6&8 borrows most of its material from West African drum traditions, in particular from Gambia. In 2001 I spent three weeks in the small village Tumani Tenda, and at the organized village-camp I had the opportunity to meet representatives from four distinct West African/Gambian musical cultures: Mandinka (cora, ballafon), Wollof (drums/singing), Susu (djembeh, dundun-bah, singing and dance), and Fula (flute, callabash, riti, and acrobatics).
Susu and Wollof, which both share a strong tradition in drumming, were my primary inspirations. Susu is originally from Guinea Conacry and is closely related to Mandinka. All of these once disparate cultures are now found all over West Africa due to the circulatory effects of war, tourism, trade and nomadism. Susu was refined under the administration of president Sechko Touray in Guinea Conacry when music schools for all children were established.
The rhythms in 6&8 are traditional beats and breaks (particularly in the style of Susu), here developed and modernized. Call and reply, for instance, is characteristic of Wollof -originally a way of communication, they are the messengers and storytellers. In 6&8 the bass drum imitates the DunDun-Bah (the Susu bass drum) and the hi-hat acts as a simplified clave usually played on a bell that is connected to the DunDun-Bah.