William Onyeabor: Fantastic Man
New York Roller Dancers Skate to the Nigerian Synth Pioneer’s Swirling Beat
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“We were looking for a group of individuals that had something otherworldly about them,” says musician and filmmaker Adam Bainbridge aka Kindness on the stars of today’s video for “Fantastic Man” by near-mythical psychedelic funk artist William Onyeabor. “I then remembered the energy, the sense of camaraderie and above all, the love of music of the Central Park skaters.” Co-directed with Camilla Wasserman, the joyous short spotlights the cosmic funk of the artist from Enugu, Nigeria, whose backstory is virtually unknown. After a prolific musical output in the 1980s, Onyeabor became a born-again Christian, refusing to talk about his past; one that may or may not have included a period studying film in the Soviet Union and setting up a recording studio, pressing plant and record label when he returned to Africa. “I found out that Damon Albarn was one of the few guys who was familiar with his music,” says Eric Welles-Nyström from Luaka Bop, the label founded by David Byrne and Yale Evelev that released last year’s critically lauded compilation, Who is William Onyeabor?. “It wasn’t until we spoke with Damon that it hit me how funny Onyeabor’s music can be. He told us how, after listening to the lyrics of ‘Fantastic Man’, he imagined Onyeabor’s behavior towards his lover—showering her with compliments all day long, he finally wants to get some love back.