Mina named her Kabala EP after the Sierra Leone town she partied in last New Year’s Eve.
Driven by a dark, bass-heavy pulse, the EP features traditional West African instruments like kele and bata, which Mina – tipped as one of our club producers to watch this year – picked up during her travels across the country.
Starting out as a DJ around 2012, the Londoner has been lighting up the Radar Radio airwaves for the past year on her Boko! Boko! show, spinning a selection of transatlantic dance, kwaito, kuduro, afrobeats and dancehall.
On the new EP, out today on Portuguese label Enchufada, ‘New Patan’ is a collaboration with Sierra Leona-based artist Sillati.
A member of WAYout, an organisation that works with vulnerable young people in capital city Freetown, Sillati turned in “a USB full of raw, hypnotic afrohouse-style beats” for the track.
“I’ve always been a bit obsessed with dancehall and it’s so much fun to dance to, so I started playing it at house parties in Leeds,” Mina told FACT. “I kept getting asked to play out more often, so I knew I must have been doing something right! Also I think I’m suited to the dancehall style of juggling tracks as my mixing is quite fast-paced.”
Mina first encountered afrobeats on a trip to Sierra Leone four years ago. “I remember so vividly getting into a taxi and the driver blasting a Timaya tune as we drove through the busy streets at night. I was captivated by the energy and the joyful rhythms and melodies, it’s infectious.”
She got into producing in 2014 and last year dropped ‘Tombura’, a collaboration with Lorenzo BITW, which was released on LA-based label Friends of Friends Music.
With Bjork having just this week spoken out against sexism in the music industry, what does Mina make of the gender gap? “I think it has a lot to do with visibility,” she says. “When I was starting out I didn’t know any other female producers and felt quite isolated. But recently I’ve connected with so many amazing producers and it’s been really inspiring.”
She has also been teaching production to girls, taking on a mentor-type role, but agrees that music production is still a “boys’ club”, as Bjork described it, “because boys are far more visible, are written about more and are booked more.”
“But if you look a little below the surface,” she adds, “there are plenty of talented women out there. My personal faves at the moment are Svani, Ballo, Adipop, Mapalma, Anz and Lil Tantrum. Book them, write about them and support them!”
Mina has another “dancehall-flavoured” EP due out later this year, so keep listening.