In the Sahara, you have a lot of time to live the music
The band, who were formed in Libya’s cut throat rebel training camps, are regarded as the soundtrack for Touareg independence and reconciliation.
The exiled nomads-turned-rockstars of the Sahara combine traditional Touareg melodies with Malian, Western, Berber and Arabic influences to create spare, evolving, hypnotic grooves. Their unique sound, which relies on guitars, percussion, vocals and handclaps, has earned them celebrity fans including Thom Yorke, Brian Eno and Carlos Santana.
In a rare interview, Eyadou Ag Leche, speaks on behalf of the Nomadic band ahead of their London show this Thursday.
Can you explain what Tuareg music is?
“Tuareg music” takes its roots in the ancestral Tamashek’s (Tuareg) culture. Chants of the desert, claps, dances during celebrations or simple meetings. The basics of the Tamashek music ais the ‘Tinde’, a percussion played by women, also ‘imzad’, a violin with one string, and a flute called ‘taghanift’ and now with Tinariwen, we can also hear some modern instruments along with ancient instruments playing a music which will always be inspired by the Sahara.
You’re back with your fifth album, what is the story behind it?
We recorded our first real album in 2001. Before that we never really had found the opportunity to be professional musicians, and it was not our priority but we know we have a special style and the success within our community has lead us to dream of bringing our music outside of the Sahara and everywhere else in the world. At this time many tapes were going from hand to hand between people, and most of the time we had to hide them as the authority did not want this music to be spread…In this 5th album we tried to be directly in touch with the source of inspiration, which is the atmosphere of the desert in fact! It was a very nice session and a good trip for all of us.
Libya forms an important part of your backstory – how have the changes there affected you?
We’ve had a complicated and problematic relationship with Libya for a long time. But, for sure, we are now experiencing the direct consequences of the recent changes.
Have the events of the Arab Spring influenced your new material in any way?
Absolutely not, for you don’t feel very much concerned when you are in the middle of the desert. However we are very afraid about what is happening in the world right now, and a lot in our large region.
Are you looking forward to performing in London?
Of course, always. One song we composed 30 years ago, speaks about London…. ‘Listen to me, a day we will come to London to show our culture and to explain our problems….’
What was your most memorable performance as a band?
Well, we don’t have only one but a whole collection, we enjoy touring and love visiting cities all round the world, everyone makes us feel so welcome.
You’re a nomadic band, what place that you have visited was the most awe-inspiring?
The Sahara of course. It is the best place to live the music, also because you have a lot of time to live when you are there.
What message does your music have for Western ears?
We want to communicate all the values we have in our culture, our history in the present context to the world. We have to keep them in mind. Our music is a message of peace. We also have to keep in mind all the past stories and conflict and find a good way in this world together.
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What music do you enjoy listening to?
Our traditional music, Tamashek, and also any authentic artists.
Soundcrash Presents a special double headline show with desert soul rebels Tinariwen back to back with José González - Thursday 3 May – Shepherds Bush Empire www.soundcrashmusic.comTagged in: Libya, music, Tinariwen, Touareg
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