A love affair with Henrik Schwarz and his African-influenced deep house

Published on Thursday 18 August 2022

Get to know Henrik Schwarz ahead of his live set on 28th August

While some artists in dance music focus solely on club-orientated sounds, Henrik Schwarz followed a more multi-faceted approach to his craft. His work as a music producer and composer means he can smoothly blend disparate textures and weave notes of anything from jazz to techno into his DJ sets and live sessions. As cliche as it sounds, the German producer is truly one of a kind.

Skimming over Schwarz's extensive body of work can initially seem a little overwhelming. He's released several EPs and albums tracing back to 2002, and remixes for acclaimed names like Coldplay and James Brown run through his discography. That's something you don't see too often in the world of dance music, but Schwarz is a storied producer—one of the reasons why his versatile productions feel far from trend-driven and display a timeless quality.

One genre Schwarz regularly channels is African-influenced deep house, and his connection with the aesthetic is a personal one. In an interview with Resident Advisor in 2007, he referred to African-influenced sounds as "close to the source of where music comes from—it brings us all together. I have a feeling that if you hit the drum in a certain rhythm, you touch a certain group of people in the same way; and I think these African roots bring people together because it's where we all come from in a way."

Arguably, Schwarz's remixes reflect his African-flavoured stylings the most, compared to his original melodic house and electronica vibes on Mood Music, Mule Musiq and his own Sunday Music Records imprint. Take his remix of KEENE and Kaleta's afro house tune 'Ayessi' on Cacao Records. Schwarz's version still maintains the sunny energy that KEENE and Kaleta lace throughout the track, but Schwarz makes it feels a little more dancefloor-driven. Perfect for listening in nature, whether alone or in the midst of a heaving forest party.

Schwarz also remixed WAHM ft. Index Nuul Kukk's track 'Destiny' released on the label Frau Blau. Tribal percussion dominates the track, and Schwarz adds a few magical touches that merge electronica with afro house to pen a poignant peak-time tune.

Beyond the remix realm, Schwarz co-produced the African-influenced deep house creation 'Chagu' with MoBlack, released on Defected. It features spoken word narration by South Sudanese-Canadian artist Emmanuel. He narrates in English and Nuer (Thok Naath)—a language from South Sudan and western Ethiopia—nodding to African-rooted dialects. It's a sublime blend of organic percussive sounds, uplifting synth lines and a throbbing bassline, stamped with Schwarz's elegant sound design.

Ahead of his live set on 28th August, check out Schwarz at Cathédrale de Chartres in France, providing a taster of what’s to come in the Warehouse. He joins us in the best of company with Âme, Jimi Jules and more.