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Quarter to Africa : When the east meet west

Get ready to  discover one of my favorite bands so far; Quarter to africa! (And no they’re not africans). They’re from Israel, they have the Groove and no one will stand still when they’re doing their thing! Check by yourself!

L’image contient peut-être : une personne ou plus et personnes qui jouent des instruments de musique

Quarter To Africa (Q2A) is an uplifting Ethno-funk ensemble, combining electric Oud grooves, saxophone, trumpet, electric guitar, bass, drums, percussion, synthesizer and vocals. Its music creates an uplifting collage, fusing traditional Arabic “Makam » scales with African rhythms, jazz and funk. The result is a unique mixture of East meet West.

In the past few years, Quarter to Africa has performed across the world spreading their message while headlining several festivals and major events, including the RedSea Jazz festival, Jarasum fest (Korea), Magic live fest (Japan) Israel film festival, the international Jazz festival, Jerusalem Festival and more.

Collaborating with many top artists as Ester rada, Reef cohen, Yossi fine, and the great Avishai cohen.

L’image contient peut-être : 1 personne, joue d’un instrument de musique

 Can you start by giving a brief presentation of every member group and how did you know each other? When did you start your group and how did you think about it?

The Q2A concept was conceived by Yakir Sasson & Elyasaf Bashari, both of whom are experienced, seasoned respected musicians who met in Jaffa to discover a shared musical language and similar outlook on life. The music has absorbed the cultural aspects of each musician’s background. Both have been brought up in homes influenced by the traditions and heritages of Yemen, Persia and Iraq. Their personal style that was further refined later at the Jerusalem Music Academy and The Center for Middle Eastern Classical Music. This has consequently formed the solid base for a fresh aesthetic of which name they’ve coined AFRO-ARAB, or simply- “Afrab”.

Other members of the group joined later on ,and all are good friends and are members of the family.  we met them in various productions we wortk with.

Who inspired and inspires you the most?

Oum koltum and Bob Marley because their music has no age and is endless.

Any artist you loved to work with or would love to?

Ziggy Marley, Kandric Lamar and Jean Paul simply because they got the groove.

What are your plans ? 

  • We just came back from a very sucsessful tour in asia (South Korea and Japan).
  • And we are about to release new single in Japan soon.
  • New singles are coming worldwide for the next album that will come out later on 2018.
  • Also In 2018 we are planning to tour in Europe and other parts of the world.

L’image contient peut-être : 2 personnes

How would you define your music?

Quarter To Africa (Q2A) is a multi-cultural roots ensemble, combining electric Oud grooves, saxophone, trumpet, percussion, guitar, bass, drums, synthesizer and vocals. Our music creates an uplifting collage, fusing traditional Arabic “Makam » scales with African rhythms, jazz and funk. Some call it ethno – funk, some call it afrofunk, we call it afro – arab, or as love to call our genre – AFRAB

Why did you name your group « Quarter to Africa »?

Quarter refer to the quarter tons in makam scales, and Africa is where the groove started.. You can say in some way that we are in Africa. But not quite.. so its quarter to africa!

L’image contient peut-être : 1 personne, sur scène

 Can you give us a list of your 10 favorites songs?

  1. James Brown – Super bad
  2. Bob Marley –Redemption song
  3. Oum koltum – Inta omri
  4. Anderson Paak- Come down
  5. Stevey wonder – Too high
  6. Charley Parker – Donna Lee
  7.  John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
  8.  Kendrick Lamar – ELEMENT.
  9. Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze
  10. Ester rada – Guilt

Can you tell us something special about the group you never said in an interview before?

We recorded a song with the great Avishai Cohen (bass) and he joined us on stage on several occasions.. Nowdays, main members of Q2A are the rhythm section musicians of his band. They also arranged and recorded his new album 1970  with him, and currently performing with him across the word as his rhyme section band .

 

( Spécial thanks to the whole band and specially Amir, the manager, for being very kind and keeping me updated about everything the band does. That made me very happy. You made me want to move to Israel guys. )

N3rdistan In Meknes: A Concert To Be Remembered

It all started when a friend of mine sent me a picture of the concert’s poster. I was already bummed for not being able to go to L’Boulevard, specially that I really wanted to see the likes of JadaL and Betweenatna. As soon as I saw who’s coming to play, I had a rush of excitement just like a kid in a candy store. Not surprisingly, people came from all over Meknes to be there. The French Institution’s Theater barely held the number of fans who came to see the band. And let me tell you, they had a reason for flooding it. The concert was pure awesome. Even people who didn’t know who they were listening to  finished the concert screaming: N3RDISTAN, N3RDISTAN, N3RDISTAN…

