Resident Focus: OJOO GYAL
Hailing originally from Morocco but now based in Brussels, OJOO GYAL has fast made a name for herself as a selector operating in a world entirely her own making. Her approach to DJ'ing is uniquely hers, drawing from a wide selection of influences from Coil to Autechre, Memphis Rap and the bustling streets of her hometown.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are in the world, one fun fact about yourself?O
Manal here, 25, been on Noods since July 2020, and I fucking hate my name cus it has an*l in it; people never remember it, but they mostly do when I mention this to them.
How are you spending your days at the moment?O
I’m currently trying to find a balance between music, university and my part-time job. The energy boost I got since relocating to Brussels in October 2021 is immense, but it’s hard to do the 3 simultaneously. However, whenever I have some free time, I love hanging out at Parc, where Kiosk Radio is located. It’s such a nice spot and a vital pillar of the Brussels scene. Having to start my social life from scratch last year was made easy thanks to Kiosk!
Otherwise, my all-time fav gathering will forever be having friends at home, impromptu b2bs, cooking a nice dinner, and then baking some sort of cake together whilst listening to music.
Favourite thing to hear in nature?O
Tricky question because when I first read it, my first thought was water, but it’s such a boomer answer, and I don’t know where it comes from. But then, the second thought was about this book from R. Murray Schafer called “The Soundscape: our sonic environment and the tuning of the world.” The book is all about the noises surrounding us, with chapters about how they’re appreciated, their classifications, the purpose of their usage, the legislation’s take on noise in different countries, and more.
This just makes me think of the noisy environment I grew up around, in my hometown, Meknes, where our house is located is in the middle of a market. Having a window on the streets, I used to wake up to merchants shouting from the bottom of their lungs “mosca banane”, “avocat 20dh”, or whatever the closest person to the window was selling. There were also sounds of poultry crates being smashed on the floor, chicken clucks, and sometimes even fights (ok, this does happen very often) or the hashish smell occupying the room whenever I sleep with an open window.
I don’t mean that any of these noises are bad, I didn’t enjoy all of it when I was there, but it was what I grew up to, my kind of “normal” and what I got used to throughout the years. Honestly, this is something I miss, because the part of Brussels where I live now is nothing like it. It’s super quiet— I know I’m really home when I wake up to those sounds.
I realise now that this is too long and it doesn’t really answer the question: I think I’ll stick to water sounds, lmao. This show on the radio can be a witness, as it includes loads of field recordings of water, or just sounds/tracks that remind me of it.
What album do you jump to when all else fails?O
Oh shit, another tricky question. This one has changed a lot over the years haha. Funny thing, I never thought that I'd be listening to rai at home before I moved here, but now, whenever all else fails… here’s what I do.
This one is a classic, rai is amazing because it’s a time for North African men to show their weaknesses, and I think it’s beautiful
This one is funny because of the rap part that’s in english, I relate to it so fucking much.
This one in particular because a close friend of mine in Morocco showed it to me 2 years ago, and it was this super low-quality video of this teenager singing in the most broken/emotional way about her lover, with lyrics like “congratulations for your wedding, and my agony”…….. I couldn’t find this version, but here’s an HQ one that just got uploaded to youtube a year ago.
It’s funny because I used to be unconsciously exposed to rai all of the time when I was in Morocco, which is not the case here: It’s the lack of proximity and exposure that made all of this happen haha.
On the flip side, what happens frequently is that I'll just listen to this Lady Dead tune on repeat. I remember doing it during train rides back in the day. At some point I started listening to it slowed down and started writing down the lyrics.
I remember the first time I went to Europe to play at a festival 3 years ago, I looked up the tune and another version popped out that I was never able to find in Morocco because it’s geographically restricted content: that’s when I realised that it got remastered and re-released by Evil Pimp and Krucifix Klan. Lady Dead hasn't released anything new since the 90s, making her the most mysterious rapper I have ever encountered.
But I think that all of the above are wrong answers, as they're not whole albums. Here are some more accurate answers:
If I'm in a “shut the fuck up” mood, I’d say Oversteps by Autechre. as an album, it’s just beautiful, simple and complex at the same time. I just want to hug a pillow and listen to it from start to finish. My ex-best friend used to call it a “period album”. Our cycles used to be synced, and we’d just binge-listen to it the whole day. “known 1”, “treale” or “see on see” can express this a thousand times better than words
Anything Coil can also join this list.
What is inspiring you outside of music right now?O
This is outside of music but within music at the same time…
I'd say that the people I get to meet while touring are the most significant source of inspiration ever. I'm still not over how resourced and happy I felt after I met the people behind Planeta Za and AnkalI in Prague. Especially Maary and Linh, the all-night-long chats with Helione from Positive Education in Paris, reuniting with Brootworth in Munich after 5 years and getting to discover Radio80k’s home base. Or, how special it felt to share beers and conversations in Berlin with Kristen from God69, Ishan Sound, Popon and Ossia, all in the same table <3
Dream retirement regime, set the scene?O
That’s too far, I still gotta work like a dog and global warming will get rid of us before I reach retirement.
So maybe it’s gonna be an after-party in hell with DJ Ape & DJ Oa$is’ Sleng Again & Again locked groove playing in repeat in the background, sharing Js with satan.
What's your process when preparing a mix?O
I'm someone who’s super messy and I can’t get to work before the deadlines are pressing, so the hardest time for me is always the beginning. It’s funny because there’s no recurring or systematic pattern while prepping, I know I don’t want to repeat myself a lot tho, so in my process, I'm more likely going to put some constraints on myself, like following a theme or a certain mood, but only for some mixes.
Now that I think of it, it’s really random - sometimes it’s what i’ve been digging in that period, or I'll just decide out of the blue to just play tunes that I’ve been rinsing over the years, just for the sake of it. I still feel that I need to do more non-club mixes, it’s the music I listen to the most, I'm surprised it doesn't happen too often.
Also, learning how to do mixes on Ableton saved my ass a lot, especially as gear is not something we’re exposed to a lot in morocco. I thought of renting CDJs with my friends to record mixes many times, but who has the money to do it every time there’s a mix to record? Ableton mixes can be really painful too, I dreamt of a jog wheel several times while working on mixes lol, but tbh I ain’t complaining.
You’re about to do a seance, what song is cleansing you?O
Deffo this lol
What song is playing at your funeral?O
I'm sorry but it has to be this.
If you could have anyone around for dinner, who would it be, what would you cook and what song are you listening to?O
Like right now? Benjamin Netanyahu, tied to a chair, no food allowed, and this tune from The Rootsman & Muslimgauze at maximum volume.
Make sure you go check OJOO Gyal over on her Soundcloud and Instagram and don't forget to check her for us on the archive!