DJ Fitz – Middle Eastern & Maghreb Disco Funk from the Golden Era {1975-1985}

Progress in technology isn’t the answer to everything, I’m sure it will be hard to simulate human creativity with its flaws, inconsistencies, faults and improbabilities with artificial intelligence. I can remember how excited my thirteen year old self was, sitting in the dark in a local cinema waiting for Stop making sense to start. Then creativity hit me and aged me in the best way possible. I just couldn’t put my finger on it, I didn’t quite understand what happened, what was so great about the movie, the music and the whole thing – was that punk, but then again, why the big suits, why suits at all? The music was amazing but I didn’t know why I actually liked it, it was catchy and strange at the same time. My head was spinning afterwards, I was high on creativity. I miss those moments. I want art in my life that makes me feel this way. “Kopfleuchten” (could be translated as “headglowing”) was the name of my blog before it became “Pie in the sky” and exactly described this feeling. For me it has nothing to do with drugs but with artistic freedom, loosing control, being creative and passing this excitement to another person – everything is possible if you let it happen.

To be honest there was and still is so much other great music to discover so I lost track of the Talking Heads and David Byrne a little. A few years back I found this incredible electronic music of William Onyeabor on Youtube and was excited again. When I found out that David Byrne’s label Luaka Bop reissued his work, it was like reconnecting to a buddy you haven’t heard from for a while but you find out that you still understand each other. David Byrne’s website is a radio station now and he’s presenting all kinds of interesting music from all the world. I found out about it because the other day I stumbled across the great mix Middle Eastern & Maghreb Disco Funk from the Golden Era {1975-1985} by DJ Fitz from London. It features music from Algeria, India, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Turkey and somebody’s made the effort to write down the playlist. The mix is very entertaining and kind of funny, it’s like you can hear how laid back this guy is and that he’s not taking himself too seriously. “DJ Fitz knows more about music than you do. It’s cool dude. No big deal. If a Turkish disco diva, a Nigerian record producer, and a Brazilian cabaret dancer all got together circa 1976, Fitz would be playing their party. And he’ll play yours, too.” states his website, offering to play at your wedding or funeral, too. Hey DJ Fitz, would you play at my funeral and can I pay later?

“John Fitzgerald is one of the most passionate collectors of music we here at Luaka Bop have ever met. He is one of those people who just cares about finding great music, and then genuinely wants to share it with as many people as possible. In the world of record collecting, DJing and working with obscure music from the past—this kind of feature is much more rare than you might think.

For this month’s show, DJ Fitz, as most people know him, has put together a mix of his favorite songs from the Middle East and Magreb, focused on the golden era of disco and funk. The mix features a few very rare 7″s he found (under a fish bowl!) during his first visit to Turkey in 2006, and others he’s come across since then: the great Ahmed Fakroun from Benghazi, Libya, is featured twice, while the brothers Ziad, Elias and Gassan Rahbani have a few songs, too. Their mother, the legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz, appears towards the end of the show. As always with our show, we don’t attempt to make a representative selection of a whole region or era, it’s just the favorite songs of whoever is making this month’s show… smile

Besides DJing and record collecting, Fitz works with a lot of artists from all over the world. His “day job” is as a booking agent (he recently had the fantastic Mamane Sani, an organ player from Niger, play at his house in London!), and for many years he worked as a tour manager, with bands such as Animal Collective, tUnE-yArDs, Gang Gang Dance, and others. Whenever we release something at Luaka Bop, we sometimes (get lucky?) and the release gets championed by various influential artists or DJs around the world. As time goes, I can usually trace many of those people back to Fitz. It’s like a big family tree, with him as the roots. I’ve started calling him “the source of all things good”. He is always turning me on to a lot great stuff I’ve never heard before, too! (Here’s the most recent example of that.)

To hear more mixes by DJ Fitz, check out his page on mixcloud and his popular podcast called “the DOODCAST”. For upcoming DJ gigs, please visit his website (he is playing the Film Festival in Istanbul next week, if you are lucky enough to be there).

Hope you like the music!

And thank you to David Macleod for the sound editing!

Luaka Bop”

Quotation and featured image taken from David Byrne’s website.

Do you have any additional interesting facts regarding this article? Please comment below, thank you!


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