The name Umoja is a swahili word meaning unity; the spirit of togetherness a philosophy shared by the two producers. Umoja has over a decade of experience dishing out warm dusty grooves. The duo is part of the Amsterdam-based Ini Movement, a collective of creative entrepreneurs.
The conception of umoja is an organic evolution between two humble groove aficionados whose path crossed over half a decade ago. Both Sjef and Job were born and bred in the commuting town of haarlem in the Netherlands. Their musical partnership took off when they collectively built a studio in a massive loft which was then occupied by Sjef Rolet. The studio became known as the pigeon hole, with a spin off late-night radio show. Sjef was at this period more aligned with hip-hop/beat oriented productions while job was into trip hop/electronic productions. But they shared a similar trait: an intrinsic appreciation and an understanding of world rhythm, the mechanisms of groove and contemporary electronic beats.
Regardless of their shared interests the two had yet to collaborate; this was soon to change. In the summer of 2011, Sjef’s and Jobs’ individual projects were in hibernation at that time and they were both experimenting with sounds from afro-beat and world music traditions. These experimentations later came to be known as the ‘after-pigeon late-night sessions’. The birth of Umoja had arrived. Resulting of after-pigeon late-night sessions was the “Jekalo!” Ep. The ep constituted 6 tracks pivoting around eccentric afro-beat tracks inspired by west African funk from the 70s. Je-ka-lo! As a record was subconsciously crafted as a prologue to Umoja, and simultaneously as an epilogue to the pigeon studios era. At the time of its release, Umoja was merely a side project for the two hyperactive producers.
An attempt to categorically pin down the sound of Umoja is only but a pipe dream. In the spirit of Umoja, Sjef’s and Jobs’ approach to music is to unify grooves across the seven oceans, one record at a time. With a well-received record under its belt, Umoja went back into the studio to work on a new record. Eleven months later they present Vuelo Nocturno, the duo’s sophomore record. Vuelo Nocturno is a beat-oriented cumbia record oscillating between Columbian & Mexican sounds, percussion driven and with the rich palletes, dubbed & well-crafted effects.