Auntie Flo on Radio Highlife and his live show

Scottish export Auntie Flo tells us what to expect from his collaborative Radio Highlife live shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh this month

Feature by Claire Francis | 23 Nov 2018
  • Auntie Flo

DJ, producer and musician Brian d’Souza – aka Auntie Flo – released his latest album Radio Highlife in October, sharing its name with his popular radio show on Worldwide FM which explores the best dance sounds from around the world. Fittingly, the new record is the culmination of "seven years of wild travelling, serendipitous encounters, deeply personal moments" comprised of 14 tracks with field recordings and studio sessions from Cuba, Cape Town, Bali, Russia, Istanbul, Senegal, Norway, the UK and beyond.

Born in Glasgow to parents of Kenyan and Goan heritage, d’Souza has been a key figure in the city’s club scene as founder and resident DJ of the popular Highlife parties and with previous releases on Glasgow imprint Huntley & Palmers. This month, he will bring the Radio Highlife live show to Glasgow’s Sub Club and Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s. “I’m back in Glasgow quite a lot, but still miss it,” he says of his hometown. “I really miss the people, the banter, the spirit of the place. Having travelled the world, I really believe Glasgow has a unique character that is very special. I miss walking down the street, bumping into someone and having a chat.”

Being such a seasoned traveller has opened d’Souza’s ears to sounds from across the globe which inform his radio show and his own productions. He explains the significance radio has had on his travels, being in many instances the first introduction to the local music of a place. “I think it is for all of us, taxis and public transport will often be playing it whether we want to listen or not. For me radio is about telling stories – the best thing is playing music and then telling a story about why – what makes it special, where it was discovered, who made it. It’s that context that opens up a whole new dimension to the music,” he says.

Likewise, the people d’Souza met while on the road became important collaborators in the making of Radio Highlife. The track Mame’s Story details the difficulties faced in obtaining a visa for Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Mame Ndiack to perform and record with d’Souza in the UK. We ask whether it looks likely Ndiack will be able to join the planned live shows, and d’Souza responds: "I’m gonna say YES.

"We’ve applied for a visa for him and he’d already been playing as part of the European shows we’ve been doing as warm-ups for the UK tour. You never know in this day and age if visa applications are going to be successful though – we recently had [Turkish DJ] Zozo not allowed in to play our stage at Kelburn Garden Party, only eight months after she had been allowed in with exactly the same application! Fingers and toes crossed it works out for Mame.”

He continues: “The live show really takes the album in a new direction. We started with the songs on the album as the basis for the tracks but Yohan [Kebede, keyboardist] and Mame are so talented they really have room to flourish. It means the tracks take on a whole new meaning that really makes the live show unique.”

Another collaborator on Radio Highlife is Golden Teacher drummer Laurie Pitt, with whom d’Souza crafted the track Western Princes. When we mention that Golden Teacher’s No Luscious Life is one of our favourite albums of the past 12 months, d’Souza responds enthusiastically: “Mine too! It was album of the month on my first Radio Highlife show on Worldwide FM. I’m definitely a fan.

"I can’t remember how I first met Laurie but we started working together in 2016 when I asked him to perform on a few Sun Ritual live shows we did that summer. Laurie is a free spirit and I really admire his warmth and general up-for-it-ness!”

For now, d’Souza is focused on the upcoming live shows, but it appears future travel – and future musical plans – are never far from his mind. We ask him, of all the places you visited while crafting the album, which one would you most like to return to?

“I loved my time in Tromsø in the Arctic Circle, there’s something about cold places in the wilderness that really draws me to them,” he reveals. “Last time I was there I was chatting with our host (DJ and producer) Charlotte Bendiks, who was telling me about her Sami ancestry and how it would be amazing to record some of their traditional music. I’d love to have an opportunity to go back there to do that.”

Radio Highlife is out now via Brownswood Recordings
Auntie Flo plays Sub Club, Glasgow, 1 Dec; Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, 2 Dec