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Afro Jazz

Exploring the Infectious Energy and Fusion of Jazz, House, and Afrobeat with ZFEX: An Exclusive Interview with Dirty Disco.

Kono Vidovic April 22, 2023 130 4 5

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Today, I’m delighted to be joined by Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange (ZFEX), a group of jazz and house music lovers who have been creating music together since 2017. With members from Melbourne, Berlin, and London, their unique sound bridges genres like afrobeat, bossa nova, and electro, amongst others. They are a band of ravers who read and write music, DJ, produce, and most importantly, dance. Their music is a progressive gathering for moving, loving, and creating. Let’s get to know them better.

Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange - Kreuzberg Kix EP 2 - artwork

When did ZFEX form and what was the common factor that brought you all together?

The band formed in 2017. These musicians connected through a mutual love of jazz and house music. Soon after bridging many styles such as afrobeat, bossa nova, broken beat, electro to name a few. 

Who are the members of ZFEX and what parts do you all play in the band?

We have several branches : Melbourne, Berlin, London. There are many artists across these cities that collaborate with us on many levels among those are: Lewis Moody, Mathew Hayes, Javier Fredes, Eric Owusu, Szabolcs Bognar, Roman Klobe Baranga, Oli Savill, Aduni Geldes, Finn Rees, Erica Tucceri.

Where are you all from and where are you based now? 

The band formed in Naarm (Melbourne) ‘so called Australia’ is now based between Berlin and London. 

Are you all classically trained musicians?

No! We are rave trained. We all read and write music, DJ, and produce, know how to handle substances and most importantly know how to dance.

ZFEX - Ziggy Zeitgeist

If you had to put it into words, what would you say is the defining spirit of ZFEX?

Energy Exchange is a progressive gathering for moving, loving, and creating.

Where and when was your first live gig together? How was it?

Night Cat, Naarm. It was terrible we sucked so bad come to think of it I don’t know how we ever got booked again. 

How much do you think you have changed/ developed since that first gig and in what ways?

I hope we have improved. lols. Naturally, the music has expanded from more improvised primitive techno sounds to more arranged and focused grooves drawing more from specific music movements, much like a DJ would consider their set as a kind of journey through styles, movements, or eras in music. 

There is something incredibly special that happens at a live, an energy that you could say is contagious. What does it feel like when you all catch that buzz on stage?

We feel blessed every day to do what we do and how fortunate we are to have the gift of music. We thank the higher spirits for bringing us together. 

Have you collaborated with many vocalists on your live? Are there artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Yes, we work with vocalists sometimes, but we like to keep the focus instrumental it’s more dynamic and better for the dancefloor. We have worked with : Wayne Snow, Dreamcast Moe, Allysha Joy, Jitwam, Rara Zulu to name just a few. 

Wayne Snow

I see you are playing at Meadows in the Mountains. That is an incredibly special festival. What has been your most special/ memorable gig memory?

Yea, that was a really beautiful festival we were there last year it was amazing. Probably some my greatest moments were playing warehouse rave parties organised by friends. we were free to express ourselves and not working within the limited frameworks of venues/ industry /capitalism. 

How much of your live set is improvised? 

Hmmm depends on the vibe of the night. At the moment anywhere between 30-60 % I would say. It’s been a long process finding the perfect balance of composed and improvised material.

How do you get in the zone for an improvised set? Are there some rituals that you follow before you go on stage?

We give praise to the higher spirits that bring us together. We breath together, we hype each other, we laugh, we joke, most of all were here to have fun.

How does the live aspect compare to being in the studio? Where are you most at ease?

They both balance each other and we need both aspects. It’s not a choice for us, they both complement each other, and to be honest, we are equally comfortable in both settings. We just love making music together.

Is it right that you recorded your first album in the Jazzanova studio? 

That was the first record with the Berlin band. We worked with a local label that had a link up there. GET TOGETHER and of course we were all long-time fans of Jazzanova. So, it was a nice match . 

These guys are legends. Would you cite the Jazzanova movement/ collective as an inspiration to you and the music that you make?

Yea, no doubt they were a critical point in the movement bringing acid jazz and breakbeats to a new generation .

The Co-Op days were pretty significant. Did you follow those guys and sounds at all? 

Yea of course they’re legends. We just released a track with them. Gassed!

People think of Berlin as the city of techno, making music with machines for machines, but there is a ton of future jazz going on. Where is the place to head to hear great live music in city?

Film Kunst bar on a Tuesday is a nice session, also regular venues like Badehaus, Urban Spree, Arkaoda, and Loophole.

Sci Fi Jazz Directions – Some seriously elevated musicianship on that collection. Congratulations on that. How has the album done for you?

Yea cheers, it’s been ok I guess but we don’t really care. By the time the label gets to finally releasing we’ve already been working on a bunch of other new records that are way more interesting, so we kind of stop following at that point. 

You played at Secretsundaze in London last year, was that your first introduction to James & Giles? How did you all hook up?

Na.. I’ve known the guys for years bunch of legends. James Priestly came down to a show of ours in London in 2019 and introduced himself afterwards. Later that night they took us out to the Horse Meat Disco, a legendary queer disco night in the city. 

Tell us a little about the new EP ‘Kreuzberg Kix.’ What are you most proud of on this new release?

It’s Kruezberg Kix vol. 2. It’s kind of a two-sided EP, the A-side is a straight soulful house burner. The B-side is some kind of jazz-rave psychedelia. It’s kind of different but you know that’s life isn’t it ?  

Who else do you think is making great music right now?

Probably the people making the best music right now, you or me have never heard of.. Think about that for a minute!

What are the next ambitions for ZFEX?

We’re focusing on setting up our label, Energy Exchange Records where we can take more creative risks and control our own assets. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you?

All good. Thanks for the support and checking out the music. 

Final words.

It’s been fascinating to talk to Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange about their music, journey, and the power of live performances. From their early days of terrible gigs to their current eclectic and improvisational sets, this band is a joy to watch live. Whether you catch them in a warehouse rave or at a music festival, their energy is contagious. We can’t wait to see where their journey takes them next. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out their latest EP, Kreuzberg Kix EP 2, and catch them at one of their upcoming gigs.

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco

Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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