Talking Music + Life + Fashion With Baloji
Born in Congo, Baloji moved to Belgium with his father at the age of 3 and was unable to return home, due to a myriad of challenges, until 20 years later. In light of it all, Baloji embraces both his native home in Congo and his adopted home in Belgium. “I returned home after I received a heartfelt letter from my mom who I hadn’t seen in 20 years and that was the inspiration to go back home. Since then I try to go back 3-4 times a year.”
Baloji opened up to Heritage1960 about his life, music, and interpretation of fashion and style. So grab a glass of wine (and if it’s mid-day, we won’t judge you), kick your leg up, and let’s go to Congo, Belgium, and France…all via Heritage1960, Twitter, and Skype!
Music for me is a triangular experience.
I have been influenced by the 90’s Hip-Hop scene in the US. I could go on and name 20 artists or so, but you have people like NWA, Tribe Called Quest, The Beatnuts, and Scarface to name a few. From Hip-hop, you get by with samples to understand and appreciate soul, jazz, and 60’s R&B.
Now the European, or should I say French, way is about content. French people need to know what you are talking about and how it relates to their life experiences. For example, with French musicians like Brel, Souchon and all those guys, it’s more about what you are saying than how you make it sound.
Then we move on to the African influence, it’s more about feeling. Basic doesn’t mean simple, but African music is straight to the point, and the rhythm ALWAYS takes the lead. For example, when you hear Congolese percussion, you get the influence of Cuban and Brazilian rumba, and acoustic rhythm. Also, the idea of people recording their music organically is truly inspiring. I think soul music can sometimes lose it’s edge when you start doing overdubs and sampling songs of old school musicians solely in opposition of playing together and creating a unique blend!
ON PERSONAL STYLE:
“When people see me in Congo, they think I am crazy.
However, in the western world, people think it’s cool.”
My personal style is simple, easygoing, often lazy and fun. When people see me in Congo, they think I am crazy. However, in the western world, people think it’s cool.
Fashion is always moving. It’s a cycle – always repeating itself but adding some “air du temps” elements to it. For example, marinière with sebago’s [sailor style with boat shoes] was Picasso’s favorite outfit!
I love shoes, and tailored custom made shirts. That is something that always makes you comfortable…and always looks good. It may look like a privilege, or extra fancy, but it makes a huge difference between that and a polo shirt for the same price.
I’ve always loved the 60-70 pictures of YSL that you can see in the work of Tom Ford and Victor and Rolf. I’m a big fan of Belgium designers like Kris Van Assche and BYT. They reinvent the same things in different ways, but have found ways to keep it classic.
Whereas in African fashion, I love the colors, the prints, and the collage. It almost looks like a deliberate mistake, but shows true artistry brought to life.
I am influenced by street wear as well. For example, 7 years ago Sean Jean was doing lumberjack shirts. Today it has become the Williamsburg dress code. This was already done with chino pants on the streets. People criticize hip-hop, but this dress code has become cliché.
“Clothing you can change; but style, elegance, and grace come naturally.”
The way she reinvents herself, the way she carries herself. It is easy for her to have style, but it is better to have grace.
I am attracted to a woman that knows how to carry her neck and shoulders graciously. It’s all about the body posture! It says a lot about a woman and her level of confidence.
Also, how kept her fingers and hands are. Both of these factors to me show the elegance in a woman.
Clothing you can change, but style, elegance, and grace come naturally and that is what makes a woman attractive and appealing.
“I am spoilt, I don’t travel light.
One must-have travel item? I am spoilt, I don’t travel light. Can I please have 2 things?
[Ha! I feel you...sure.]
First is my pick for my hair. I’m lazy with my hair. I never get time to work on my fro. That’s why I like those Iverson braids too.
The 2nd must have item is one of my custom made shirts. They always look fresh and clean. I love how the tailored cut of the neck, the arm, and the couture fits.
Maybe I should say the combo of my deodorant and parfum. I’ve found a pair that doesn’t annihilate the scent of one another.
I know. I’m cheating :)
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT…
BALOJI TALKS MUSIC + LIFE + FASHION WITH HERITAGE1960!
IF YOU COULD ASK HIM ANYTHING,
WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW?
“African music is straight to the point
and the rhythm ALWAYS takes the lead.”