“I just want to help these young artists like I wanted to be helped,” says Wantigga, a seasoned artist who has been shaping the music scene for over a decade. With roots in a churchgoing household filled with gospel, soul, and jazz, Wantigga’s musical journey has been anything but conventional. An autodidact, he taught himself to play several instruments before his passion pivoted towards electronic music and hip-hop. His latest release, “Don’t Call,” is a catchy number that seamlessly blends retro vibes with modern sensibilities, enriched by the soulful vocals of Amsterdam-based, Addis Ababa-born Neema Nekesa.
Wantigga is not just a producer and DJ; he’s also a mentor and educator, deeply committed to nurturing the next generation of artists. His personality is a blend of old-school wisdom and contemporary flair, making him a compelling figure in today’s rapidly evolving music landscape.
In our interview, Wantigga talks about his collaboration with Neema Nekesa, the inspiration behind his forthcoming EP, and his personal views into the evolving landscape of music communities.
Congratulations to your new release! Can you talk about your collaboration with Neema Nekesa? How did the two of you come together for this project?
It all started when I posted a story on my instagram asking for vocalists who were interested in working together. I wanted to have some ill r&b vocals to chop up and remix into my own style. Neema recorded a verse and a hook on an R&B track and sent me the acapella. I was chopping it up but wasn’t really feeling it so I left it alone for a while. After some time I revisited the project and sped it up from 100 to 120 bpm. Then I started the instrumental from scratch and decided to keep the vocals and hook how they were. Neema and I never met until we came together for a promo shoot. We clicked immediately.
The song is part of a forthcoming EP. Can you give us a sneak peek into what the rest of the tracks will sound like?
It’s going to touch the dance genres that inspired me to keep making music. UKG was always a big factor in my life so there’s that but all the tracks on the EP are made to play out as I DJ or play live. I try not to overthink my music too much, it just has to hit right.
You’re also planning to turn the EP into an audiovisual live show. What can fans expect from this experience?
It’s about the music first, I’m planning to bring out a lot of gear from my studio and recreate my music on stage. That’s scary as things might sound different than I’m used to, but I want people to feel some tension when I go up. The same tension and release that we artists feel when we write music. The live show is still developing as we speak, so I can’t give a lot of details yet.
“I try not to overthink my music too much, it just has to hit right.”
You’ve been in the music industry for a decade now. How have you seen the landscape change over the time?
Yeah I’m no newbie (laughs), when I started Wantigga me and my mates were deep into the early LA and UK beatscene. We were fixated on becoming part of this far away community and it felt we were the only ones feeling so deep for this music. We didn’t know where all the other heads were hanging out besides places like Rush Hour, a well-known record shop in Amsterdam or at the occasional live performance. Nowadays, I feel it’s a lot easier to feel connected with any kind of community. Just search a few hashtags and you can find a world of likeminds out there. To me, that’s really dope. The downside might be that people get satisfied too quickly, get bored soon and move on. That way, it’s hard to create a sustainable community outside of the mainstream ones you see thriving right now.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
My dad was a pastor, so there was a lot of christian music in the house every sunday. My brother used to make tapes that I could borrow from time to time. He listened to Daft Punk, Rage Against The Machine and other 90’s stuff that was on that moment. At highschool I discovered my love for hiphop and listened to east coast rap from the late 90’s. J Dilla has always been the main inspiration for me, I loved everything he did and I spent a lot of years studying his style of producing. Around the same time I was going to UK Garage & Drum n Bass parties. These genres are still a great influence for me.
“As I travel, I pick up bits and pieces and pass them on to communities in other cities.”
You’re also a music teacher at the Herman Brood Academy. My mum is a teacher aswell and loves to work with younger people. What fascinates you about this role?
Shoutout to all the teachers, man! I love teaching because it allows me to connect with young creatives at a deeper level than when I go out and DJ. When I started, I had no mentor guiding me. I had to figure everything out myself and I had to learn everything the hard way. Taught myself producing, writing, recording, engineering, managing, booking and made a lot of mistakes doing so. I just want to help these young artists like I wanted to be helped.
You’ve toured from Tokyo to Barcelona, experiencing audiences from diverse cultures. How do reactions to your music differ from city to city? I find this especially intriguing as I’ve sensed varying crowd energies depending on the cities when I’m out partying. (smiles)
(Laughs) Definitely big differences. Every city has the right crowd for the music I make and play, it’s the job of bookers and promoters to find them and get me there. It’s more of an adventure playing outside of Europe, also musically as the party crowd is used to different sounds. As I travel, I pick up bits and pieces and pass them on to communities in other cities.
How do you prepare for a live show, especially when incorporating modular synths, poly-synthesizers, and drum computers?
I’m racking my brain about this at the moment. Luckily I have some friends that have a lot of experience on this field. Right now, I’m trying to decide whether to incorporate Ableton into the set or go without it.
I saw on Instagram that your workspace looks incredibly inviting. How crucial is the interior design and overall vibe of the room to your creative process?
Can’t take all the credit for this (smiles). My girlfriend is an interior designer and she helps me a lot with this. Having a big window in my studio is the best thing I’ve ever had. We producers are used to working in small basements or bedrooms and good studio space is expensive. I feel blessed to have this place in my hometown Deventer. I’ve built it with friends and started a collective that focuses on sharing our knowledge and studio craft with our local community.
Can you recommend the best place to go out in the Netherlands?
Parallel in Amsterdam has a good vibe, with a garden in summertime. If I want to rave I would go to De School or Skatecafe.
Thank you so much for your time!