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Interviews

Kitty Amor: talking Defected, Sondela and her year in music

We talk to the London-based DJ & label owner about her 2021, the rise of Afro House, return to live sets and her Sondela label

Kitty Amor has been making waves for a while now and this year was no exception.

Her all encompassing and eclectic sets takes in all manner of upbeat and energetic tunes and are always always rapturously received, with Afro house at the forefront of the music she plays, and in 2021, these have been showcased and hosted by the likes of Resident Advisor & Mixmag.

Following her set at The BACARDÍ Spiced x Defected Presents: D-RUM Sessions, we talked to Kitty to find all about how it went and her relationship with Defected as well as talking about the rise of African Electronic music, memorable sets, her Sondela label and musical partnership within Sef Kombo, plans for the new year and what tracks have been on constant rotation this year.

You have just participated in the final The BACARDÍ Spiced x Defected Presents: D-RUM Sessions. How did you become part of this project and can you tell us a bit about it? 

It was an honour to be selected as part of the BACARDÍ D-Rum Sessions. My involvement came through my relationship with Defected, in being an artist represented by the agency.

How did your set go on the night and what were the highlights for you?

I thoroughly enjoyed my set. I felt pretty nervous at first as I was the final DJ closing what had been an incredible series. It was important for me to best express myself and the music I love whilst taking everyone on a journey with me. A top highlight was when I played the famous piano loop from Mood II Swing ‘Can’t Get Away From You’ which is a classic Defected release. Mixing this with a classic Afro House hit from Black Coffee – We Are One (Culoe De Song Remix) was my way of showing my history in House music. 

How did your relationship with Defected Records start and are some of your favourite Defected releases? 

My relationship with Defected started earlier this year (2021) following my performance on the Mixmag Lab LDN and fronting the cover of Mixmag with Sondela’s Sef Kombo. I have so many favourite Defected releases but the classic releases from DJ Gregory, Karizma, Osunlade and Copyright will always get plays from me today. One of my top five favourites will always be Kings of Tomorrow ‘Finally’. 

What have been some of the most memorable sets you have played over the years and what made them special? 

I feel that most of my sets have some touching memories as it give me great joy to connect with people through my musical expression. One of my most memorable this year was Warm Up Festival as I played to a full crowd of people who had never heard my sound or my name. It was so beautiful to watch people enjoy such an uplifting and deeply rooted Afro House set. There were smiles, tears of joy and so much love that filled the stage. Another one was Element House in Nigeria as it was really touching to perform in one of my home countries. The crowd, venue and promoters were amazing. 

What tracks are you feeling the most at the moment? 

Currently enjoying Badbox & Vanco ft. Bobbi Fallon ‘Alive’, Jackson Brainwave ‘Furahini’ and AWEN & Enoo Napa ‘Redemption’

How does it feel to be back playing sets live in front of an audience after such a long hiatus?

It feels so good to be back. The live element of music has been a missing part of my life for 18 months and just to exchange energy with people on the dance floors means everything to me.

Can you tell us about the experience of your first set back and how it made you feel? 

My first set back was so emotional. I first played a back to back set with Sef Kombo and the love that was surrounding us was incredible. To uplift people and give them the feeling of freedom felt so special and reminded me of how powerful music is.

How did your recent Sondela Recordings night at Ministry Of Sound go and what were the highlights of the night?

Sondela at Ministry of Sound was a great night. It was a huge historic moment for the Afro House scene in London. The years of work that myself and Sef have been doing over the past 12-15 years, has led to this moment. To have major figureheads like Black Motion and DJEFF headlining alongside great South African talents, Kid Fonque and Vanco, play alongside Sef, Louie Dunmore, Badbox and myself meant a lot. 

Can you tell us about Sondela and what the ethos behind the label is? 

The label’s managed by A&R Managers Sef Kombo and Louie Dunmore and comes under the Defected family of labels. Both Sef and Louie curate the label’s output, with all profits going to Bridges For Music, a non-profit organisation based in South Africa – it’s all about using music as a force for positive change.

How did you and Sef Kombo meet and start working together? 

I met Sef Kombo in the early days of his well renowned London club night ‘ Til Two. I was in university when I first booked Sef to play at my own events in Nottingham. As we had the same level of passion and interest in African House music, we grew closer as friends. In growing our own careers as DJs, our close friendship developed into business partners as he joined me in heading up my event brand ‘Motherland’ and we have had a great working relationship that now spans over ten years. 

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What are your thoughts on the rise of African Electronic music that you are a huge part of? 

It is a very special time for African Electronic music as there has been an upward trajectory in the export of the sound on a global scale. We are now in a position where people are absorbing the music with a better understanding of its history. It is amazing to see the music be placed in iconic music venues across Europe and the Americas with reputable DJs and producers finally getting recognised for their contribution to the growth of the sound. I look forward to seeing many more years of the music rising to the top in being on national radio, syndicated on TV, taking space in award shows with more DJ, producers and artists reaping the rewards of their hard work.  

What artists would you recommend to check out at the moment? 

Karyendasoul, Vanco, Atmos Blaq, 104 BPM, Caiiro, Sio, Thakzin, Da Africa Deep, Thandi Draai, Benny T, Kususa, Lemon & Herb, Enoo Napa, Sun-El Musician – I would be here all day naming great artists/producers so just follow my Spotify playlist!

What are your music plans for the rest of the year and into the new year?

I am going on tour in South Africa with Sef Kombo where we will be playing in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Moving into 2022, there will be more live streams coming in addition to exciting gigs in the UK, Europe, Africa and hopefully South America. I am really looking forward to releasing my debut single which is a collaboration with DJ Thakzin from South Africa. 

What tracks have summed up 2021 for you and why? 

Mr Hands, Rude ft. Rhodalia Silvestre ‘African Train’ (Argento Dust remix) has been one of my favourite tracks this year. The energy behind the production and the powerful spoken word describing the history of the infamous destiny of many African mines’ workers. Other tracks that have summed up my year has been Sun-El Musician ft. Azana ‘Uhuru’ (104 BPM Interpretation), Benny T ‘Sub-Saharian Ghost’, Sio ‘Reverse Flight’ and Studio Apartment ft. Monique Bingham ’Sun Ra Was Right’ (Kususa Remix). 2021 has been a year full of great African Electronic music.  

What track never fails to put a smile on your face? 

Black Coffee ft. Bantu Soul ‘Even Though’, without a doubt. The lyrics of this song are so uplifting and when heard on a day when I am feeling low, this song most certainly puts me in a better headspace and has me feeling good. 

What have been some of your proudest moments in your music career so far?

Successfully running ‘Motherland’ and ‘Sessions’ for the last 5 years, being on the front cover feature of Mixmag with Sef Kombo, becoming a guest columnist for DJ Mag, performing in iconic music venues such as Printworks, Ministry of Sound and Drumsheds, travelling different parts of the world to give headline performances and being an artist represented by Defected Records.

 

Keep up to date with Kitty Amor and follow her on her socials; Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

and check out her label Sondela on Bandcamp here.

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