How Ethiopian Records is shaping the sound of a genre with NI tools

Ethiopiyawi Electronic originator Endeguena Mulu on using TRAKTOR in the studio, sampling traditional instruments, and developing Ethiopia’s next generation of artists.

Based in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, Endeguena Mulu has spent the last two decades reshaping the sound of African electronic music, pioneering the genre of Ethiopiyawi Electronic with help from fellow artist Mikael Seifu. More than a representation of dubstep-influenced electronica and Ethiopian folk, Ethiopiyawi Electronic is an ethos that embraces culture, community and diversity through the prism of technological collaboration.

Behind Mulu’s stage name, Ethiopian Records, is a strong sense of inclusivity. The now experienced producer first started making music in high school using rudimentary software – a routine that soon became a daily addiction leading to his debut EP Qen Sew (For My Father) in 2015; an experimental release combining the sound of Ethiopian Azmari hymns and sample-based beats and instrumentation.

Further EPs followed, from the free-flowing Letu Sinega to In My Sleep and Ye Feqer Edaye, employing samples culled from the African jazz scene and bonded by Mulu’s fluid cut and paste approach to production. In Ethiopia, where the cost of modern technology is prohibitive, the availability of affordable music software – including that from NI – has had far-reaching consequences for the region’s budding producers.

Mulu himself relies on NI tools not only to create his own music, but also to facilitate Addis Ababa’s WAG entertainment agency, which he co-founded in order to provide support to the next generation of up-and-coming African musicians. However, due to the ongoing pandemic and recent political unrest in the region, the project is now fighting for survival.


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