The band started with a Nizar Qabbani inspired track, it was almost like Walead was reciting poetry in the most artistic manner you could possibly imagine, when everyone thought that was it, the beat started and the crowd went wild when a more rap-y version of the poem  emerged from the band’s amplifiers.
The next two tracks were also from what I’d call ‘The Gods of Arabic Poetry’, Ahmed Matar and Gibran Khalil Gibran. When I asked the band about the reason why they chose to take their lyrics from such great poets, they responded by: These poets are the same ones who gave our forefathers the strength to  change their communities. These pieces of poetry are still relevant today, for example, Irhalo by Ahmed Matar or  Hawaamish ‘Ala Daftar An-Naksa by Nizar Qabbani are basically the unofficial anthems of the Arab Spring. It really comes natural to us to take inspiration from them.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

Next thing on their playlist for us was The Whistling Voice of A Nightingale by Al-Asma’i. The witty lyrics and the combination of Walead and Houda, AKA T Queen, rapping their way through one of the most twisted pieces of Arabic poetry ever written, accompanied by a sick drummer is way beyond anything I’ve seen in awhile. It kinda reminded me of their weird name, N3rdistan.  When I asked Walead where did the name really come from, he took it very humorously and stated: Well, i was walking one day, at about 6:45 (Sebâa L’lareb was his actual description) and I saw an N and an S, somehow along the way, that turned into N3rdistan, and here we are today, playing in Meknes.

After a couple more tracks, the band hit us with what Walead calls ‘Eletro 9bi7‘.  It was an over-compressed mixture of Drum&Bass and Rock, plus some sampled voice covers called Occupy. When questioned about how they categorize themselves in terms of genre, the band haven’t really much to say: We call it N3edistan Haha. We don’t really follow certain parameters or a certain genre. If we liked a beat or a combination of strings, we’ll go along with it. I, myself, had some past experience with Rap, Metal and Electro, other members like African Music, Reggae, Drum&Bass and so on. We really just try to merge everything together and come up with something that we like.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

After that ‘Eletro L9bi7‘, things settled down a bit with a clearly political track that was, and I quote: A message to every political institution out there. The track Mirage Policy (Siyassat Sarab) is a full-on rage attack on every political figure I could think of. Talking to the band, they said jokingly : Well, the only place that isn’t really concerned about this track is N3rdistan itself Hahah. but seriously, it’s a message to every political institution out there, in and outside of Morocco. We do not support any political figure or entity, as by definition, they stand by everything we fight against.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

At The end of the concert, the crowd went all crazy and begged for a another track. ‘Encore, encore, encore…’ everyone screamed. the band complied and they sang The Whistling Voice of A Nightingale again. The track didn’t loose its charm one bit.
When Walead was introducing the band members, the multi instrumentalist  took the mic and told us that it’s Walead’s birthday. To his surprise, no one got out of the theater till they sang happy birthday, his reaction was PRICELESS to say the least.

I did catch up with the band after the show, like I’ve mentioned before, and they happily answered everything I had to ask. Besides from the answers above, we had this mini conversation.

OM: How was the concert? did you like the crowd?
N3rdistan: It was one of the most energetic gigs we had in awhile, the crowd was insane and responsive and that’s the way we like it.

OM: Are you planning on coming back anytime soon?
N3rdistan: We hope so, we liked the crowd and the whole thing was just a bless.

OM: let’s talk about you guys for a bit, when did the band, in it’s current form, start?
N3rdistan: In 2014, we just got together and started making music. (Houda’s speaking now) I just saw a lighted room with good music coming out of it and came in Haha.  I got in after the idea was already formed by Walead and here we are.

OM: Speaking of making music, what’s the typical studio day for N3rdistan?
N3rdistan: We just hang out there, brainstorming till something comes up.

OM: Do you guys have any albums or tracks coming out soon?
N3rdistan: Yeah, We have a 4 tracks  EP coming out in October, and an album coming out in 2016.

Taken by: Mohammed Mehyaoui

Undoubtedly, The concert was one of the best I’ve been to and the band is just amazing and down to earth. Hopefully we’ll see them soon at Visa For Music.

AURORA: A Young Emerging Artist.

