In 2009 a voice materialized from the windswept void of the California desert. At once haunting and oddly welcoming, it hasn’t been your mind playing tricks on you, it’s Gonjasufi.
Combining international psychedelia and the new-school beat diaspora, Gonjasufi’s dark songwriting, affecting vocals and street-mystic vibe will leave an indelible mark.
Under his Gonjasufi alias, San Diego-born, Las Vegas-based yoga teacher Sumach Valentine has been called many things – “hip-hop mystic”, “nomad soul”, even “Method Man aged 95” – but it’s the “electro Hendrix” tag that will suffice for now.
Gonjasufi | The Blame
“Jimi Hendrix sacrificed himself to get humanity to a higher frequency; he’s perfection to me,” enthuses the 32-year-old down the line, in the scraggy, smoked-out drawl that colours his debut album A Sufi And A Killer.
“I had a dream one time that I was at an outdoor Hendrix concert and all of a sudden, as Jimi walked towards the stage, our eyes locked, man. It was just fucking intense. Intense. When I woke up, I felt like he was checking on me, like, ‘Hey, I’m watching you bro.'”
Gonjasufi | Kowboyz & Indians
Born to a Mexican mother and an American-Ethiopian father and raised in a predominantly white neighbourhood in San Diego, Sumach’s cultural and spiritual leanings are broader than most, yet he’s as difficult to pin down as his music. How important is Islamic spirituality and the Sufism of the title to his music?
“I’m just a regular guy who’s gone through a lot of shit,” he says. “The Sufi side of life has helped me with my killer side so I try not to attach myself to any label. There’s a Sufi and a killer in everybody, man, and I’ll be whatever I have to be just to make it through.”
Gonjasufi | Duet
Sufi says about himself: “I’m fuckin’ happy, man. I find my happiness in teaching yoga. Like there’s something about rendering service to humanity that at the end of the day I feel fulfilled, man, because I’m giving to people. It’s beyond shit.
The music, like, comes from me teaching and I almost forgot that shit until I started teaching again. I can teach the rest of my life and be completely happy, you know, never put out another record again and be happy. They’re one and the same, man. In order for me to be happy with my life, I have to teach yoga.”
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 | 20:30 CET
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