January is a hard time to be in the UK when you have grown up with the warm climate of West Africa! I am very glad at this time to be so busy with the band organising exciting things for the year ahead, we have been working hard making a promo film to send out to promoters, venues, festivals looking for opportunities to tour the band.
There are already some exciting gigs lined up for February, Starting with the Destinations Show in Olympia, London, on Sunday 7th February. I will be performing a duo gig with Mark Smulian on the Experience Africa Stage.
Then on Saturday 13th February The full band will be playing at Burton Caribbean Community Centre, Burton On Trent, followed by a gig at the Crich Glebe Field Centre, Matlock, Derbyshire the next Day on Sunday 14th. This is part of the National Rural Touring scheme which is an exciting thing to be part of as a performer as you get to travel to some very out of the way parts of the country and meet lots of very appreciative and interesting people.
Saturday 27th February we have a big gig organised at The Southbank Club, Bristol. Here is the beautiful poster designed by Kirstie Forbes using the artwork for my album ‘Ligeey’ by artist David Cox. David will be exhibiting his beautiful work at the Southbank Club on the night of the gig, so it is going to be a full on audio and visual night of good things. We hope to include some workshops in local schools and will be making sure of a very creative vibe with great music obviously.
I love the way Kirstie has so carefully placed each band member into the bus made by David Cox. The bus is actually about 4 inches long in reality so we would have to be the smallest touring band on earth if it weren’t for photoshop, sort of like an African funk rock flea circus.
We spent a chilly afternoon hanging out of car windows with our instruments then hoping up and down and dancing to keep warm in the park whilst Zoe tried to take our pictures.
Some pictures from our recent video shoot for a video for the track ‘Don’t leave me’ from my latest Album ‘Ligeey’. This video is being made by the Italian film maker Massimo Biagini so it is very cinematic and something quite different and exciting!
This is the track ‘Don’t leave me’ on youtube the video for it will be coming very soon!
As it is a music video I naturally spend a lot of my time in it dancing, I have enjoyed coming up with the dance moves, surprising people out shopping with some of our gorilla style filming on the streets of Bristol.
This week I had the good luck to be invited to travel to London for interviews and performances on both the BBC Focus Africa program and World Service Radio. I got to London the day before so I could be fresh and prepared for the next day, suit and guitar at the ready. We had a bit of a struggle to find a place to stay in London, as being August many friends and family in the area were away and sofas were in short supply. Luckily my good friend and record label magician Kirstie came to the rescue and she organised for us to stay on a boat called “Day in the Life” in East London with a wonderful host called Ian.
This was my first time Sleeping on a boat, and I was pretty nervous about it, but I was assured that it was a very well kept boat indeed and there was no danger, it would be staying safely tied to the jetty that night.
In fact the boat was very comfortable indeed, with a nice comfy bed, lovely views over the water and interesting neighbours floating by.
I had a great guitar jam session with Ian that evening on his boat and met some the locals including these beautiful and curious swans.
On our travels Kirstie and I met a very friendly member of the London Underground staff who knew all about West African music and who was a DJ in his spare time. I told him about Ligéey – good publicity! I hope he checks out my music and decides to play some!
Whilst wandering around we found the BBC News Desk which required a picture immediately and a bit of pretending to present the news of course.
The first interview on BBC Focus on Africa was with Peter Okwoche – I played a couple of tracks from Ligéey and answered Peter’s questions. The producer Chakuchanya Harawa from Malawi is also singer and musician and he had a little go on the guitar before going about his busy day.
The second interview that day was on BBC World Service Radio with Bola Mosuro. She is originally from Nigeria and knows a lot about Senegal and the music scene there. Bola requested that I played her favourite songs from my album Ligéey, Sam Fall and Fouta. I told her the stories of the songs and she asked me if I minded that people who didn’t speak Wolof might miss the meanings of the songs. I said don’t mind – if people feel the music in their hearts and get the message to be kind and strong and gentle then I am happy
Then after all the enjoyable work at the BBC it was time for some food at the Bamboo Flute nearby- delicious scallops and rice and dumplings.
followed by ice cream in hyde park mmm! such a busy day made me hungry
So finally it was time to go home very late on the coach. Sleeping all the way ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
The culmination of months of hard but enjoyable work has finally come together and my new album is being released this week on the 14th by Long Tale Recordings. This is a truly exciting the time and really just the beginning, I feel like I am riding the train that is on the album cover, next stop radio interviews, then jump on that plane, get out there and tour this music everywhere around the world, grab a taxi and zoom!
This song is a dance, a West African kind of Salsa popular before Mbalax became the rhythm of Senegal. It is slow, it is sexy, it is music that says don’t leave me, dance with me, don’t let me go. You can dance all evening on a hot west African night to this rhythm.
The fantastic artwork for the album was created by David Cox. My wife has known David for many years as the dad of her school friend and occasional art teacher at Looking Glass school and then as the lecturer in charge of an animation course she took. As she was struggling to come up with both time and ideas for the album artwork she called David to ask for some help, little expecting that he would be so taken with the album and the concept that he offered to create an original piece of artwork for Ligéey. The word Ligéey means Work in Wolof, this album is a result of my work as a musician, it is a piece of my work as an artist, as too is the creation for the cover made by David, the amazing creative talents of the musicians who have played on the album, Beth Porter, Phil Dawson, Mark Smulian, Gani Tamir, Myke Vince, and the skill and wealth of experience of the producer on this album Mark Smulian, and mastering skill of Sefi Carmel.