Aurora‘s talent in writing and singing are as obvious as her young age. This up-and-coming artist has already established her fanbase, which is basically everyone who listens, listened or will listen to her. As soon as one listens to one of her tracks, falling in love with her is just an action waiting to happen. Her dark interpretation of music and her heavily meaningful lyrics will compile  anyone to bookmark her name in their emerging artists chart.
I’ve got a hold of Aurora to ask her a few question about pretty much anything I could think of, and she happily and calmly answered every single one with as much passion as she usually spends is her performances. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you, AURORA.

aurora6
VM: Hi Aurora and thank you for the interview, We would like to know more about you. Tell us who Aurora Aksnes  really is.
AURORA: Well. My name is Aurora, I live in Norway, a few hours from Bergen. I’ve been writing songs since I was 9, I love to tell stories.

VM: What got you into music? did you want to be a singer your whole life?
AURORA: I didn’t want to be a singer, and even now I considered myself more a musician and a storyteller than a singer. I’ve loved writing songs since I was 9, mostly for myself. I didn’t really want to be on a stage… I just needed to write songs. And then MADE management found me, and here I am.

I considered myself more a musician and a storyteller than a singer.

VM: In other interviews, you’ve pointed out that you’ve been playing piano since a very young age and fell in love with it. who or what pushed you to learn how to play it?
AURORA: my older sister used to play piano – before she stopped. And that was when I started to play. nothing pushed me to learn it. I think that is the reason why I love it so much. My parents never pushed me into doing anything. But they supported me. I think I just loved the sound of it so much that I just kept playing.

VM: What is the typical studio day for Aurora?
AURORA: Well, it depends! Every day is quite different actually! But music is always being created, and it’s wonderful. I really love being in the studio.

VM: Concerning your songs, you go from the romantic but uniquely unusual ‘In Boxes’ to the very artistically lyrics-ed ‘Runaway’. do you think there is any different between the two? how would you describe each one?
AURORA: Well, I think all of my songs have a certain darkness to them. And of course they are different! All my songs are different stories, and they deserve to have their own style. In boxes is a bit more morbid and creepy, and runaway is more longing.

VM: Your latest single ‘Murder Song’ just came out, and I have to say the acoustic version is one of my favorite songss by you. The lyrics are moving and it looks like there is a story behind it. would you care to give us a little insight on how the song came into existence?
AURORA: I wrote it one year ago, I can’t remember how it happened, but I remember it happened very fast. It was meant to be written!

VM: Your Discogs page describes your music as Pop, We like to believe that it’s a more of an acoustic version of Indie Rock. how would you describe it?
AURORA: Dark art pop.

VM: Where did you perform your first live show and how did it go? Do you have any future plans to perform here, in Morocco?
AURORA: The first real show with a band I did in Bergen – February 2014! It was very scary. That’s the thing I remember the most about it. and I don’t know yet – but I think one day I will come to Morocco and play!

VM: What are your plans for the near future? What can we expect from you?
AURORA: I’m finishing my first album, it will be released in the beginning of next year, I’m super excited.

VM: Give us an interesting fun fact or a weird incident that happened to you while you were performing live.
AURORA: Well, it’s hard to remember, weird things often happens on stage!!!! I sometime forget the lyrics, and one time I think I swallowed a tiny fly while singing ‘awakening’. That was quite weird.

VM: Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans or simply for the people who wanna discover your music?
AURORA: Well, I want my fans to know that I love them! I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without them! They are being so nice to me. And for the people who haven’t discovered me yet – if you like emotional music, you’ve come to the right place. I have lots of stories to tell.


To hear more from Aurora, be sure to check out her Spotify or Soundcloud.

A special thank you to AURORA’s PR team for facilitating this interview, especially Helga Luedy.

 

 

5 reasons to listen to indie Korean Hip Hop

My last article was a list. This one too is a list. I think I’m starting to develop an MO (yes, like a serial killer. I’m a serial writer. God, my puns can be awful.)

All those who know me will tell you:  I have always been obsessed with Asian culture. Probably because I’ve been watching anime since I was a child (or just because I’m into really weird shit. I mean, have you ever seen a Japanese commercial? I think they’re being made by LSD users, that’s the only logical explanation), but Japanese and Korean culture were a huge influence in my life (yeah, that’s why I’m such a hard worker. HA HA HA!). One of my favourite music styles is Korean Hip Hop. Yes, I already hear your offended snorts. Like one of my friends told me (in a rather racist manner, but let’s forget about that, shall we?): “How can an Asian rap?”  Well, let me tell you something (and please don’t lynch me, I still want to live): Rap, Hip Hop and RN’B aren’t just for Afro-Americans, and I have here examples of Korean artists who will blow you effin’ mind away!

