DJ and producer Charisse C and interdisciplinary artist and vocalist Koek Sista form The Ascension, and share their self-titled debut EP out now on all good streaming platforms via Brixton-based label Don’t Sleep.
Welcome to The Ascension: the innovative duo containing globe-spanning touchpoints, from Zimbabwe to South Africa, London to New York, their pairing of elemental electronic production with cathartic vocal layerings is as radical as it is club-ready. On 20th October, they drop their debut self-titled EP, The Ascension, a project executive-produced by Charisse and recorded mostly in South Africa. The duo now take us on a 5-track sonic deepdive into their own blend of South African electronic music.
From ‘Khulula’, the spellbinding yet heavyweight debut single, inspired by a liberation lullaby Ulungile has always sung for her son. ‘I Said What I Said’ is an attitude-filled gqom track from outer space, and ‘The Portal’ is an asymmetrical wordless techy meditation that’s true to its trippy title, with abstract, distorted vocals, thumping bass and silvery synths that seem to transport you to a different galaxy entirely. ‘Kushruvira’ and ‘4EVA’ make up the rest of the project with that unmistakable sound they seamlessly blend throughout.The project is rooted in its origins, but expansive and experimental in its imagination.
Bonding over a shared passion for Southern African electronic music and the desire to push it beyond its current boundaries, DJ Charisse C connected with the performer Koek Sista during the pandemic. “Meeting Charisse was an anchor for me,” says Ulungile. “We have a lot of similarities in how we think about life and sisterhood and art and the place of Black women in creative industries, so that foundation was always there.” They began the journey of translating those values in a creative coalition with their explosive viral Boiler Room debut leading to a string of performances from the V&A to Fabric, Tate Modern to KOKO, Somerset House to the Southbank Centre.
On the creative pairing, Koek Sista: “Something we talk about is trying to change the perception of what an African person is supposed to be like,” says Ulungile. “there’s still very typical archetypes of how people imagine black women specifically to be… But actually strange black girls, we can do it too! And actually this is where all the sauce comes from.”
Born out of a desire to reimagine how the music of her sets could evolve and breathe new life into the live space, collaborating with performer Koek Sista to bring something more organic and fluid to a club setting felt like a natural yet exhilarating fit with DJ Charisse C who was burgeoning alongside the popularity of Amapiano within the London community. “I’d been thinking about having a live vocalist perform with me in a way that would be very much a part of the set and that was also artistic,” says Charisse. “And it just kind of clicked.” Clips of that set and the entranced crowds surrounding them have gained thousands of views across all platforms and launched the pair into a string of live appearances, before they’d even found a way to label what they do. With a sell-out Village Underground show and a spiritual monumental Brixton EP launch party, The Ascension have their sights set on the highest peaks of the electronic scene. Listen to the new EP HERE.
- I Said What I Said
- The Portal