Glasgow's Highlife lynchpin
Auntie Flo

Glaswegian Brian D’Souza’s Auntie Flo project is an intriguing one. In a club scene largely defined by its enduring love for techno and house, Auntie Flo and his Highlife club-night venture may initially seem displaced in Glasgow. As notoriously open-minded as Glaswegian clubbers are the idea of a successful percussive tribalism and Afrobeat residency is often followed by a few raised eyebrows. Yet that is exactly what Auntie Flo and his production partner Esa Williams have been doing in the Sub Club, and to lively praise all round.

As a decade-long veteran DJ, Brian says: “Clubs in Glasgow are phenomenal, but Highlife is doing something completely different. We wanted to forge our own path and challenge people to experience new music that they would never have heard before, but also by providing a party that people can really get down and dance to.” This Highlife sound is largely defined by a vast diaspora of black music that openly rejects the insipid and patronizing ‘world music’ tag, and brings together the Glaswegian love for Detroit techno and Chicago house with a variety of Latin, African and Caribbean influences.

As the production front of the Highlife sound Auntie Flo is keen to articulate and celebrate this movement, and translate it to the dance floor without the tired associations of world music. “It’s important to acknowledge that black music is more than house and techno, yet explaining to folk that we play music from all round the world - but not what you think of when you speak about ‘world music’ - can be testing. It’s an incredibly arrogant term, coined by mainstream record stores to help appeal to a lazy Western audience, but we’re working on it.” That hard work is paying off, too.

This project has most recently resulted in the fantastic ‘Future Rhythm Machine’, Auntie Flo’s debut album on the taste-making Huntleys & Palmers label. Brian feels that he has “always been drawn more to the rhythm and percussive elements of a track than the lyrics, yet I was also equally inspired by reading Kodwo Eshun’s writings on the ‘futurhythmachine’ and Steve Goodman’s thoughts on Afrofuturism. The album evolved from the idea of taking percussion or rhythmical samples from a narrow sound palette and building something completely new on top.”

With this technique in mind, the album guides us through this musical exodus with a warm affection and remarkably diverse sense of rhythm. ‘Future Rhythm Machine’ emphasises a kinship between the UK bass sound and the rich rhythmical fabric of African drumming that truly encapsulates the Highlife sound, and looks to comfortably solidify the ideology of the Auntie Flo project.

Auntie Flo Essentials:
‘Haven’t Got Anybody’ (Huntley and Palmers)
‘Can I Have Him’ (Huntley and Palmers)
‘Futurismo’ (Huntley and Palmers)

Download Auntie Flo's ‘Futurismo’ track as part of this month's Cross Section Download album.


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