ACL Music Fest Saturday Interview
Diamonds on the soles of their shoes
The Very Best12:30pm, Budweiser stage
Radioclit, the UK-based production duo and foundation of the Very Best, knows no boundaries. Comprised of France's Etienne Tron and Johan Karlberg of Sweden, the two live crew has racked up more frequent-flier miles than the Harlem Globetrotters, collaborating with everyone from K'Naan and Santigold to Bonde do Rolê and Brazilian singer Marina Gasolina.
"Radioclit is all over the place," reports Karlberg from Croatia, via e-mail. "We produce club music of all sorts for people. We try to do different things all the time, which kind of keeps us from having a style, but we come from a background in music where there's a lot of love for ghetto music from all over the world. It doesn't matter to us if it's from Angola, Brazil, or East London. There's so much interesting music out there that influences us when we work."
After meeting him at a secondhand shop outside their studio in East London, Radioclit began collaborating with Esau Mwamwaya, a charismatic Malawian-born singer with an irresistible knack for melodies in both English and various African dialects. After a few high-profile remixes in 2008, the group dropped an introductory mixtape online, Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit Are the Very Best, that immediately went viral, with more than 500,000 downloads in the first two months alone.
The Very Best's proper debut, last year's Warm Heart of Africa, only upped the ante. Global in every regard, the album's an alternate Graceland, an inspired cross-pollination of Afro-pop that boasts first-class cameos from M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig.
"We didn't want to make an 'African project,'" Karlberg insists. "We let Esau bring the African part through his singing, and we just made beats that we liked as usual. He just put his own twist on things. That's kinda the foundation of the project; we come from different places with different backgrounds and meet right in the middle."