British-Ghanaian, writer, theorist and filmmaker Kodwo Eshun (b.1967) is known for his interest in the electronic mythology of sound. In this interview, Eshun discusses his desire to challenge the predominance of sociological inquiries into the historical and stylistic development of music. Eshun seeks to establish a model of inquiry that is much more concerned with the materiality of sound.
Deeming this type of analysis ‘sonological,’ Eshun goes on to describe its dependence upon “a self-awareness of technological mediation,” as in the way hip hop depends upon audience recognition of the techniques used in its own creation. Eshun goes on to discuss Afro-futurism, and the way in which its use of anachronism reflects the electronic politics of resistance that has always lain at the heart of hip hop music.
– Kyle Riley
Eshun's writing deals with cyberculture, science fiction and music with a particular focus on areas where these ideas intersect with the African diaspora. He thinks of his science fiction work as “theory on fast forward.” His debut book More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (1999) is a manifesto that espouses alienation via technology and machine culture. For Eshun, “the key thing to do now is to move into a new field. I’ve stopped calling myself a writer, for the book I’m just going to call myself a concept engineer. What we’re doing is engineering, is grasping fictions, grasping concepts, grasping hallucinations from our own area, translating them into another one, mixing them, and seeing where we go with them.”
Eshun has contributed to a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, The Face, The Wire, i-D, Melody Maker, Spin, Arena, Frieze, CR: The New Centennial Review and 032c. He currently teaches on the MA in Aural and Visual Cultures in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Interview conducted by Romi Crawford in November of 2001, edited in 2014.