Prior to now two years, Eno Williams has picked up sufficient new hobbies to fill a medium-sized rec heart: curler skating, tennis, textile design, making customized lamps. That’s along with her function because the charismatic frontwoman for the eight-piece London dance band Ibibio Sound Machine, whose high-energy tracks merge components of up to date digital and UK membership music with basic Afrobeat and highlife. It’s a cross-cultural connection that’s deeply private for Williams, who was born in England and moved as a baby to affix household among the many Ibibio individuals of southeastern Nigeria, earlier than returning to London as a younger grownup.
The group’s spectacular fourth album, Electrical energy, was produced alongside members of Scorching Chip, who helped the Sound Machine faucet into an much more highly effective and emphatic presence on file. Their thunderous synths now really feel like they’ve their very own gravitational area, and Williams’ voice rings out as if from the highest of a mountain. That is music that summons a crowd to affix collectively in celebration—simply the factor that’s been hardest to return by over the previous two years.
Working in London via the spring and fall of 2020, Ibibio Sound Machine had been profoundly affected by the yr’s tumult: first, the isolation of pandemic lockdown, then the collective grief and worldwide protest spurred by the homicide of George Floyd. Williams’ lyrics method these heavy matters obliquely, however they’re by no means removed from the floor. On the title monitor, she weighs the relative significance of watchwords like “equality” and “emergency” towards the true common language: love.
Subliminal messaging is an Ibibio Sound Machine speciality. Since Williams typically writes lyrics in Ibibio—a localized language even inside Nigeria—the group has spent years eager about how greatest to speak to audiences unlikely to grasp her phrases actually. On Electrical energy, the message is considered one of irrepressible optimism within the face of galvanizing challenges. “For any regular individual, after some time, you assume, I simply can’t stick with it any extra,” Williams says over a video name. “So our mandate was to only be hopeful, to attempt to discover that interior power.”
Right here, Williams and Ibibio’s musical director and saxophonist Max Grunhard talk about the individuals, devices, and artistic distractions that helped them stick with it making Electrical energy.
Eno Williams: Throughout lockdown, a buddy of mine was like, “I most likely ought to begin curler skating.” I used to be like, “I’m most likely too outdated for that. If I fall and break my hip, that’s it.” I’d by no means tried it earlier than. However I purchased skates and watched a couple of YouTube movies. I went to the park and bumped right into a skate group there, and all people was so encouraging. Each time I had a little bit little bit of spare time outdoors of writing and doing different stuff, I used to be like, “I’m gonna apply.” I’d commute, backwards and forwards, and removed the concern. After which I actually acquired into it and began having fun with it. I’ve been going since then.