Colin: First, congratulations on your International Reggae and World Music (IRAWMA) Awards nomination. Can you describe how this came about?
Ugochi: No, not really. lol. I used to sing at the Wild Hare (a legendary reggae club in Wrigleyville) for several years with a band called UNI. I also perform with my own band called A.S.E. We blend afrobeat, reggae, samba jazz and soul to create a unique genre we call "Afro Soul." I actually found out about the nomination from a friend in Jamaica who's husband sings Gospel oriented reggae music. He was also nominated for an award. It is a real blessing to be internationally recognized for doing what you love to do. I am very grateful.
Colin: "World Music" as a genra or term, to me, can come off as generic and simplistic. It's a term that I've sometimes been uncomfortable with. As a Chicagoan creating Afro Soul music with A.S.E., where do you see your work fitting, or not fitting, into what is happening internationally? What do you think about "World Music" as a genra?
Ugochi: I always find it interesting that no matter how compelling the music that is being created in America might be it is rarely classified as "World" music. As a child of Nigeria, West Africa, my work has been greatly enhanced by the music of the African diaspora and Caribbean. I didn't set out to make world music, I just wanted to reflect the sounds I was most moved and influenced by in my travels to different countries. I am a big fan of percussion and unique rhythms. That was my real goal in creating the album, A.S.E. After the music was completed we as a band realized we had created something fresh and innovative and decided to name it before outsiders to our creative process did it for us. That was how Afro Soul was born. A.S.E stands for Afro Soul Effect.
Colin: I'm curious about your writing process, especially how you worked with Chris Silva and Lauren Feece (Lovercraft) on the Ten x Ten collaboration. What is your usual process, and was it the same or different for this project?
Ugochi: Well, it was important to both of us that we created a work that was a collaborative effort. I didn't want to use any previously existing song lyrics and Chris told me that he also produces music. So, that seemed like a perfect fit. I let him select certain tracks he was happy to use and i listened and chose from his archive of songs. I thought the Mother Falcon song had the spirit and ambiance that the project called for. I began writing to it and the rest is what you hear on the track. From the culmination of the recording process, Lauren stepped in and contributed her visual gift to the process.
Colin: It turned out beautifully. Thanks for being a part of the project! Any last thoughts...?
Ugochi: I am honored and humbled to be a featured artist this Friday on Tony Sarabia's Radio M series. I love NPR and listen to it all the time. I don't usually listen to the radio so that is saying alot. I'm also very excited to meet and collaborate with Megitza who invited us to share this special night of women in world music with her this Friday night at the Mayne Stage. Please come out and support local, international women doing big things for their local music scene.