Sicilian-born, UK-based DJ and producer Clafrica has been heavily influenced by the dub and reggae sounds from a very early age and the geographical proximity to Africa allowed him to soak in the various cultures that exist in Sicily – moulding him into the musician that he is today. Owing his first musical exposure to the Space Jam soundtrack and 90s basketball video games, as well as his first time seeing a DJ courtside at the And1 Mixtape European tour, Clafrica’s love of both music and basketball have always gone hand in hand. After honing his craft as a DJ and studio engineer from as early as 12 years old, and moving from Sicily to Edinburgh in 2010 to further his studies of sound design, Clafrica has emerged as a certified production mad scientist and studio boffin in his own right. Fast forward to 2019, Clafrica emerged as one of the most exciting new producers on the scene with a string of releases on labels such as Axe On Wax, Vakum, Deep&Roll, and Perpetua. Fast forward, he makes his Darker Than Wax debut with Never Not Balling – a dazzling sonic exploration of nostalgia, vintage circuits, and basketball. At every point in his discography, Clafrica’s sonic depth and stylish approach is on display, driven by raw and unrelenting dance music energy.
How / When / Why did you start playing?
I developed a passion and an ear for music from a young age; I’d be making pause tapes, recording songs from the radio with my dad’s hi-fi tape recorder the machines. The first time I experienced DJing came about through basketball; my dad took me to the And1 Mixtape European tour live where they had DJs court side with the mighty announcer Duke Tango and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I even went to ask for a track ID that ended up being Busta Rhymes – Turn it up lol. Sharing music on Internet wasn’t really a thing yet so I mainly got introduced to new music through movies and video games soundtracks. In particular basketball games always had the best rap songs, so my love for sports and music always went hand to hand. After that And1 experience I got some belt drive turntables at 13 and taught me how to use them while buying my first records in a local store; the next year I had my jump start in the reggae and dancehall local scene opening up for headlining djs and built up my reputation. The thing that mainly drove me to Djing was being able to be a part of a community and meet likeminded people who shared the same interests as you. As I studied more and gained more experience it became more about sharing my music knowledge to others while also seeing their reaction; the most fun thing now is having the immediate feedback, which is extremely cool to see when your playing your own productions like I did in my latest live sets.
Where do you draw from to get new music? / What is your musical exploration process?
I would say I discover the best new music mostly through Instagram or Bandcamp as I can navigate through a network of music makers that I discovered overtime and be instantly updated on what’s new with them. Unfortunately I have to say I don’t spend nearly enough time searching for other people’s music as I’m busy making my own most of the time.
3 Qualities that all DJs should have in your opinion and why
Humbleness; I wish more deejays would keep their ego in check and make it about the music instead of themselves; many are in it for the spotlight and the exposure but doing a service to the music and the audience is what matters the most.
Persistency: it’s easy now to pick up Djing or production but who’s gonna actually be dedicated to the craft, study the ins and outs and not give up on it? Let’s see if you still here in 10 years time.
Be open to everything; Unless you’re gonna play all mainstream music which is all garbage anyway, you’re gonna have to dig all the underground people in dance music so you can let people know there’s better stuff out there to be discovered.
What has the pandemic meant for you? What impact did it had on your personal life?
The pandemic brought a chance to slow down and reflect and take the time to retool for the future. I started taking piano lessons, studying music theory and that helped tremendously, especially psychologically.
Creatively I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to finish tracks especially last year with all the deaths and the social injustice stuff in the States it was a bit rough to really focus on personal stuff ; although I’m definitely privileged, I have a roof on my head, food on my plate and I’m able to make music so I definitely count my blessings.
3 names of producers or DJs that inspire you
Zopelar Byron the aquarius knxwledge They’re the ones I follow the most, all of their production styles inspire me and push me to turn on the machines at night.
Future projects, are you working on something specific at the moment?
Al the moment I’m not working on anything specific production wise but I’m doing the sound mixing of different short films; tracks will always be made but I’m mostly working on my piano studies as I want to make very different music in the future and hopefully become a jazz pianist in the next five years; I don’t want to grow old making ghetto house if you know what I mean.