Meet Rophnan – The Ethiopian Avant-Garde DJ/ Producer

It’s just a matter of time before the world gets to discover Rophnan. You will meet the 27-year-old DJ, producer and singer on “Coke Studio Africa 2019” collaborating with Zambian Rap King – Chef 187. Rophnan makes a historic debut on Coke Studio Africa as the show’s first act to be signed on both as a producer and performing artist. The music maven shares his vision, aspirations and best meal with us.

Bittersweet introduction to music

For as long as he could recall, Rophan says that music was always a part of his earlier influences. He recalls: “When I was about 10 years old, I used to just drum the chair as my friends sang. At that time I didn’t know I was making music; I just knew I was special because not everyone around me could do what I did. [My music was so good that] I started getting bullied by older kids; I remember they would make me perform for them and if I refused they would beat me up.”

When traditional music goes global

Rophnan’s music style is deeply grounded in traditional Ethiopian sound. This never deterred him from dreaming and working towards engaging a global audience. He pegs his success on hard work, consistency and believing he can turn his dreams into reality. Winning a famous DJ competition in Ethiopia and getting a chance to DJ in Ibiza alongside BET award-winning South African DJ, Black Coffee, was one of his biggest opportunities yet. Despite all, Rophnan asserts that fame isn’t his ultimate goal. He says: “I want to accomplish something the world has never seen with my music.”

On the new season, audiences across Africa will get to experience his flair in blending traditional Ethiopian sounds with high tempo electronic beats to create innovative EDM music.

Coke Studio put me with artists I admire

Tasked with writing, recording, producing, mixing and engineering all music fusions between him and Chef 187 on the new season, is a perfect example of how Rophnan is a jack-of-all-trades. He weighs in on the responsibility: “One of the things that Coke Studio has helped me discover is my limits. Having to do all these things made me realize that I’m actually capable to do quite a lot with my skills.” Rophan feted Coke Studio Africa for pairing him with Chef 187, whom he describes as ‘a deep lyricist’, and giving him the opportunity to create and perform with one of the artists he has always admired; Kasiva (Kenya), the show’s percussionist.

Despite being the super dope chef serving eclectic sounds straight out of his debut album ‘Reflections’, Rophnan cannot cook any food to save his life. Like most Ethiopians, Injera is his favourite dish.

For more on Ethiopian cuisine, make sure you watch the Culture Exchange segment on Coke Studio Africa’s YouTube channel.