquisite sound design with ghostly samples and non-tonal sounds. Check out the choreography on the music video.“
Sibusile Xaba – Wampona
Sanjay: “Sibusile Xaba’s music has been on regular rotation since I first came across his work in the wet summer of 2017. Like the great Philip Tabane, Sibusile mixes fragmented lines with repeated phrases over Thabang Tabane’s drums. Accompanied by his vocal style that is part-dreamscaping and part ancestral invocation. If you’ve got even more time on your hands, listen to Sibusile’s MailTape episode from August 2017.“
Talvin Singh & Niladri Kumar – Ananta
Sanjay: “A beautifully lilting piece from Talvin Singh and Niladri Kumar’s album, Together, which I now find difficult to believe was released almost a decade ago! Niladri’s sprightly sitar melodies emerge from Talvin’s exhilarating tabla percussion, before being delectably spliced and diced in post-production.“
That’s it for this morning. As always, thank you so much for joining us. Much love to Stefan Christoff for his generous Sunday selections and to Jason Pridham for this episode’s brilliant illustration, based on a photograph by Nick Schofield.