African Footprint International Cassette
This record was recorded at in Cape Coast Ghana, where AFI is the hub of the music scene, and recorded by the founders of Lightning, before they had even started Lightning. For us over here at Lightning, it really embodies some part of what Lightning is supposed to be, which is part label, part umbrella for music collaboration. And this is such a special record, because AFI, a band, as well as a musical non-profit focuses on bringing people together, both in music, but in a more inspired general sense as well and Lightning certainly owes some of that inspiration to AFI and it’s founder Kweku Addison.
I first met Kweku from African Footprints International in Denmark at the Roskilde festival which is kind of like a Danish Coachella but bigger, and wetter. I think perhaps the Red Hot Chili Peppers were headlining that year. Dana from Akron/Family had met some of the drummers somewhere at the festival and invited them to sit in during our set, and they showed up with 20 drummers and dancers. It was incredible. Afterwards, I sat down back stage with Kweku, part sage part rebel, who told me about how his organization teaches the deaf to dance in Ghana and extended an invitation to visit him in Ghana.
In 2008 Ali and I began emails with Kweku about his ideas to make a record, and In January 2009, Ali and I traveled to Ghana and stayed with Kweku and his family in Cape Coast, planning to produce and engineer a record for them.
We worked closely with his incredible group of drummers, singers, and musicians to record songs that he had recently written based on traditional Ghanian drum patterns. We spent several weeks with them recording the songs and hanging out at night, hot, playing cards, drinking palm gin from small plastic bags and listening to their mp3s of Metallica and Aerosmith on their old Nokia cell phones.
Kweku wanted us to take the music back to the US and have musicians play on it, as a conversation, a way for these rhythms to reach out further into the world. We did overdub sessions with a bunch of great musicians like Dana Janssen (Akron/Family), Jef Brown (Jackie O Motherfucker/Gospel of Mars), Luke Wyland (AU), Cord Amato (Motrik), and Justin Small and Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think), bringing in elements and influences and sounds from Pharaoh Sanders to Neil Young’s Dead Man Soundtrack, we added everything from drums and lap steel to saxophone and metal noise guitar and then went to Detroit Michigan to shape it and mix it all together with notorious producer/engineer Chris Koltay (Liars/Dirtbombs/War on Drugs/Holy Fuck).
The results are somewhere between a field recording an a handshake across time. As Kweku says of us all - “We are the architects of time”.