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Label Owner, DJ, Musician, Paris

William Essef is a millennial incarnation of the renaissance man.

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Parisian tastemaker William Essef has his digits in more pies than an octopus in a bakery. Most know him as Bamao Yende, an artist alias he uses for releasing music; music he describes as “a mix between garage, afro-beat, sometimes RnB, house... I dunno, it’s a huge milkshake of influences, from DJ Arafat to Kerri Chandler through to Matt Houston.” He’s also running Boukan Records and is an ongoing member of Parisian collective YGRK Klub. In essence, he’s a millennial incarnation of the age old renaissance man.

Essef was born in Reims but grew up in Cergy, a suburb on the northern outskirts of Paris. “Cergy is far enough from Paris to be detached from it, but still able to benefit from the appeal and the vibe of the big city,” he explains. “We can be banlieusards [a word denoting those who live in the house projects outside of the city centre] and Parisians when we want, but first and foremost we are banlieusards.”

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When he was younger, Essef was a piano student at the Paris Conservatoire for around 8 years, but after meeting friends in Cergy who were experimenting with computer-generated sounds, his ambitions changed. “I knew right then that I wanted to create something, deal my own stuff.” He joined the YGRK Klub and soon his first song, “Chaleur”, was being released via Red Bull Studio.

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His sound is difficult to pinpoint, due to its mind-melting richness. The Bamao Yende releases have been an absorbing and joyous concoction of bass music, grime, UK garage, house, and African influences, whereas a forthcoming new project under the name Afumbwe will focus more on r’n’b. “I like to write about love and flirting,” explains Essef. “I’m a really romantic kind of guy. Emotions and feelings have a super important place in my life.”

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The winter, he tells me, will be a hard graft to ensure that an assault of new music rains down on 2018, not just his own, but also new releases on Boukan Records and a variety of club nights. He’s even got a New Year’s resolution to help him make sure that happens – “Stop procrastinating,” he says, “and start respecting deadlines.”