- Josh Crowe
Ramses3000 collaborates with African vocalists on debut album Nadja
Dutch producer and multi-disciplinary artist, Yannick Verhoeven, has spent years refining his craft in the music industry. Whether it be as part of the music collective: Cairo Liberation Front, or founding his own festival called Eurabia, he’s proved himself to be visionary in alternative dance music and honing an ability to find hidden talents across the Middle East and Africa. Now, under his Ramses3000 solo alias, the artist is set to release his debut album Nadja – named after André Breton’s iconic novel centred around the French surrealist movement.
The book’s impact on the artist comes from its description of surrealism as a way of life. Constantly blurring the lines between dream and reality, Verhoeven found a world in which his creative endeavours can call home. With this project his ambition was to let go of all expectations and ideas and see where such an improvised approach would lead to. And so the album was born – placing the artist’s love for art, travel, and collaboration at its core.
Originally from the industrial city of Tilburg, Verhoeven was keen to escape the norms of western culture in the pursuit of making something totally different. It was an approach he took from his studies of early surrealists, who took inspiration from non-Western cultures, as they identified themselves as anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist. Such a venture saw the artist end up in Sierra Leonne, working with a selection of vocalists that added an unexpected dose of magic. It was an experience that rekindled past friendships and created new ones and by the end, Nadja represented a family of like-minded individuals all pulling in the same direction. Verhoeven harnessed this energy into the album’s production on his return to the Netherlands. After much experimentation, the artist settled upon a sonic palette that was diverse and left-field, delving into the realms of afrobeat, breakbeat, and nu-jazz. It’s a journey through cultures and electronic genres alike that comfortably embraces the dancefloor whilst incorporating a bucketful of funk and groove that sounds equally as enticing at home or whilst driving.
In total, Nadja see’s seven incredibly talented collaborators bring their own aesthetic to the table and those artists were instrumental in guiding Verhoeven to his final vision. Sierra Leone rappers Mash P and Vinel deliver an enigmatic vocal display on the feel-good ‘One By One’, whilst fellow countryman Chen B features on ‘Avida Dollars’ a track that’s dripping in groove. French writer and poet Maud Sztern adds an element of mystery on the three tracks in which she features and opens the albums narrative on ‘Enchantement’ where she recites lines from Breton’s novel. Ugandan rapper Swordman Kitala helps close out the album with a bang on ‘Tukaba’ with a dose of pure energy – a beautifully enticing display of African music. It’s a track that’s already becoming a favourite amongst tastemakers, featuring at Coachella during a Dixon b2b Solomun set.
This album also marks the first time Verhoeven has used his own vocals, notably on tracks ‘At Ease’ and ‘Citadelle’ adding yet another layer to his artistry. Both single’s see the artist at his most personal, inspired by his time working with GZA - Healthcare for Asylum Seekers – and the heart-breaking conversations he’d have with children who faced immense challenges due to language barriers, causing them to take on responsibilities of adults and sadly grew up overnight. It gave him a unique insight to the current refugee crisis and the bureaucratic system of the Netherlands that he felt empowered to share.
Verhoeven views his creative output as an immersive story he’s translating not only through his music but also visually – most notably through Nadja’s artwork. Alongside the creation of the album, he’s also been an avid collage artist over the last two years, a process he’s found inspiring as it had the potential to create new worlds, an aspect that fuelled his musical endeavours. Outside of music, his artwork has gained notoriety, and earlier this year he had his first exposition called ‘Enchantment’, displayed at De Nieuwe Vorst, Tilburg. Further expositions will see Verhoeven’s artwork travel to Utrecht in September and then to Breda in January 2023.
Nadja redefines what dance music can be in a manner where genres are ignored and instead replaced by free-minded creativity. For Verhoeven under his Ramses3000 alias, it marks his most important release to date and one that showcases him to be a truly rare entity. In reaching out to so many collaborators within Africa, the artist has shone a light on a vastly under-represented part of the world and brings a sound to Europe that’s long been ignored.