Populous is the pseudonym of a music producer named Andrea Mangia.
His new album is “W” – it stands for “Women” and is popular in global pop. It also provides cutting between electronic music, cumbia digital and vogueing.
A tribute to women that have influenced him in his life; women who sing, write, compose and play, W is a celebration of femininity beyond stereotypes and a response to the macho uniformity dominant in the music industry. Each track features collaboration between Populous and some of his favourite female artists. It’s also the first time that Populous has expressed his sexuality, as a gay man, through his eclectic branches of global electronica, house, digital cumbia and vogue beat, which has in his words, ‘helped me to become 100% free’.
The list of collaborators include: Sobrenadar, Kaleema, Sotomayor, Emmanuelle, Barda, Weste, Cuushe and Italian queer symbol M¥SS KETA, L I M, Matilde Davoli and Lucia Manca. Some are icons and some are friends, or both. They come from Italy and Japan, but also from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
The sense of identity exploration is clear from first glance at the album cover, a manifesto in itself.
Resplendent with powerful musical women as part of an eclectic crossover party, improbable yet coherent, where you’d meet and dance with Grace Jones and Missy Elliott, Loredana Bertè and RuPaul, Aaliyha and Amanda Lear, Beth Ditto and Divine. Conceived together with Nicola Napoli (a digital artist in Berlin’s queer scene) it is, as Populous describes, the representation of “a utopian party we would have done anything to be invited to”.
A self confessed ‘queer activist’ Populous is based in his beloved Lecce, in the South of Italy and has been releasing consistently since 2003 on labels like Wonderwheel, Bad Panda, Enchufada, Man recordings, AYA, Brainfeeder and Shika Shika to name a few.
His early work brought him the reputation of a producer who could seamlessly blend digital sounds with the analogue warmth of soul/hip-hop and in more recent years his connection to both the Latin and global sound libraries, yet through a European lens, has given his music a new structure and identity, particularly with albums like ‘Night Safari’ (Bad Panda Records) and ‘Azulejos’ (Wonderwheel Recordings). He has also expanded his work as sound designer for fashion houses such as Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Isabel Marant, and Elie Saab.
Populous in isolation.
With Italy hit hard by the virus and long in isolation, Populous has been busy exploring Israeli chef Ottolenghi’s recipes and is currently recording his quarantine ambient album, thinking (too much) and meditating (too little). “I always worry about people with less money, women living with violent partners, people up in the north dying everyday… it’s a fucking mess! I really hope we will learn something from all this shit. My only plan is to going to the see as soon as the quarantine is over. Just staring at the sea”
Wonderwheel and NMR (photo: press Populous)