Kuduro is a genre on the move. Originating in Angola, the fast paced dance music has captured hearts and feet for decades with an energetic mix of soca, calypso, techno, hip hop, punk and house. If you believe Kuduro pioneer Tony Amado, the whole genre owes a big debt of gratitude to Jean Claude Van Damme and his inspirational Kickboxer styles as well. You may have already heard its influence on artists like M.I.A. and Buraka Som Sistema, but it's time to get to know upcoming kuduro innovator Nidia Minaj. Born in Portugal and currently based in Bordeaux, 17 year old Nidia is a dynamic artist bringing fresh ideas and vitality to the evolving scene. Brother Sister Records discovered some of Nidia's early work via a file link hidden in the description of a YouTube clip, and are proud to bring her official solo debut to the world, Estudio da Mana. Each track explodes with synths, samples, beats and Nidia's boundless creativity. There's also remixes from leading Australian producers Air Max '97 and Unsoundbwoy. THUMP is pleased to share a preview of three originals, and an interview with Nidia herself about the release.
THUMP: What were your earliest musical experiences, and what first drew you to kuduro and music making?
My first musical experiences were on the steps of my ghetto, Vale de Amoreira, Portugal, as a kuduro singer with my old peers. I also sang a lot at little parties that took place in the ghetto.
Early on I was part of a group called Kaninas Squad, a band of little girls who liked dancing to kuduro and similar styles. The project started at our school. Kaninas Squad was everything for me, words don't exist to describe how important it was for me. We had many arguments, I was never in agreement with the other band members, so we argued a lot. I remember that we had rehearsals at my place and when we played a show we always met at my place. We made three original pieces, but only ever launched two of them. The two were very successful. I often drove myself crazy trying to get my band members into the recording studio.
And from there you started moving into work on your own solo material?
I used to work a lot on DJ projects but I never dared share them with anyone, I always hid a little bit on the sidelines. One day I had the courage to show my music to DJ Dadifox … He liked it and sent me some samples and told me to keep going, to put my tracks on the internet and to follow his advice … I now say that he is my papa because he helps me and teaches me a lot about how to use the recording software FL Studio (Fruity Loops) … It was difficult because he explained everything online via messenger … But I have progressed … Advance, advance, I never go backwards …
What's your experience of the shifting kuduro scene, and your interactions with other likeminded artists?
In this "project" or scene, I feel very privileged because I am the only girl. I know some DJs making this music personally and others only virtually (through the internet). I consider them to be contacts or acquaintances rather than best friends, and I collaborate with different DJs by exchanging zip files containing a work in progress, adding parts to tracks and sending them back. I'm not sure if all of the DJs in this scene are teenagers because I don't know them all that well, but definitely some of them are.
Kudoro is so interesting because it draws on many genres, but creates a pretty direct and unique dance style. What are some of the sounds you're listening to for inspiration?
Generally I listen to a lot of African music – coupé-décalé, azonto, kuduro, afro-house, and also Portuguese rap, like Força Suprema and Ghetto-Stars (from Cape Verde). I also listen to a lot of calm music, classic rap, kizomba, R&B. I think I listen to a little bit of everything.
Can you take us through some of your newest tracks on Estudio da Mana?
The track on Estudio da Mana that I like the most is "Ya Foye" which means "nothing" or "it's nothing" in Ivoirian. I just want people to understand that this is nothing, and that I can do even better than this.
The second track the I like is "V.A.G.G". "V.A" stands for my ghetto (V for Vale, A for Amoreira). Then "G" for Ghetto and "G" for Gang, because it's my ghetto and my gang. I was always told not to forget where I come from.
I also like the "Intro" to the album. I express my life through these beats. It's my life. I ask only that people believe in me and listen to the album.
_Hear more from Nidia Minaj when _Estudio da Mana is released on Brother Sister Records, August 1__