Krip Hop Interviews WOMEX World Music Festival

root - Posted on 20 December 2009

by Leroy Moore/Illin n chillin

Krip-Hop Nation: When and where is the festival?

Anna Pötzsch: – The World Music Expo – takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark from Wednesday, 28 October – Sunday, 1 November.

Krip-Hop Nation: How old is the festival?

Anna Pötzsch: The first edition of WOMEX took place in Berlin in 1994 – this year's edition is our fifteenth!

Krip-Hop Nation: How many countries are represented?

Anna Pötzsch: Last year we had over 2800 delegates from around 90 countries.

Krip-Hop Nation: World music encompasses everything from traditional to avant-garde and from acoustic to electronic. What kinds of music are represented?

Anna Pötzsch: The term "world music" is not a musical definition. It was introduced in the late eighties to help market "music from 'outside' Western pop culture" (

Krip-Hop Nation: When and how do you look for artists?

Anna Pötzsch: We send out a call for proposals at the beginning of every year. This year we received over 760 proposals submitted online via Sonicbids. A jury of 7 people then works on the selection for the WOMEX Showcase Festival. More on
And on

Krip-Hop Nation: Describe the award ceremony and the award.

Anna Pötzsch of : Last year for the first time we decided to present not only one but two WOMEX Awards, one to an artist, and the other to honour an educational institution. The award ceremony on Sunday 1 Nov 12:00 will consist of honorific speeches, congratulating the winners on stage as well as presentations of their work either through a film (> institution) or through a 45-minute showcase (> artist). The WOMEX Award statuette was created at a time when there was no such thing as Asia or Europe, black or white, First World or Third. The Award figurine is an ancient mother goddess statue dating back about 6000 years to the Neolithic age. It was found in Haçilar in modern-day Turkey and bears witness to the existence of a matriarchal society. Such a female goddess appears in many ancient mythologies as an initial primal figure, representing fertility and procreation either as the earth itself or as a mother giving birth to the world and all the creatures in it.
Supporting musical creativity and fertility, it is only fitting that the mother of all and everything serves as the symbol for our tributes in the name of the WOMEX Award.

Krip-Hop Nation

: How does the work and message of Staff Benda Bilili (SBB) connect with the festival?

Anna Pötzsch: WOMEX seeks to recognize those who set the highest standards in world culture, who articulate not only in their music, but in their very lives, the richest values of our community," says WOMEX General Director Gerald Seligman. "Our yearly Award is neither lifetime achievement nor, necessarily, recognition of popularity. It is our chance to try to echo the motivations, the dedication, the principles and priorities of the artists and professionals who dedicate their lives to world music. In every way, Staff Benda Bilili sets the standard for such an objective. And there is an added value to awarding them for, in many ways, it is also the resilience of the Congo itself that we honour in recognizing SBB. The Congo has always been a musical powerhouse of Africa, supplying us with so many of that vast continent's greatest artists. It's so good to see the Congo back. And it's so wonderful that it should be back in the form of Staff Benda Bilili."

Krip-Hop Nation: Is this your first time having disabled musicians at the festival?

Anna Pötzsch: It is the first time that WOMEX presents a group with several wheelchairs on stage.

Krip-Hop Nation: By awarding Staff Benda Bilili, did you have to work on accessibility issues?

Anna Pötzsch: We always do our best to give disabled delegates access to our event. We have never had a band on stage though whose majority is disabled and uses wheelchairs – this is a new challenge for us. We will certainly have to work on the backstage facilities, stage access, etc, but are optimistic to get that solved.

Krip-Hop Nation: Do you think that the music industry have a lot to learn from Staff Benda Bilili?

Anna Pötzsch: What strikes most about Staff Benda Bilili is their immense creativity and courage. Out of a very challenging situation, being homeless and disabled in Kinshasa in "one of the largest and most dysfunctional cities in Africa" (Andy Morgan in Songlines April/May 2009), they have managed to launch a promising international career in music. The music industry itself is and has been in a very difficult situation with the old business model breaking down and the new ones still being figured out and/or their affectivity tested. What many companies need to survive this crisis is exactly what Staff Benda Bilili is so brilliant at: being creative and courageous in all respects.


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