How was 2019 for you?
Monique Bingham: 2019 was great musically! I feel like I’m bursting with new music and ideas. I wish our long national nightmare would end, but other than that it was productive.
I got to travel and perform in some new parts of Africa this year, including Namibia and Angola for the first time. Every opportunity to perform for folks is a blessing, but it’s lovely to meet people and places you had no idea your music had reached.
The xenophobic “riots” in Johannesburg in September were incredibly disturbing and disheartening. It really messed me up for some weeks. I was touring there the entire month. As a part-time punk Pan-Africanist to watch African nationals fight other African nationals in Africa was a mind fuck for someone like me. But I am lucky I have a lot of great friends in SA, and I can also count the great Nigerian painter Lemi Ghariokwu as a friend, and they really talked me off the ledge.
Song of the year?
Ralf GUM feat. Bongi Mvuyana’s “Used To Be.” Bongi is one of the most original singers I have heard in ages.
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
To remember who I was when I first started this musical sojourn and to be as fearless as she was in everything I do in 2020.
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They should use Ralf GUM as a spokesman for positive thinking, taking the place of Bobby McFerrin for a new “Don’t Worry Be Happy” campaign. The German replays his house paradise of Uniting Music with effortless elegance. If you like your house a little more ‘uptight,’ GUM will seem like the anti-DJ. If you want class and respecting of values that reaffirm faith, GUM is king of a castle he’s built with his own bejewelled bucket and spade, glossing everything from pianos to percussion to bass to brass to vocals with sunny grace and Latin schmoozing.
Put Never Leaves You in a scrum of soulful funky house and it’ll struggle to break from the pack. It only knows one direction, just keeping its head above the watery in places (“Burning Star”), regardless of the calibre of assisting vocalists Robert Owens, Soul II Soul’s Caron Wheeler (on the marginally more uppity “So Good”) and Kenny Bobien. Know the man’s standards and what you want on a hot flute-clinking day and you’ll be quickly eyeing your position by the pool, your rump shaking politely amidst respectful flirtations (Jaidene Veda’s “Do It For Love” is all about private hideaways and Mediterranean luxury). You can absolve GUM from clichés when his sonic sunscreen begins working into crisping skin, because it’s the easiest of club music to shape your schedule around. File under: Reel People, Tone Control, Raw Artistic Soul