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Ibibio Sound Machine showcases latest album 'Electricity' at Motorco on Wednesday night

Ibibio Sound Machine
Credit: Jeremy de Luna

Ibibio Sound Machine is a London-based band that mixes modern electronic sounds with a range of traditional West African music with an eye on the dancefloor.

The band is on the road supporting the release of their latest record, Electricity. It's been described as Afrobeat, future funk, post-punk, electro, new-wave disco.

They play at Motorco in Durham on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., and that dance floor will be full.

Lead singer Eno Williams joined WUNC's Eric Hodge as the group geared up for the show.

This is an excerpt of an edited transcript of that conversation. You can hear the full interview by clicking the LISTEN button at the top of this post.

On the track "All That You Want," you sing about getting through the rain and the pain to a brighter day. You've said this record is darker than anything you've done previously. Why is that?

Well, I mean, because it was written during lockdown. And so all that gloom and darkness and uncertainty, I believe that we all face — and I'm sure you'll agree with me that we were all in a place where we weren't really sure where we were going, what was happening in the world — and that sort of started, you know, the snowball of just writing. [We] were writing amidst everything that was going on around us, but we kind of wanted some kind of a ray of hope, some kind of a light at the end of the tunnel.

So, I mean, as we started writing, it took like literally the whole of lockdown. And then by the time lockdown was sort of coming to an end, we were literally finishing the album. So really, that's kind of what that song reflects, as well. You know, bringing everyone together with some positive energy and positive vibes.

Afo Ken Doko Mien is a beautiful sounding song that is almost a cappella. What are you singing about on this one?

It just means: you told me, you promised me that you'd be by my side. ... It was just like a reflection of, you know, like some kind of spiritual reflection of somebody that we spend that time with or somebody that you promise that you'd be able to see again, or God or something. Somebody to be by your side through all that we're going through.

I think for everybody, it just means something different. Some people would have had someone there by their side, some people would have been hoping to see somebody again, by their side.

On many songs you alternate between English lyrics and the Ibibio language of Nigeria where you grew up. Is that part of your mission with this music?

The project, it was pretty much like a bedroom, organic project, where I was just infusing the stories I got told as a kid growing up in Nigeria with electronic sounds. But then I found that going to shows people always wanted to sing along, and I'll have to explain what the songs were about. So we figured, you know, with this record, it'd be nice to be a bit more inclusive. So like, sing a little bit in English, and then in Ibibio just so that people can understand, you know, the background of the story behind the songs and also be able to sing along, as well.

Ibibio Sound Machine plays at Motorco Music Hall in Durham Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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