I met these girls in 2016 when we came to Uganda for NyegeNyege Festival. Ever since we stayed in touch and became close friends. At that time I didnt realize how deep their love for music, arts, culture and their motherland Africa rooted. Bit by bit I experienced how they evolved in music with a drive i rarely see in people nowadays. Before we hit you with Music check out this stunning Interview (All Pictures by William Kane):
1. Hoden tell us a few things about Hibo
First thing first is my twin sister: she is super kind and annoying (because we are siblings it comes with the job). Hibo as an artist is multidimensional and she works in film, designing clothes, producing and also djing. Oh and she has an outstanding sense in fashion. You will never see her with out these three items: Lipstick eyeliner and perfume.
2. Hibo please do the same for Hoden
Hoden is my twin sister, One of the uniquest people you will ever meet. some times you will be lucky to get a glimpse of her. She can disappear in plain sight. Her stage name is Houdini and she plays such diverse music that no one would dare to play. Hoden is a true magician not only is she good at the disappearing act , she will also take you far and beyond your imagination. She doesn’t just play music, she reaches down to your soul and bones. Many people want to be seen, she wants to make people not just hear music but actually listen and feel it.
Her strong sense of rebellion, and I am not here to please or pretend to be somebody else, makes me proud. From a young age till now she has always been a composed and well collected person. Sometimes i think she is an evil genius if you do her harm. She won’t fight you in a negative way, she will just say two words to make you think. And you will punish yourself.
I find that hilarious and powerful at the same time. Hoden always stands up for anybody who is abused or discriminated. In her silence there is a strong voice too.
Her fashion-sense is norm core. She has the biggest star wars t-shirt collection i have ever seen. You will always catch her wearing one. Its not loud but you can’t help but notice: damn she is super cool – true definition of nerd is sexy.
3. How would u describe your musical universe?
Music is infinite! I remember thinking to myself as a kid I don’t want to believe in a deity that deems music as a sin or evil ruining our soul. So it started out as a way to connect to the universe: Music for meditation, music for healing, music for letting go and music for everything. My musical universe is in an existential crisis right now cause of two reasons: First I know I wont live to hear all the music in the world and the tracks which will be created in the future and second I am growing as a person and I don’t seem to have one style that can express me as One. I am constantly evolving and devolving. That aside music is my gateway to understanding myself and the universe.
I would say my musical universe is diverse. It has no limits or genre boundaries. Its like the world before we made borders. The only limitation is: i will never ever play songs i dont feel even if you paid me a million bucks.
Music is the voice of my mother when i first heard her speak or when she sang a lullaby to me or the voices coming out of the kitchen when she was playing the music from Somalia before the war that she saved. As a weird kid who always wants something to relate to music was always the outlet. Ain’t it beautiful when you go through a phase and there is a music for it. Music is infinite therefore my answer can’t be definite.
4. Why you moved to Kamapla?
That is actually a sad and also a funny story. But I will give the short version:
My friend and I had a very hard first year of university until it got to the point of depression. So we both decided to drop out of school and my dad told me well in that case the only school that will accept your application this late is a school in Uganda. So I flew from Ethiopia and I have been in Kampala for six years. I love Kampala I feel more at home here than I do anywhere else in the world well the second contender would be Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Kampala chose me. I came to visit my twin sister, tried to study a bunch of things when i noticed: i loved knowledge but education wasn’t for me. The city felt like home. I have never seen people so kind like the Ugandan people and it didn’t take long to fit in. Except off course from the somali community we were discarded and regarded as blasphemous girls. This city feels like its a holiday every day even if you are working every single day. Coming from Addis Ababa the weather can be very depressing. When it gets cold you will ask yourself how in the hell did i go to Europe? We met so many amazing artists who had dreams and passion for music. I feel like we started collecting each other treasurehunt of people who are like minded. That was so and is still is so much fun.
5. I know for a fact Kamapla and East Africa are on the rise. What do you think? How is the underground scene there?
I believe there are a ton of amazing super talented artists sprouting in East Africa and the evolution that has been happening. It is like a wildfire! I don’t think there is a way to turn this flame off for a very loooooooong time.
As for the underground scene I think it came out of a necessity for the artists who wanted to not conform to the style and music which is already dominant in the region. In the beginning it was just a few friends who wanted to listen to some intricate music and it attracted more people who had a place they belonged without limiting who they were and exploring their own style.
Now we are a family that is growing. My fear now is that the underground might turn into the place we run away from. I think it might become the norm. I don’t know if that makes me a hipster.
Definitely music in East Africa is on the rise, we have always been the underdogs in the music department. West Africa and South Africa have always been ahead. The government in West Africa invest money on entertainment, for East Africa its different. It hindered us a bit i guess which didnt stop us from finding a platform. We are at a digital age where one click can change everything.
When i went to Nairobi and saw all the artists on the rise changing the game, It was clear to me the time has come for East Africa. When you see a festival like Nyege Nyege that connects all of us and gives us broad audience, its a gateway for new opportunities.
The underground music scene in Kampala is pretty surreal. Imagine i can go to a rave in Berlin and i feel like yeah we have some of those in Kampala. Its even to a level where you almost can’t tell the difference: we have warehouse parties. secret raves that make you feel like a musical vigilante. To not depend on local bars or clubs to have fun gives us this extent freedom to control the kind of music we would love to hear. It also allows us to gather people whose taste in music is not limited .
I see it as a curated underground scene.
6. Tell me about your way of Style and taste in Fashion. Maybe there is a message? Especially your style of headwraps is very striking.
My style has changed drastically over the years. Coming from a background of a Muslim family I wore long dresses and a hijab and when I was 19 my mom told me to wear jeans . she told me faith is inward and not outward so I slowly transitioned into wearing jeans and now I have no skirts.
I liked collecting crazy prints and t-shirts from the thrift shop. So I went from tie dye t shirts and crazy print pants to jeans and t-shirt that had 80’s pop icons om them. Currently I have over 30 Star Wars t-shirts and you might catch me wearing Star Wars T-shirts 90% of the time.
I wear headwraps everyday except when I am swimming or I feel spontaneous but I feel like my turban is a tool, a safety blanket and I feel like it is worn by so many different African people who have different faith and history. It is my homage to my roots.
My taste in fashion started from my mom: just seeing her wake up and getting dressed that was just art for me. I could always smell her before she came upstairs to my room. Even after she gives you a kiss ,her essence still linger in the air ,on your skin.The way she put on her lipstick ,she shaped her eye brows.it didn’t matter if she stayed home or not.If a surprise party happened,just know she is already ready. so i have adopted more of her style.
As a youngster of course i was a tomboy: i didn’t like being girly or been seen as this little girl who is just gonna sit with her skirt tucked in.I loved being careless.
To actually make a point anything put together can be stylish. I remember when we cried because our mom washed our converses. We told her she destroyed the Punk and she says “PUNK!!!! is DIRTY!!!!”. Had a big Emo phase. When we started wearing our headwraps it started from feeling like it was a shield. You know like when a kid covers their head when scared. It Felt like we were invisible wearing it.
I used to wear longer scarves out of respect to Islam i didn’t want to turn up in the club dance my ass off and disrespect the religion and be a representative to a whole society. The turban is what made me feel shared and african too.
Then we became “turbanistas” – To also show people there is no limit or no headwrap can stop your dream or make you inferior to the society. We have had our fair share of being called “terrorists” i was loving the fact this skinny girl can be seen as scary or a threat. It didn’t hurt much . I have heard it too many times and time to cry is over.
Now its the rise of the “ninjabies” The blasphemous musical terrorist. We have to use what people consider our weakness as a strength and surprise them!
7. Name three artists who are important to you.
Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock and screamin’ Jay Hawakins. By the way: this is a hard question after hard thinking I choose these three.
The artists that are so important to me are Slik Back and Don zillah. They are rising producers whom i relate to and inspire me to create and make music the way i feel it and hear it. They help me break the rules when it comes to music production. People should look at the work they are making high quality mind the “F” word .
The third artist which is so important to me are Gato Preto. They have shown me no matter in what society you can stay true to where you came from and be yourself . To stand up and make my ancestors proud. To never forget where i am from as someone who creates videos and clothes . They also represent every aspect of what i love in the form of art i am into. They are stepping up the game. The energy the crowd gets after they perform is like a transformation ,a vibration many can’t describe with words. I want my audience to feel like that.
8. Tell us about your mixtape and pick 3 songs and what they mean to you.
This mixtape was made out of complete surrender to what I felt and hoping that there is someone out there that may think this one was made for me. To anyone who listens to it find out if it is for you that is all I will say.
The opening track is the intro to 6blocc’s footwork marauders album. I think he has been in this game way before it was cool in a very competitive atmosphere and he is a man of color so why not.
The second song is really important to me because thundercat is one of my icons. he have such a great presence when he performs and it was such a pleasure to see the magic on stage. I deeply connected to his music and his sense of identity he is not in a box of any sort in fact he he is celestial.
Lastly and definitely not the least jagwar ma has played a big role in my Dj’ing a group of young human beings all the way from Australia had the ability to create the track “four” and I felt like they bridged this gap of oceans and invisible lines.
This mix essentially represents the vibe i was feeling at that moment: its called “mebreq”meaning thunder in Amharic, Ethiopian language.I was feeling a bit of nostalgia from the places i came from.Thats why in this mix i think i make a journey in scopes in my life – in the desert ,in addis ababa .
This mix was intended for people just to hear me, dance and chill the way i do. I have many personas not one of my mixtapes is the same or has the same vibe. I try to follow the flow i am in , the energy from the audience and try to connect.
Three songs that are important to me in this mix are ,ዘላለም (Vector of Light) Mikael Seifu . Nato & Sahalé -Swae Lee Slim Jxmmi Rae Sremmurd. The song guatemala is performed by american artist but sounds like nigerian music. It makes me happy the african influence is growing.