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Introducing Hazem B, the latest addition to French‑Tunisian label Shouka

Wielding the influences of the mythical duo Bargou08, the traditional gasba or the powerful Techno culture that rages in the clubs around Tunis, the producer Hazem B, newly signed to Shouka, brings us his new single and video, Afrochawi.

It’s simple, as a DJ, the sounds I wanted to play didn’t exist. So I started to produce them.” A statement that illustrates perfectly the transition from the decks to the studio for Hazem B. Filmmaker in training, and still active by the way, you can find the Tunisian chief operator on many of our productions, including our latest docuseries, Off The Map. Hazem B was initiated to the decks in the 2010s. Then he began mixing for dancefloors at Yüka, a vast club located in the posh suburb of Tunis*: “I was born with Yüka. As a Dj and digger, it is there that I made my first weapons. Quickly, I found it difficult to renew my bass music sets.” And for good reason: Hazem essentially blends Afro-house with vocal choruses of the traditional Chaoui repertoire.

I like to navigate between a techno club culture and incursions into the Berbers, especially on the sounds that are played between Algeria and Tunisia. Quickly, I enriched House tracks with, for example, voices of popular Tunisian singers.” The DNA of the project Hazem B is thus structured.

Close to Nidhal Yahyaoui, half of the much-missed Bargou08 duo, formed at the time with producer Sofyann Ammar 808 Ben Youssef, Hazem then locked himself in the studio: “like many, I was hyper impressed and clearly under the influence of the Bargou08 duo. I wanted to abuse, to knead the vocal material of Nidhal who, moreover, was very generous in the studio,” confides the producer. The E.P. Afrochawi is the fruit of this collaboration with several strong hands, including those of the flutist Mohamed Ben Salha on the gasba, as well as the percussionist Abdoulaye Traore. 

The six-track release, composed of three originals and three remixes, Afrochawi is supported by an eponymous video for which Hazem B has donned his double hat, that of producer and director: “we went to Jerissa, in the north-west of Tunisia, to shoot” explains Hazem. “This mining town is almost a cross between Algeria and Tunisia, just like my music. The video features a young local dancer, who strolls in a hybrid choreography, between traditional dance steps and modern clubber gestures. I like this paradox, this telescoping of several worlds.”

The worlds of Hazem have naturally found refuge in the Franco-Tunisian Shouka, a label masterfully managed by producers Mettani and Khalil Epi. 

Afrochawi is out April 8th, 2022.

* Where, for example, the Tunisian Deena Abdelwahed held her Boiler Room in 2019.