— What were some of the music projects you were involved with before 2021? And how did your experience with them (both negative and positive) shape the sound and songwriting of Batila today?
— Uuh, this question is a tough one. Well, I worked in quite a few projects but in the last four years I was more or less getting ready for TATAMANA, spiritualy and musicaly. But nevertheless I, for example, toured with the jazz combo Mop Mop. An amazing jazz band with crazy talented musicians like Pasquale Mirra and Alex Trebo. They booked me as a front man and we performed great venues and festivals like the Macki Music Festival or the Kaliningrad City Festival. But along the tour I realised that I want to be on tour with my own stuff. I was unsatisfied within, despite outstanding feedback and love from the audience everywhere we performed. This also pushed more and more to TATAMANA. I also recorded quite a number of songs in German and performed as Ange da Costa in different formation but singing in German and the kind of songs I was writing was like I was trying to please the German audience who didn't really accept.
At that time I was a black man singing in perfect German but with melodies that were not really German. I was not singing like the German singers most of who sounded the same to me when it came to soul music. Besides that, I had the feeling that not singing in my mother tongue was taking away something from me. I did it for quite some time though and knocked on different doors but didn't get the acknowledgement and appreciation I was expecting. I mean the production was on point, working with producers like David Vogt from the Beatgees or Andre Boadu from Keine Musik. At the end of the day it all didn't feel right.
My songwriting was the strongest when I didn't want have to follow rules and didn't feel the pressure of the industry on how a song should sound. But I mos def learned a lot during the time. This all made me understand how I didn't want my music to sound like. I needed to fall back to my roots, to my beginnings, my voice, my language, my culture and my own understanding of music.
Oh, and I forgot to mention a projects Congo Crew, a bunch of young Congolese rappers rapping in lingala. That was, like, 2005. We released one album but didn't get the full exposure in Germany and besides that guys just wanted become famous without a strong vision. It was fun though. Crazy beats and mad rhymes in lingala. But at that time Afrobeats was not that cool among the vast population. Since Obama Africa and Africans became more trendy somehow... Can I say that... I am not a trend, I am not cool, but mos def stylish and soulful on my own terms.
Another project I took part in is 1884, a big band with African musicians from the diaspora. It was dope and opened my eyes. It was initiated by the Werkstatt der Kulturen. They brought together musicians like Dizzy Mandjeku ( guitarist of TPOK Jazz) and Bibi Hammond (bass player and producer for Waldemar Basto) to musicaly discuss colonialism and its consequences. This pushed me more and more to my spiritual journey for TATAMANA. But at the end of the day all my projects shaped me. All of them. I learned a lot and grew and became more conscious about myself.
And did I mention that Papa Wemba also asked me to write for him. Unfortunately the song got never released. It's a beautiful ballad. Would have loved to sing with that man.