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Africa Unite, DubSync


His showbiz name is PAPANICO and he is from Turin, Italy. He plays percussions in two important Italian bands Africa Unite and Dub Sync. For him all started in secondary school with a flute, better a recorder. The problem for him was that he found that instrument really boring and very frustrating. He didn’t manage to get to like it and so while the others were diligently playing the flutes, he tapped on his desk. Papanico remembers he loved keeping the tempo for them. As he already had a drum kit at home, he asked his music teacher if he could use it to accompany the final performance and she trusted him. Papanico left secondary school with an A in music.

In 1977 Italy was hit by punk, electronic and new wave and everybody was blown away by these new movements. In 1978 as a natural consequence he founded the ROUGH, the first skunk band of the Torinese background. We were the first working-class band in town. Today many young bands still play their covers. The adventure with ROUGH lasted 6 years when they got close to Mods like sound such as ska and white reggae in a kind of UB40 style. Towards the end of 1988 they played as support band for Africa Unite, the oldest and already well known Italian reggae band. The day after that gig he got a telephone call from the then Africa Unite’s drum player who invited him to play percussions with them. He was totally taken by surprise, but he accepted and he never regret.

For Papanico switching from drums to percussions was really difficult. At the beginning he thought that playing drums or percussions was the same thing, but it didn’t take him long to realize that these two instruments were two different worlds. With loads of work and dedication he approached percussions, a fascinating world that enabled him to have a physical contact with the instrument. He realized he could use his whole body while playing: the upper body directly on the instrument and the lower body for dancing and jumping around.

In 1990 he was one of the first musicians in Italy to play the African djembè, an absolute novelty for the Italian music scene of that time. This drum turned out to have an incredible energy on people and as a result two musicians who played in the Loschi Dezi in Turin asked him to form the Mau Mau, a bizarre formation that combined French Maghreb sounds and the Piedmont dialect.

The two projects, Africa Unite and Mau Mau, co-existed for a while, but soon he had to decide between the two and he opted for Africa Unite. And here he is still after 23 years and 15 cds recorded.

Six years ago within Africa Unite they developed a dub project - the Dub Sync – percussions, bass and machines – and they produced one double CD. He has been co-operating and recording with many Italian bands.

In 2005 as a personal interest and to fulfill himself as a musician, he introduced some music projects in primary and secondary schools. My intention was to teach basic music notions to children and offer a more direct approach on percussions to young people: congas, djembe, bongos, agogo, cajon ,scaker, cabasa, guiro, tamburine etc.

Since 2009 he has been co-operating with community projects and he has been teaching percussions to young people as a way out to their tough life. And they love it!