WILLEMSTAD – The latest crop of Dutch – Antillean Hip Hop artist is emerging with an unapologetic gumption that is redefining the Dutch and Curaçao music scenes. A multicultural hybrid of seductive Afro Caribbean flavors combined with a gritty European ghetto punch is taking urban music to the next level. Creating a name as one of the hottest producers in the game, Zurich Musiq are behind some of the most popular Dutch Hip Hop acts like Broederliefde, Jonna Fraser, and Keizer.
And the big bosses are taking notice. In May, Zurich Musiq signed a distribution and production deal with famed Dutch Hip Hop label Top Notch. Zurich Musiq consists of the talented duo Nillion Davilo née Nilomar Francisca and Soundflow née Milangelo ‘Junior’ Martina, the masterminds behind the megahit Alaka, which was recently named Song of the Year by the FunX Awards.
Tapping into their Curaçao Roots
The boys of Zurich Musiq have maintained strong ties with Curaçao and were recently on the island for a writing session a few local artists. “There are many talented artists from Curaçao that have come to our attention. “The boys of Area 51, Mason, Chaika, and of course Muisje Muis are extremely talented”, Nillion explained. Their love of music was most definitely shaped by their Curaçao roots. Soundflow was born in Rotterdam, however lived in Curaçao briefly at the age of 8. “I don’t come from a musical family, but they would always listen to Come Back and Gospel music”, he shared. Nillion was also born in Rotterdam and never lived in Curaçao either, however he did grow with a strong Krioyo identity. “My mother sang in church and my father played in a band, and later on, I inherited some of his instruments”, Nillion shared.
Creating Zurich Musiq
The boys grew up, together with their manager Jalal Mouloudi, in the same Hoogvliet neighborhood and have known each other for more than a decade. Back then, Nillion was working in a studio and knew Soundflow, who was attending music school, through his brother. “Nillion was already making beats and I wanted to learn. It started in his room and he taught me on Fruity Loops”, Soundflow explained. After graduating from the VMBO, Soundflow decided to study music, but didn’t finish the four year program. “I am glad that I had this formation. The knowledge I acquired during that period, I’m still able to apply to this day”, Soundflow shared. Growing up, they’d listen to a lot of rap and R&B music, which definitely influenced the type of music that they currently make. They both admire producers like Dr. Dre, Timbaland, 40, Just Blaze and Scott Storch, and dreamt of making their hobby into a profession. “We are producers that can actually play an instrument”, Nillion assured. Their collaboration also happens rather organically and is never forced. “You do need two open minded people that are willing to work together. If somebody is too sensitive about his work, then that process becomes a bit difficult”, manager Jalal Mouloudi chimed in. They describe their process as creatively playing with music and sound. “We feed off each other and don’t wait until the other comes up with something”, Soundflow explained. “We go with the vibe, it’s more like a jam session”, Nillion added. The result speaks for itself, where Zurich Music have produced gems like ‘Zeg Me’ and ‘Narcos’ by Broederliefde, ‘Hard Work Pays Off‘ by SBMG, ‘Do or Die’ by Jonna Fraser.
Taking it to the next level
They have noticed some significant changes in the urban and hip hop scenes in the Netherlands, however after a after a long pause, the gentlemen emphasized that there is still a long road ahead. “We are noticing that Hip Hop is more appreciated by the mainstream”, Soundflow explained. “Hip Hop is nowadays getting airplay on stations like Radio 538 and others, because they also noticed that Hip Hop can’t be ignored or avoided”, he added. The producers also love diversity and want to create their own sound and declared to be over popular trends like Trap music. “We don’t focus on the money or follow trends”, Nillion explained. “If you broaden your scope to Pop and R&B, than you reach a larger audience and get more airplay”, Nillion shared. In the near future, Zurich Musiq also hopes to release their own mix tape, which will feature many amazing artists. With the Top Notch partnership, Zurich Musiq’s larger vision is to continue to cultivate talents like Moses, singer Hennen and entertainer Remses ‘Muisje Muis’ Rafaela.