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Asna x anyoneID - Abissa (Official Video)

“Abissa”: Asna’s sacred trance and hybrid future

PAM met with Asna, visual artist, DJ and producer at the Antigel Festival in Geneva to talk about her second single “Abissa” with AnyoneID, a track inspired by ceremony and imbued with the digital future of African youth.

The first time I heard the drum or Abissa during the traditional Abissa ceremony I fell into a trance,” Asna told me on an icy night over lake Geneva, La Sunday collective mixing baile funk in the room next door. “I was there and I heard the techno, I heard the trance, and there was a kind of whirlwind inside me!” Asna continued more and more animated by her memory, “I thought to myself, wow humanity is stupid! In reality, we are all connected, we are all really one! Everything is the same in the end.” 

Though all may be the same, Asna and AnyoneID’s single Abissa, is decidedly different, blending the hard technics of electronic music with the drums of rhythms of Africa. The single itself is named after the celebration of the N’zima New Year which features the Edo N’Gbolé (sacred drum) which sent Asna into a trance and triggered a long journey of exploration to capture what struck her so during that moment. “Just hearing that drum, I could hear the rhythms of the whole world. It’s been since 2015 I’ve been thinking I have to do something with this. I need to physically bring this to life…

Asna is a visual artist by trade, based in Abidjan. However, like the N’Zima of the Abissa ceremony, Asna has a long migratory history that brings a colorful unity to the young artist’s creations. Her first musical release “Atalaku” dropped in July 2021. The track is a predecessor of what “Abissa” was to become; a smooth blend of deep house and what sounds like Congolese rumba or Ghanian highlife. Though, with “Abissa”, Asna has turned the dials up a few notches. When speaking to Asna about musical debuts, it’s hard to pin down where to begin. “I always say as an African woman, in truth, we are swimming in music. I have always been immersed in music,” Asna explains. “For me it has always been natural. It’s in everyday life.” 

Natural like meeting Black Charles in the early days of La Sunday collective; an Abidjan block party turned music festival in a matter of months. Black Charles is one of La Sunday’s founders and was on tour with Asna in Geneva along with co-founders Fayçal Lazraq, and Lionel aka DJ Jeunelio. “When I came back from Morocco, I saw Charles. There was a bar where he was a resident and I went there all the time,” Asna recounts. “One day I said to him, ‘Charles, I’d like you to teach me how to mix,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ My first set was 20 minutes and it was a disaster!” Asna laughs. The disaster didn’t last long. To date, Asna has played on of some of the African and electronic music world’s most sought after stages including Afropunk, les Nuits Sonores, Nyege Nyege, Maquis Electroniq, and of course La Sunday.

I asked Asna what she thought it was that made her style fit so well on stages from Kampala to Paris. “When I started making music, the basis of it all, what motivated me was to be able to share my identity, my culture, in a way that was authentic and sincere to the generation I’m part of; that is completely free and uninhibited compared to the previous one” she explains. “And when I say uninhibited I’m talking about the whole colonial heritage, that kind of thing.” “Abissa,” along with the video, embodies an ecstatic freedom. In the video, a pink haired dancer gesticulates through the streets, luring kids out of the day’s activities and into a festival of dance. Though there are sacred passages of elders with weathered faces, the clip is a celebration of the youth’s uncontrollable urge to dance. 

What is my generation?” Asna asks, “I am Ivorian, I am Senegalese, I am Mauritanian. I traveled everywhere, I studied in Morocco, I studied in France… I am part of a generation that is a bit hybrid but well rooted now. I know where I come from.” She continues, “We have made peace with all the demons inherited from colonization and slavery… We know where we come from, we are at peace with our history and we are now going out into the world. My music is also that. It’s infused with my African identity with some weird digital sounds that I take from everywhere. That’s the story of my latest single.”

This also seems to be the zeitgeist that created the La Sunday phenomenon in Abidjan which turned a 50 person get-together into a 10,000 person music festival in 6 months. In music, in dance, and in the spaces created, there’s a lightness to being that calls for the way forward; the drum a transcendent sound, the rhythms a gift to the dance floors of the future. I asked Asna about the spirit of the time, the feeling of the youth in Abidjan. “The people are authentic,” she begins, “Plus it’s alive. It’s always in motion. There’s a lightness too. We don’t take things too seriously. With us there is nothing in a box, everything is to be done, everything is to be created, so we allow ourselves a lot of things.” 

With “Abissa” Asna has permitted herself plenty, opening the door to more creation, more hybridization; especially with the help of people like AnyoneID, a French producer and DJ known for his astonishing array of sounds, surprising blends and a musical “soul mate” according to Asna. 

We finished by talking about where this spirit is headed, and what we can expect next. “It’s my African identity and these stories that I want to tell,” Asna says. “And also I really want to explore. I’m sure there are horizons we haven’t explored yet in music.” She continues excitedly, “I swear there’s something inside me that tells me we haven’t explored everything yet. That’s what I’m looking for in the deeps. I break the rules until I can, maybe, like with the track Abissa, say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what I’ve been looking for. That’s what I’ve been looking for.

Find Asna in our afro + club playlist on Spotify and Deezer.

Stream “Abissa” and pre-save Nyamakala Beats #3.