A great piece of news that is sure to please a good number of you: Plapla Pinky are playing at the Villette Sonique festival on Saturday 25th May at 7pm.…
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Hifana is an instrumental hip hop duo formed by KEIZOmachine! and Juicy. In his early twenties the former discovers hip hop music through a video showing New York DJ Clark Kent create a brand new track out of a turntable and two copies of the same record. He then absorbs into mastering turntables but soon grows tired of them after learning all there is to be learnt. Going back to the origins of his fascination with hip hop he becomes aware of a passion for rhythm dating from his childhood and thus starts learning percussions. Juicy's path is almost the exact opposite, having played percussions since a very early age and getting himself into turntables and rhythm machines only later.
They both start as members of Tribal Circus, a percussion unit supporting belly dance numbers. The band often perform during rave parties and develop some kind of a fun house aspect to its show, featuring skateboard tricks, juggling and didgeridoo (hand-made out of bamboo from the neighboring bush). From that time KEIZOmachine! and Juicy start using samplers (hip hop's iconic instrument Akai MPC 2000) to play sounds other than that of their limited collection of percussions, notably Indian tabla. After years of touring the duo faces the rest of the band's refusal to develop the show's absurd and slapstick feeling further on, and trusting that their MPC and turntable skills are enough to put on a show they go their own way and form Hifana.
Hifana comes from Okinawan dialect and means "southern wind", "southern flower". Limited by no other boundary than that of their imagination, they stuff their samplers with even more shamisen and South-East Asian instruments sounds. Unsatisfied with merely mimicrying American and European underground music, this aesthetic is for them the only way to produce a genuine Japanese batch of hip hop.
They first put out a scratch record, a 12" for DJs to use in between two songs or over another tune, filled with musical quotes (gamelan, yodel) and non-sensic skits recorded from movies and television. This record allows them to connect ties with Japanese MCs and producers, but their breakthrough only happens in 1998, rapidly gathering fame with unprecedented shows in hip hop history. Though making a heavy use of machines, KEIZOmachine! and Juicy never program their beats, hitting buttons live to recreate their tracks, not even losing the groove when casually switching seats in the middle of a song. They also play "real" percussions and turntables, adding cartoonish sound effects and lines all in perfect synch to animated films shown during the concert. The whole thing is at the same time extremely controlled and alive, powerful and funny.
© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure