Ones to Watch (No 13) – Wafa
Quite possibly the most exciting thing to come out of Norfolk since Norwich City’s 1992/93 Premier League side, young producer Wafa shot into the consciousness of discothèque goers with Ewid Disco, a sterling debut on Sinden’s Grizzly imprint realeased earlier this year. The title tune was described by Sinden as “some kind of bastard Italo track with crazy Super Mario Brothers basslines”, and he was right – it’s a mangled stomper of a tune. But that debut EP is not the only string to his bow – he’s also toured the world as a drummer for the likes of Basement Jaxx, Lily Allen and Kano. Now based in West London, we swapped a few emails about pink wafers, his upcoming releases and how he almost called himself Dub Biscuit.
Introduce yourself – tell us a bit about your upbringing and exactly how you found your way from Norwich to West London.
I am Wafa, I originally came to London to go to music college, which is where I met good friends Tim Land (aka producer Landslide) and Frazer T Smith (songwriter / pop producer) and I went from there. I have toured all over the world playing drums for acts such as Basement Jaxx, Lady Sovereign, Kano and Lily Allen. I’ve always DJ’d at parties and small clubs and bars in London.
What were the key moments in your life that got you into music production? I noticed that you specifically mention Toddla T on your MySpace page – is he a big influence?
I was really into Grant Nelson and MAW. I also got into the house thing – during this time Landslide said I should get myself a laptop and start making beats, so I did. It took me took ages to get my production skills down. I would be playing my tracks to Simon and Felix from Basement Jaxx as we were on the road most of the time together. It was such a family vibe and we were all good friend – they always helped and encouraged me in what I was doing, so they have been a massive influence on me. I remember when we were headlining the Big Chill in 2009, I was checking out the rest of the festival , and when I came to Toddla T’s tent it blew me away. It reminded me of the Grant Nelson vibe with mash up rave, and everyone going mental. I thought at the time – I wanna make some mad beat bleep shit like this, so I came back to my humble studio in Kensal Rise and made “Ewid Disco”.
“I saw Toddla T and he blew me away. It reminded me of the Grant Nelson vibe with mash up rave, and everyone was going mental. I thought at the time – I wanna make some mad beat bleep shit like this”
And where does the name Wafa come from?
At first I thought of the name of Dub Biscuit which is crap. I was talking to Felix and he said ‘what’s your favourite biscuit’? I said I like pink wafers… And being a Monty Python fan, I thought of the Mr. Creosote saying: “just one last wafer-thin mint”, and that’s it – Wafa.
How and when did you hook up with Landslide and Seiji, and in what ways do they mentor you?
Landslide I know from Music College – he is an amazing producer, really ahead of his time. I massively respect him. I met Seiji through my girlfriend at Cherry Jam a few years ago, and we just vibed. I did some drums on his productions and he started giving me pointers and encouragement on my stuff.
Tell us how you met Sinden and came to release on Grizzly imprint…
Mr True Don, Sinden… we met through Felix, when we did the Inside Out parties together at Jamm in Brixton. I used to warm up for Graham and Felix playing disco. When I sent him “Ewid Disco” he went mad for it.
Sinden has described “Ewid Disco” as “some kind of bastard Italo track with crazy Super Mario Brothers bass lines”. How does that description sit with you!?
Are you DJing often at the moment?
The real gigs are starting to come in which is great. My DJ sets have a bit of twist to them. I’m taking a couple of drum pads out with me and I’m playing in parts of my set whilst I’m mixing. I just think its bit boring seeing a person behind a pair of CDJs with their head down, you’ve got to put bit of a show on!
Where is the best place you have heard one of your tracks played?
It would have to be Plan B (in Brixton) when Simon and Felix dropped “Ewid Disco” – every one went mental and it sounded good on the system. It was cool randomly turning on the radio and hearing Annie Mac dropping it at Glastonbury as well.
What are you working on the moment, in terms of original material and remixes? Are you working on anything else for Grizzly?
I’ve just finished my edit and dub of “Take Off” which is a track that Felix B has done and I think is coming out on Grizzly soon , and a remix for Redux & Maelstrom called “Wide Open”.
What does the future hold for Wafa?
More gigs, more tunes, more remixes, more fun.