Buraka Som Sistema, whose finale of a whistlestop European tour was at London’s world famous nightclub ‘Heaven’, won the 2014 BEFFTA for International Entertainment Icons.

The Portuguese five-member group only found out about their nomination as they jetted out of England back to Lisbon.

Andro Carvalho, nicknamed the ‘Conductor’, enthused about winning the international BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) award: “We can’t believe that we achieved such global recognition, we weren’t expecting this from London! It’s brilliant news and means we’ll be back in Portugal smiling about this as well as reflecting on our successful seven country tour.”

João Barbosa, known as ‘Branko’, added: “We are honoured to collect an award, especially as we didn’t even know we were nominated until after the London gig.”

Rui Pité, called on stage ‘DJ Riot’, said: “It’s great to be recognised for our highly danceable rhythms, and helps us focus on the future to bring more exciting new rhythms.”

Kalaf Ângelo, whose frenzied moves during live performances always excites the enthusiastic crowds, explained: “It’s really fantastic news on this award. We are all about dance music and culture, so taking it to the global audience is fabulous – thanks people for voting for us.”

And singer Blaya, who launched her solo career in 2013 and is the only female in the group, admitted: “I’m not from the original line-up but this project is about five creative individuals on our personal journey through music, so it’s incredible to win an international award. Thanks people, I love you all for this recognition.”

Kuduro to the world And Buraka Som Sistema, who kicked off their project in 2006 by bringing the world their unique genre of Angolan techno and electro beats called kuduro, toured this month – Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London and Paris – to promote their latest and fourth album ‘From Buraka to the World’.

Their gig at London’s ‘Heaven’ started with a quiet intro before they upped the tempo with their usual electrifying fast-paced performances that encouraged the crowd to start dancing.

But the well-known tune of ‘Wegue Wegue (Kalemba)’ was the high point of the evening, with the sweat-drenched audience helping the familiar song become a real spectacle of the show.

Branko explained: “It is not about introducing our kuduro music anymore. And it’s not about looking back but about dance music and culture, we enjoy seeing people relate to our music.”

The ‘Conductor’, a hip-hop producer from Angola and former member of the hip-hop band Conjunto Ngonguenha, gave an exclusive interview in the heart of London.

The producer and MC said: “It’s great having Blaya on vocals for our unique genre because she gets our sound and fits in nicely. Although she’s the third female to be part of the set up, the other two were personal friends of mine who were guest vocals, she’s actually the first to part of the band on a permanent basis.

“Although she’s from Lisbon she has Brazilian parents so she has that natural rhythm, which is why she has started to carve out a part-time solo career singing in English on top of being in the band.

“We’ve played at Brazil a couple of times, but that’s a tough nut to crack with our music. Brazilian music is conservative and in reality there are only two or three generations of music in the country.

“Being half Cuban I’m focused on the world of music in Latin America, for example we are very popular in Mexico. At the end of the day we would like to expand but we haven’t tried the Caribbean market yet although we did have Jamaica’s Terry Lynn collaborate on vocals for our latest album. “And we have known and worked with Diplo, the American DJ behind the Jamaican-influenced group Major Lazer, so could always make enquiries when we are ready.

“We find a mix of using Portuguese and English lyrics as the easiest way to communicate with our fans, so that there is no barrier musically, and will continue to be organised in delivering music to fans.

“This month’s tour was to promote our new album, which went worldwide in September, and educate a new audience. But we took so long to bring out our fourth album because it was cleverly controlled by our management and we needed it to happen after the importance of touring for 18 months to new audiences and fans who love club music.

“Although our sales have been great in Portugal and Spain we don’t measure our success just on album sales. We’ve been busy performing all over the place and embrace being in incredible places with amazing audiences like Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Japan.

“And in reality nowadays music is not about sales but how popular videos are on YouTube, so we are trying to make people aware of our kuduro music. We know that our music cuts across all nations and languages with our unique sound.

“It’s great being back here in London, we’ve done all the sightseeing before but this was our first time at ‘Heaven’, as we cancelled the gig there in 2011. However, we played at ‘Fabric’ a couple of times in London as well as festivals in England where the audience were almost as energetic as us!

“Our fast-paced kuduro music is now a legacy, especially with this BEFFTA award. And success to the band is about us all enjoying seeing the people and showing them that kuduro music exists.

“My message to the public is that we produce amazing music and that it should be in people’s lives.”

Buraka Som Sistema have plans to keep producing their high tempo sound but are researching adding new genres and rhythms into their next set of tunes. The band have booked a studio in Angola at the beginning of November to start work on their fifth album, which is set to be released at the end of 2015. But for anyone who can’t wait for new material, or hasn’t been treated to the sounds and incredible live performances from Buraka Som Sistema, then they may want to take in the kings of kuduro’s gig on 15 December at the Lisbon Casino as one of the nine free Monday nights of live music in the Portuguese capital’s ‘Arena Live Concert 2014′ project.

Written by: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd and Yasmine Khera
Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd is an experienced international editor, photojournalist and design consultant with a wealth of experience across all media platforms.

Yasmine Khera is a leading media figure in her native New York City with on-the-spot video interviews capturing the top celebrities off guard with her carefully constructed questioning. www.buraka.tv | www.beffta.com