This is Introducing, where we shine some light on some of the best up and coming talent in dance music. This week we take a look at techno duo Black Girl / White Girl. From looking at their name alone it’s easy to see that the girls are all about breaking barriers, not only with their music, but in their daily lives as well. Fast paced, pumping, Detroit-inspired techno tracks are what you can expect from Black Girl/White Girl, a fitting style of music for the revolutionary mindset that they posses. They are also quickly gaining respect from some of the industries biggest names with releases on Maya Jane Coles’ HE.SHE.THEY, Skream’s Of Unsound Mind, and Eats Everything and Andres Campo’s EI8HT, a testament to the girls infectious creative output. We spoke to Black Girl/White Girl on their origins, inspirations, and staying motivated over the last year.
Firstly, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How did you guys meet? And what was it that spurred the creation of “Black Girl / White Girl?
Hey! We met back in 2012 around ADE in Amsterdam, and we haven’t spent more than a few weeks apart since. We felt an immediate bond and it wasn’t long before we decided we needed to make music together. A year later, Black Girl / White Girl was born. It all happened because of our mutual appreciation of house and techno, we also felt we could bring a unique perspective.
Residing from remarkably different backgrounds, how big of an influence have your different heritages had on you both artistically?
Karin: I am from a family of four children, and lucky for me, I am the youngest. I was fortunate to be exposed to a wide range of musical styles. Being the youngest has always allowed me to learn from my siblings and gain insight into other styles of music. I was exposed to many legends, such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and others. From Mizrahi music – an Israeli music genre created mostly by Jews of Mizrahi ancestry that combines elements from the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe – to pop, hip hop, and dance music
What I listened to from my parents’ side was often music from their culture (Morocco, Portugal, and Iraq) or from their earlier years. My father listened to whatever was popular at the time, while my mother mostly listened to Mizrahi music. Having said that, my siblings’ musical interests gave me a deep appreciation for music of all types. They made me aware of how powerful all types of music can be, and as a result, I’m more open to exploring new things – I never limit myself in my approach to creation. It’s all about doing what feels and sounds good.
Ty: Curaçao’s music is diverse, with several forms originating in Africa. Growing up there, what made the greatest of an impression on me was “Tumba,” a lively form of music that was largely heard around carnival season. As a child, I liked how expressive and joyous it was; it brought everyone together and made everyone want to get up and dance. Later on, I became fascinated with another sort of music known as “Muzik di Zumbi,” which is the secret music created by slaves using their self-made instruments. It was secret since the Dutch colonialist authority forbade slaves from making music, as they did with many other forms of entertainment. It was dubbed “Muzik di Zumbi” – roughly translated as “ghost music” – because the Dutch slave masters did not recognise its sound as “human,” but rather otherworldly.
When I was in uni I discovered the rhythmic music and dancing form known as “Tambù,” which was, you guessed it, another covert means for slaves to interact with one another. It was powerful music composed with a single drum, a raspy instrument called “heru,” and a female vocalist singing and chanting lyrics about topics like resistance, life, emotions, and society. The music was there to back the vocalisations, and that somehow really resonated deeply with me. Music was my ancestors’ way of protesting and fighting injustice, but also, ultimately, of persevering. About enjoying and celebrating life. This thought had a great impact on me as a kid, and it’s still a large part of what music means to me today. For me, a Black, queer woman, music is subversive. Now, it’s my way of making myself heard. With music, I want to make space not only for myself, but for every other minority in the world, so that we can all be free, true to ourselves, and prosper.
A few years ago, your sound was more house-oriented, but recently you have switched things up to techno. Why was it time for change?
We’ve always enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other, which is how our current sound developed. It’s a calculated move because we want to experiment and explore new ways of producing music, and to be frank, it’s been one of the main catalysts for our success. We’ve recently been inspired by techno, but also by themes tracing back to acid house, disco, electro, and rave. We are essentially on an endless voyage of exploration and learning, and it will always be reflected in our sound. We need to keep things fresh and moving. As a result, our sound today is considerably different from our sound in 2018, and our sound in 2024 will undoubtedly be extremely different as well.
How have you managed to stay motivated over the last year? What have you learned about yourselves during this time?
It’s been quite difficult; we’ve produced a lot of music in 2020, but we’ve also taken more time off than ever before. Just to be together, with family. To give our mind a break from the never cycle of releasing music, promoting music, creating new music, releasing more music, and so on. We’ve also spent a lot of time outdoors and in nature over the last year, considerably more than before the pandemic. It’s been a wonderful release. The most important takeaway is how little we kept track of our spiritual and mental wellbeing; we had a lot to catch up on. We started feeling and doing lots better as soon as we switched the “music to life” ratio from 80:20 to 20:80.
With the club scene now making a return, what’s next for BG/WG? Do you have any upcoming projects planned that you are able to share with us?
Yes, there will be a lot of new Black Girl / White Girl music released in 2021. We’re delivering HALLUCIN8, which is our second EP on EI8HT, this June 25th, and after that, we have an EP with Balkan Vinyl, which will also be available on wax. There will also be new music from us on Ben Sims’ label, as well as a mammoth EP dropping later this year on Warehouse Music. It’s all quite exciting. And, as the world emerges from the pandemic abyss, we can confirm that we will make a number of appearances across Europe later this year. But you’ll have to keep a lookout for specifics as they become available so you can catch us live.
You were recently featured in DJ Mag showcasing some of your favourite records. What is it that you look for when digging for music, and what made these tracks stand out?
Ty: When I’m looking for music or hear a track, rhythm is my immediate point of reference. Is it lively? Is it straightforward? Complex? Wonky? Detailed? I know it’s a winner when I want to jump up and dance or at the very least wiggle my butt. I’m always excited to hear new sounds and concepts. I’m not the biggest fan of vocals in tracks, so if there is one, it should be futuristic, weird, mysterious, or just rude, like in ghetto house. I dig it when organic percussion sounds appear in techno, and I really enjoy tracks that leave you wanting more. WTCHCRFT’s music is a great example of this. I prefer to support music from unknown or new artists over music from bigger labels and artists, any day.
Karin: One of my favorite activities is searching for new music, so I’m always excited to find new jams. In the last two years, I’ve found myself gravitating toward older tracks Because music is timeless. There is a lot of music out there, so when I’m choosing my tracks, I’m generally looking for music that stands out, anything with a hook, which may be anything from a lyric or a melodic phrase that will make the track memorable. I believe it is my responsibility to introduce our fans to new artists whose music is unlikely to chart or receive a lot of airplay.
If you could produce a track with any artist past or present who would it be and why?
This is the most difficult question ever since we are so focused on our personal perception of music. So, let’s talk about vocalists. Perhaps Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, or, for more contemporary icons, Grace Jones or Alicia Keys. Can you imagine it? That would be totally out of this world!
You can buy the new EP from the girls here.