Diplo’s house and techno label Higher Ground further embraces the Afro-house rhythms that are dominating dance floors around the globe with the release of Nitefreak and Emmanuel Jal’s ‘Gorah.’ The track unites rising Zimbabwean star Nitefreak’s production with vocals from Emmanuel Jal, a South Sudanese artist, author, and former child soldier, who sings in Naath/Nuer, a language of the people of South Sudan and Western Ethiopia.
Gorah follows up Nitefreak’s previous release on Higher Ground, ‘Kamili’ with Francis Mercier, continuing Diplo’s mission to bring Afro-centric rhythms to the global dance music community. The track began with production from Nitefreak, who then shared the beat with Emmanuel Jal, an artist that he’s looked up to as a pioneer of the Afro-house sound. Recorded in Kenya, Emmanuel’s lyrics deal with handling pressure, coping with ongoing global crises, and the importance of reaching out to support one another in challenging times.
We sat down with Nitefreak following the release of ‘Gorah,’ to discuss how the track came about, working with Emmanuel Jal, and more.
WWD: Hi Nitefreak! Welcome to When We Dip. Let’s start with ‘Gorah.’ Can you tell us about the track and the meaning behind it?
Thank You for inviting me! Emmanuel Jal wrote the song, so I’ll quote him: “It’s about the ongoing global crisis and how we get so busy and only worry about ourselves. The lyrics are meant to ask questions about how life is treating us, and how we’re handling this pressure, how we are coping. These are questions to ask loved ones, friends, business colleagues, and even people we met in the past that we are no longer in contact with. So it’s basically meant to reach out to people and ask them how they are dealing with their daily lives in between the global crisis.”
WWD: You recently performed with Diplo and Francis Mercier. How did you originally link up with Diplo and what led you to release the track on ‘Higher Ground’?
Like how most things happen nowadays, I guess, via DM on Instagram. I met Diplo in Lisbon for our Deep Root Tribe showcase and afterwards, I sent my demo to him via Instagram. He liked it, and here we are. This is my second release on Higher Ground, after ‘Kamili’ with Francis Mercier. I also did a remix of his track ‘Make You Happy’ with WhoMadeWho.
WWD: How did you originally come to collaborate with Emmanuel Jal? How did your show in Dubai come about this past weekend, and how was it?
Francis Mercier orchestrated the collab, and once we had Emmanuel Jal record vocals on the record we knew he was the one for the job. Both our schedules aligned this past weekend, so the Deep Root team, in conjunction with Five Dubai, thought it would be great to put on a showcase at Five Palm Bohemia Beach and have us both perform the record live for our release weekend! The crowd reaction was insane, and will be a moment I’ll never forget!
WWD: What are your earliest memories of hearing music in Zimbabwe? What were the artists you were listening to? What were your earliest memories with dance music?
I grew up listening to Bob Marley because of my Father, but I liked anything really, had no favorite genre growing up. I was introduced to dance music by a friend through Soul Candi compilations.
WWD: What inspires the music you are making currently?
Afrojack & Kususa, that’s the formula.
WWD: Who are some artists on your radar that you feel are ‘ones to watch’ in 2024?
Keep an eye out for Atmos Blaq, Mpho Wav, Fka Mash, Samuel Cosmic, Tayllor, Demaya, Alley and Thakzin.
WWD: As we approach the end of the year, how are you reflecting back on 2023?
It’s been a great year so far. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m getting better at my craft in order to cement my name. That’s always the goal. I also got to travel around the world and learn more about different cultures.
WWD: What do you have in store for 2024? What are you looking forward to the most next year, both musically and non-musically?
Musically, I will see what God has planned for me. Till then I just work, enjoy life, and stay humble and grateful for all he has done for me this year.