In conversation with NYC party pros Saada Ahmed and DJ mOma
Everyday People is a rite of passage for anyone with discerning ears in New York City. The brunch party was launched in 2012 by host Saada Ahmed, DJs mOma and Rich Knight and TV chef Roblé Ali attracting 200 likeminded revellers. It has now grown to over 1,000 and was just voted Best Day Party 2015 by The Village Voice. With a regular home at the DL in LES plus special outings all over the city and beyond, recent highlights include a Brooklyn Museum takeover and Okayafrica collaboration Everyday Afrique.
Saada was born in Nairobi to Somali and Ethiopian parents, moved to the US as a child and settled in New York in 2009. The creative entrepreneur has since been in high demand, working with everyone from 3.1 Phillip Lim to Solange’s St Heron. Sudan-born mOma travelled extensively as a kid due to his father’s position in the UN, and has called Queens home since the early 1990s. He caught the DJ bug in 2002 and has been a sonic pied piper ever since thanks to legendary events such as The Good Spot and Harlem Nights.
Nataal sat down with the duo at a Bed-Stuy café to sip iced matcha green tea lattes and talk about the turn up:
Nataal: Hello! So what was your incentive for starting Everyday People?
mOma: Since Giuliani and Bloomberg, our people have been shut out of nightclubs in NYC. There are community boards that won’t grant a venue a licence unless it commits to playing indie rather than urban. It started in Manhattan – they pushed everything to the Meatpacking District. Then they did the same in Brooklyn with Williamsburg. So there aren’t many spots for us to do our thing. Interestingly that has opened up the daytime. The police are a lot less stressed about day parties because crazy shit happens at night. That created this whole lane that we fill with Everyday People.
Nataal: How did it all come together?
Saada: Actually, the first week I moved to New York I went to one of mOma’s parties! We later met through mutual friends. So when I decided I wanted to put on a brunch party I asked mOma to get involved. I was in Nairobi at the time and sent him a message.
mOma: That exact same day I got a call from The Rivington offering me its restaurant space. It was the universe calling. By the end of the first party no one wanted to leave. For the second, we took over a second room. By the third we’d outgrown the venue and moved to a rooftop spot around the corner. It’s kept growing ever since.
Nataal: What’s cooking?
Saada: Shout out to Roblé! It’s got to be food that goes down easy. Shrimp and grits, chicken and apple sausage, fruit salad…
Nataal: And what’s spinning?
mOma: It’s a chilled out brunch until 3pm, then the DJ brings up the energy – we go a little sexy, a little futuristic. Around 4pm we have a live performance and then at 5pm we take off. The song that signals it’s time to turn up is Blow the Whistle (Too $hort). Then people know to expect two hours of straight hits. Hip hop, afrobeats, soca, Brazilian, tropical - music that girls can shake it to.
Nataal: So naijapop must go down well.
mOma: Skales’ Shake Body, Davido’s Skelewu, Timaya’s Shake Yuh Bum Bum and anything by Wizkid. Our crowd is open-minded. Sure there’s some people who are like, ‘When are you going to play Future?’ but everybody adjusts to the tempo as we go.
Nataal: Who’s in the crowd?
Saada: At first it was just friends. Now people I meet tell me that when they first moved to NYC, they already knew that Everyday People was the sacred party they had to go to, especially as a black person. We get people coming in from London, Paris, Johannesburg. There’s an international vibe.
Nataal: What have been some special moments?
Saada: My favourite was when SWV performed. They were my favourite group growing up. When they started to sing I went weak at the knees!
mOma: Our first Wondaland showcase was great. Jidenna performed Classic Man a year before The Eephus EP dropped and yet we knew it would be a hit because everyone was singing along by the second verse.
"People know to expect two hours of straight hits. Hip hop, afrobeats, soca, Brazilian, tropical - music that girls can shake it to"
Saada: One time we booked Erykah Badu for a DJ set but she arrived right at the end of the event and was genuinely contrite. There was no time for her to spin so she did an a cappella. She had hands in the air. It was the church of Badu in there! So she more than made up for it.
mOma: At our Black Girls Rock edition Beverly Bond brought along Betty Wright. So impromptu, we gave her the mic and she sung Clean Up Woman. She is over 60 but her voice was so clean. That was a beautiful moment.
Nataal: What’s next?
mOma: We want to go global - London, Paris, Berlin and somewhere in West Africa. If we can do all that in 2016 we’ll have done well. New York-wise we’re blessed, which is such an important market. As long as we keep performing well here, everything else will take care of itself.
Photography Kadeem Johnson
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