This is the art work in progress. David created a 3D construction from cardboard boxes cereal packets and postal tape which when he is happy with the design is then painted with household emulsion.
” Letters painted red or orange to stand out from the background. Then I get to work with my paint’s and colour pencil. Buildings white, the rest a limited range of colours to maximise the 3D qualities of the piece and shadows.”
“A tribute to all the workers, those who have made our cities, towns and villages, those that feed us and provide water, those that get us to our destination, those that keep the roads open and safe, those help when we are in danger or sick, those collect the and recycle rubbish, those that make our clothes, those who teach us, those that sing and play music, on and on…” D. Cox
this is a link to a page about David Cox on the WOMAD Website http://womad.org/artists/david-cox/
Animation by David Cox for MIX IT UP by The Kingstonians ( this is some of David’s previous animation work that can be found on you tube)
I think the artwork really fits the album beautifully, it is music to travel to, music to dance to, and I hope it is music to move the listener both physically but also in a soulful, joyful, and thoughtful way too.
I have not been able at this point to upload some short tasters of the new album but hopefully we will sort that out soon, also watch this space for some exciting video projects for the album that are taking shape now.
If you wish to check out my new album on Amazon her is the link for Ligéey
and here is the Amazon USA Link for Ligeey
and here is the link for Long Tale Recordings http://longtalerecordings.com
I have been hard at work these last few months making my new album Ligeey. This is a wolof word which actually means work, so very apt because to record and release an album is very hard Ligeey indeed, but so worth it!
I have found such great inspiration with the musicians I am working with, the process has been full of excitement, laughing, enjoying the ride, it is so good when creativity comes together like that.
The new album reflects the enjoyment we had making it, there is an open quality to it, a wide eyed wonder. If we liked how something worked in a track we put it in regardless of fitting into any stereotypes of what African music should be. This is not a traditional album but as they say its roots are showing.
My co- creative on the Ligeey project is Producer Mark Smulian
Smulian has produced Platinum and Gold albums for a number of internationally successful Israeli artists. In addition to producing he has had a huge involvement in the Middle-Eastern crossover music scene, working with a variety of musicians from both the Israeli and Palestinian regions and with artists from a vast range of different cultural and political backgrounds.
Mark is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Jamaà a world music collective that represents artists and bands from the Middle East.
he has a wiki here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Smulian
we met at a music making week called Schtumm which is an invitation only event for music creatives held in Box near Corsham in Wiltshire around the beautiful Real World Studio’s rehearsal rooms and the local pub The Queens Head.
Yup thats me standing outside the amazing Real World Studios having just had lunch there, Mark and I had a meeting that day with Long Tale Recordings after we had been working on the album for some weeks already.
We were so lucky to get the very wonderful and extremely busy Beth Porter to come put some Cello arrangements on a few tracks. www.bethporter
Beth is constantly in demand as a cellist for the likes of Eliza Carthy, Peter Gabriel, Newton Faulkner, The Unthanks, Kula Shaker and many acts from the South West of England, (Babel, The Cedar, The Stringbeans, Jane Taylor, Get The Blessing, Reg Meuross & Jim Moray
From Nahalal-near Nazareth- in the Jezreel Valley in Israel, Gani is one of Israel’s most creative and important vocalists. With her special blend of world/jazz/alternative music, singing in English, Hebrew and Arabic, Gani brings a unique color to the World/Jazz improvisatory scene.
Gani’s credits are far too many to list here but it can be summed up by saying that she has worked with every major artist in Israel and others from all over the world.
Gani has put some of her beautiful vocals on a number of tracks for this album singing in Hebrew, Wolof and English. The track Sam Fall features Amadou and Gani singing in Wolof and Hebrew respectively, Gani sings “give/support to the children
give to the children form your heart”
Phil Dawson has put some spectacular, pyrotechnic guitar on a couple of tracks for the the album. There is a perfect air guitar moment I promise! There is crunch and wail goodness to delight.
Phil has worked with so many fantastic artists, it is hard to choose who to mention, you can see the full list on his website.
Damon Albarn, Amadou and Mariam, Dele Sosimi, Hugh Masekela, Tony Allen …….. the list goes on and on!
Not sure why I am wearing shades indoors here, probably just overwhelmed by excitement as the album is finally finished, this is me enjoying the day whilst the album is being mastered by Sefi Carmel http://www.soundtrack-creation.com at his ( I hate to use the word stunning but I felt stunned, probably why I am wearing shades,) awesome studio in London. Look at me I am sitting there trying very hard not to reach over and slide something! I want to play!
Mastering an album is an essential final process once all the tracks have been mixed, a good professional mastering job can make a huge difference to the over all listening quality of the final album.
If you want to know more about the process of mastering music and why it is nessesary here is a good wiki lnk
Sefi Carmel is an award winning London based composer, sound designer, producer and mixer. He has been creating soundtracks for films, TV, commercials and games for over a decade.
His diverse credits range from work on A list Hollywood feature films with the likes of Ridley Scott, John Woo, Chris Columbus and Kevin Reynolds; to mixing, remixing and mastering tracks for David Bowie, Phil Collins, Bruno Mars, Michael Bublé, Massive Attack, BB king and many more.
I think as you can see the mastering of the album was in safe hands indeed!
The new album Ligeey is being released by Long tale Recordings on the 14th August 2015, you can find out more and buy copies if you follow this link to their website longtalerecordings.com
There is more information about me, my music and upcoming gigs etc on this website here amadou.longtalerecordings.com