AfrotroniX, the obsession of a futuristic Chad
Caleb Rimtobaye, alias, AfrotroniX was crowned best African DJ in 2018. © RFI / Aurélie Bazzara
Best African DJ in 2018, Caleb Rimtobaye, aka AfrotroniX, is back in Chad, his homeland, to celebrate his victory. The opportunity for this "Afrofuturist" to draw new sources of inspiration and fine tune his project merging electro and traditional Chadian rhythms. Meet.
RFI Musique: You have been voted Best African DJ of the Year 2018 with your song Oyo at the All Africa Music Awards in Accra, Ghana. What does this prize inspire you?
AfrotroniX: It is a great pride to come back to Chad with this award. Chadian artists think they are not good enough to compete on the international stage. With this price, I show them that we can break the house.
Now living in Canada, you regularly return to N'Djamena. Is it important for you to stay in Chad?
These stays reconnect me to my roots and feed my art. I listen as much as possible to traditional music, especially the artist Ildjima. I also spend time with my family, which is composed of singers and dancers. To see them proud of me reinforces me in my main mission: to introduce Chadian music to the world.
On December 31 st, you played Little Country at the Dary Festival. This title mixes gorane, sara and arabic. Can we talk about commitment when the country seems divided by community conflicts?
I wanted to affirm my identity as N'Djamenois and work for a united Chad. Everyone has grown up with a sara friend or a gorane cousin. But we are embarrassed to express it because of history and elders who continue to advocate community division. This concert showed that young people are above these divisions.
© RFI / Aurélie BazzaraAfrotroniX surrounded by his fans in N'Djamena, January 2019.
AfrotroniX is a pseudonym that refers to Afrofuturism, an art movement that you claim. How would you define it?
I define Afrofuturism as a future seen by Africans. Young Africans are constantly trying to look like Westerners. Africa should take back its future and its values in hand. In my titles Tomorrow or Haraï-Before they came, I call the African youth to be interested in technological evolution, because I have the impression that it is the technology that conditions the evolution of our world.
Is not it paradoxical to define ourselves as "Afrofuturist" in a country where social networks have been blocked for several months?
I do not understand this fear. Fortunately some young people like WenakLabs (an innovation center in N'Djamena, editor's note) do not let it go. The government must manage conflict differently. It's not up to the youth to pay for it.
You started the music in the H'Sao group made up of members of your family. Why take the AfrotroniX turn in 2017?
H'Sao was perceived as world music . I wanted to make music less community and more universal. With AfrotroniX, I take African music in unusual styles like electronic music that seduced me. Pari successful, because the electro allowed me to play traditional Chadian music on scenes where H'Sao could never have performed.
Exactly, how do you explain that Chadian music is struggling to make itself known to the general public?
It has long been a copy of Congolese music because President Tombalbaye, crazy about rumba, sent artists to train in DR Congo. And those who tried other styles were strongly criticized. Today, our music is urban, but it does not target enough an international audience. It must also be added that no structure supports artists in Chad. If an artist does not eat, he ends up dying and his art too.
AfrotroniX NomadiX (Productions Sia Inc) 2017
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By: Aurélie Bazzara
album - Electro - African Music - Chad