Woman We Love: Eden Hagos

It’s been an inspiring summer for Eden Hagos. The Sudan-born, Los Angeles-based DJ has spent part of the dog days traveling throughout East Africa, wholly absorbing the beauty of her land and culture, which, she says, have always been a point of reference for her, creatively.

Of course, Eden has made a name for herself with the way she blends her ties to her roots with an instinctive ability to cultivate the freshest, most original beats. She honors representation, diversity and innovation through thoughtful sampling and re-worked cuts (her latest playlist, “Her Favourite Beats,” is a perfect example), remaining firmly entrenched in respect and positive energy.

It’s a thread of integrity that not only weaves into the fabric of Eden’s work, but also how she navigates through life, from mindful style choices to the way she commands her place in a male-dominated industry. A thread that’s made her a go-to for tastemaker label Soulection and festivals like Women In Music and Afropunk. “I pride myself in being a strong, opinionated woman driven by a strong moral compass,” she adds. “If it doesn’t feel good to me, I won’t engage in or support it.”

With open ears and an assured sense of self, Eden’s star continues to shine, enlighten, and rise.

YOU’RE IN ETHIOPIA RIGHT NOW. HOW HAS THE TRIP BEEN? It’s been amazing! The continent of Africa is home. I’m Eritrean by heritage, but I was born in Sudan and immigrated to the U.S. as a toddler. I’m a proud Habesha, which is an umbrella term for individuals from Eritrea or Ethiopia.

I love traveling, whether it is for a music gig or a consulting project. For me, there is nothing more inspiring and eye-opening than leaving your hotel and going for a walk in a new city, especially at night. The sounds you hear, the street style you see, the food you smell and conversations you overhear — each of these add strings to the fabric of your soul. I always make sure to soak in as much as possible.

ON INSTAGRAM, YOU’VE POSTED SOME WONDERFUL VIDEOS OF MUSIC AND DANCE FROM YOUR TRAVELS. WHAT KIND OF ROLE HAVE YOU SEEN THESE THINGS PLAY IN EAST AFRICAN CULTURE? The various tribes and ethnic groups of each East African country have their own distinct music, culture and tradition. Music and dance has always played a vital role in my culture. It means so much more than having a good time. In many ways, African music is a utilitarian function used in vital aspects of life such as a child’s naming ceremony, initiation rights, religious ceremonies, etc.

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ANY ARTISTS YOU’RE PARTICULARLY EXCITED ABOUT WHILE YOU’VE BEEN THERE? Yes! I discovered Jano band while I was in Ethiopia. I was in town at the time working on a story for an online women’s platform and our translator found out I was an a DJ. He was a big fan of the band and took me to a record shop on my last day to purchase their album for me as a gift. I love what Jano band represents, which is this new sound that blends traditional East African music with more modern rock and future beat sounds. I would love to see them try and attempt a crossover here in the United States. I think they have a shot and I would love to help them attempt that.

YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT HOW A FUGEES ALBUM FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN BEATS. WHICH RECORD WAS IT AND WHAT DID YOU REALLY CONNECT WITH? During my adolescence, I had a step uncle come and visit our family. It was our first time meeting him and he asked me what I wanted as a gift, so he brought me the Fugees album. Lauryn Hill resonated with me because she addressed topics I could relate to, such as feminism and spirituality. Her honesty and openness was incredibly inspiring and she represented a natural, wholesome look which spoke to me. It is because of her that I always say representation matters.

YOU JUST RELEASED YOUR NEW PLAYLIST, “HER FAVOURITE BEATS.” WHAT KIND OF VIBE WERE YOU GOING FOR? A chill vibe. I honestly just wanted to put together a compilation of songs that I had discovered over the past few months, including while I was in Ethiopia. I wanted to share the music that has been inspiring me.

THE PLAYLIST FEATURES GREATS LIKE BARRINGTON LEVY AND SADE, BUT ALSO SOME LESSER-KNOWN ARTISTS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A COUPLE OF THEM AND HOW YOU DISCOVERED THEIR MUSIC? The selections reflect the different sounds that have shaped me as an artist. Most are sample, reworked beats which are what I am actually known for and enjoy most. I love to find unique sounds and find a way to bridge together different cultures, genres and sounds. As an aspiring producer and as a selecta, I tend to tune in to samples and instrumental usage when I listen to music.

YOU ALSO INCLUDED RAMRIDDLZ’ TRACK, “HABAESHA.” HOW HAS YOUR CULTURE INFLUENCED YOU CREATIVELY? My culture/Africa has been and will ways be a reference point for me.

YOU ALSO INCLUDED RAMRIDDLZ’ TRACK, “HABAESHA.” HOW HAS YOUR CULTURE INFLUENCED YOU CREATIVELY? My culture/Africa has been and will ways be a reference point for me.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY CHALLENGES BEING A FEMALE DJ WORKING IN A MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THOSE CHALLENGES? Yes, I have experienced unique challenges because of my gender. However, I have been able to overcome these challenges by staying true to myself. I pride myself in being a strong, opinionated woman driven by a strong moral compass. If it doesn’t feel good to me, I won’t engage in or support it. I have to be picky about the artists I support and labels/brands/companies I work with. I’ve been inspired by fearless women who have been unafraid of the ridicule, double standards and any other setbacks. I also make sure to surround myself with a close knit group of friends and mentors that genuinely care about my well being.

LET’S TALK STYLE. DO YOUR ONSTAGE AND DAY-TO-DAY STYLES DIFFER? WHAT DO THEY REPRESENT ABOUT YOU? My day and night slightly differ. I like to keep everything simple and clean. I tend to get overwhelmed with over-the-top ensembles. I’m into African inspired breathable clothing with lots of movement and a minimal aesthetic. I also love everything green and earth tone, I’m very inspired by nature. Minimalism is top of mind for me. I truly believe that if you want to lead a minimal life, assessing your wardrobe and living space is a great place to start. You have to de-clutter and get rid of what you don’t need, so you can make room for new energy.

HAVE YOU PICKED UP ANY SPECIAL PIECES WHILE YOU’VE BEEN IN EAST AFRICA? I purchased several dresses, gold, lots of fabric and traditional incense for Bunna (coffee) ceremony.

THROUGH YOUR WORK, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING YOUR LISTENERS? I’m just being myself and I hope that shines through and resonates with people. I stand for greater representation of people of colour and women in music and technology. My hope is to facilitate experiences, offer platforms for individual’s voices to be heard, and for people to find a connection to their own stories through my music and other artistic projects.


By Yasmine Shemesh.