Almamy is the singer/songwriter behing the ModyWorks label, home to a couple of artists I’ve featured previously (Paco De Moor, F.r.a.c.t.a.l). As well as that, he’s also a dancer, poet and film-maker. I was recently lucky enough to get an interview with this enigmatic character.
Tell me a bit about yourself, your life in Senegal and how you ended up in New York?
Growing up in Dakar was great and all but I knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to stay there my whole life. I wanted to see the world. I was into theatre and dance but my dad wasn’t ecstatic about it, even though he did some acting himself in his youth, so I ran away from home in my teens to go to Paris to dance professionally. I stayed there for a couple of years then I moved to New York cause that’s the place to be when you’re a dancer.
How did your clubbing experiences in New York influence what would become your musical style?
When I first moved to New York I felt isolated, because my days were spent in a dance studio. I would write poetry, or entries in my diary, on how miserable and lonely I was. (Laughs) Then at night I would hit the clubs, Shelter, Filter 14, Cielo etc… I was a regular at the Subliminal Sessions parties. I was also hanging out at Brian ‘Footwork’ Green’s House Dance Conference. I would dance by myself or just sit in the DJ booth and sing my poems over the banging house and juke beats. It was a lot of fun. One thing led to another, next thing you know I’m a singer and making music inspired by what I was hearing in the clubs.
What brought about your singing style? There aren’t many singers like yourself out there right now.
I didn’t really have a reference in terms of singing when I first started out. Like some singers I wanted to emulate or something. House and club music were what inspired me to get into it, I just wanted to sing my words over those sick beats. It’s afterwards that I realized that my singing style was kinda different, cause everybody had something to say about it.
You’re also behind ModyWorks, how do you split your time between singing/performing, writing/recording and label business?
I wake up early and I don’t have a social life. (Laughs)
Some of the acts on the label are from quite far-flung locations. How do you find acts, and what does someone need to feature on your label?
Well obviously I have to be a fan of their music. I wouldn’t sign an act that I’m not a 100% passionate about. I find acts through my friends, bloggers who refer them to me, DJs I know, demos we receive, etc… As long as I love what they do and I know they’re serious about it, I don’t care where they’re from. They could be from Jupiter!
You’ve spoken before about being influenced by experimental cinema – can you give me some examples of some films that have inspired you?
The Short Films of David Lynch, Android 207 by Paul Whittington, Dimensions of Dialogue, Alice, The Flat and Lunacy by Jan Svankmajer, Electroma by Daft Punk, The Cremaster Cycle and Drawing Restraint 9 by Matthew Barney. I love experimental films that you see in exhibitions and museums. So inspiring. I’m also a big fan of film noir and old sci-fi flicks like Forbidden Planet, Alphaville, Metropolis etc…
Would film-making ever be a route you might consider?
I’m currently working a film to go with my next release. It’s short film directed by my good friend Jeffrey Moore. We intend to make a lot of films together in the future and I may direct or co-direct one of them. So to answer your question, yes film-making is definitely something I plan on doing. It’s an art form that I like.
What are your live shows like?
My live show is combination of contemporary dance, theatre and art combined with my music. It’s like an installation. But sometimes I just don’t wanna bother and I just get up there and sing my songs. I guess it depends on my mood and on what I wanna say.
What’s next for you in 2010?
A project called The Love coming out soon. It’s both a record and a film. My cover of Daft Punk’s Digital Love will be the first single and will launch the whole project. Also a lot of touring and hopefully a second film by the end of the year. Wish me luck!