1. MFBTY with Bang Diggy Bang Bang

This project is a collaboration between legendary Korean rapper Tiger JK, his wife, the Korean-American singer and rapper Tasha (also known as Yoonmirae) and the young Korean talent Bizzy. Their music is funky, fun and most of all, unique. I invite you to check out my personal favourite song, Bang Diggy Bang Bang (I know, the name sounds weird, but it’s worth it!!)

2. Beenzino with Dali Van Picasso

Beenzino is the first independent Korean rapper I’ve listened to. I have immediately fallen in love with his music. Even though he’s still considered a rookie in the Korean Hip Hop scene, he gained recognition quickly and collaborated with some of the biggest names of Korean Rap.

3. Verbal Jint with Doin’ it

Verbal Jint debuted in 2001 and became famous for his groundbreaking innovations in the Korean Hip Hop scene. He was the first artist to introduce rhyme schemes in Korean rap. What is more astonishing is that he was also able to achieve mainstream success and become as well known as Kpop idols.

4. Primary with Meet

Not only a musician, but also one of the most influential music producers in Korea, Primary, known for his cardboard box mask with a bird beak and his batshit crazy talent, has collaborated with many Korean talents. Check out his song Meet, featuring Zion T., one of my personal favorite Korean RN’B singers.

5. The Quiett with Livin’ In The Dream

Producer ,rapper and co-CEO of the independent Illionaire Records, The Quiett has become famous thank to his unique rapping flow and his collaboration with Korea’s biggest names such as Jay Park and Tiger JK.

Indie Music: The Blurred Lines Genre.

Most of us music lovers have listened to Indie music and haven’t even realized it. The genre is so broad and its lines are so blurry that we can put The Beatles and Iron & Wine under the same roof. (I know, that’s almost unacceptable, for BOTH parties.) By its own definition, the genre is basically unboundable. There is just no way one can know for sure what to look for when it comes to this relatively new genre. Continue reading “Indie Music: The Blurred Lines Genre.” »

Pink Floyd, An End That We Cannot Cope With

This is the news that we knew will eventually happen but deep down inside, could not accept. Pink Floyd’s frontman and guitarist announced in an interview with Classic Rock Magazine that the band is officially “done”. He added “I’ve had 48 years in Pink Floyd – quite a few of those years at the beginning, with Roger [Waters]. And those years in what is now considered to be our heyday were 95% musically fulfilling and joyous and full of fun and laughter. I certainly don’t want to let the other 5% colour my view of what was a long and fantastic time together. But it has run its course, we are done – and it would be fakery to go back and do it again.

Ever since Roger Waters departed in 1985, Pink Floyd started falling apart.  Nonetheless, David Gilmour continued the legacy of the band without the former bassist and released ground-breaking albums along with the remaining members, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.

Last year, Gilmour and Mason released the final Pink Floyd album, a follow-up to « The Division bell » released in 1994. The album included unreleased music and lyrics composed by Rick Wright prior to his death and during The Division Bell‘s recording sessions. Last year’s « The Endless River » served as a farewell and a finish line for a band that completely shaped and altered the Rock scene.

As a commemoration, I decided to share one song from each Pink Floyd album that defined the whole band and put a stamp on the rock scene.

The Piper At the Gates of Dawn (1967)

Astronomy Domine, Pink Floyd’s first song on their debut album, proved the late Syd Barrett’s genius and gave a new essence to Psychedelic Rock.

A Saucerful Of Secrets (1968) 

The first three albums achieved international claim with their psychedelic and progressive rock style. See-Saw from « A Saucerful Of Secrets » is definitely on the list.

Ummagumma (1969)

This is the first album to exclude Syd Barrett. It also included a couple of songs from the previous two records. However, one that defined the album as a whole would be « Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict ». Long title, worth a listen.

Atom Heart Mother (1970)

« Atom Heart Mother: Father’s Shout/Breast Milky/Mother Fore/Funky Dung/Mind Yo… » is an outstanding track that shows how the four remaining members composed an orchestra-like rock song.  a 23-minute suite that you should listen to in one go.

Meddle (1971)

This is album that is quite similar to the band’s debut album in terms of song structure. The highlight of this record is « Echoes », another 23-minute suite packed with beautiful lyrics.

Obscured by Clouds (1972) 

The title track « Obscured by Clouds » is definitely one of the highlights of the album, one that yet again goes back to the band’s late 60’s roots.

The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)

Considered the peak of Pink Floyd, this album contains songs that completely changed the public’s perceptions on Rock as a genre. Although every single track should be on this list, i cannot help but choose « Time » as the best song on the album. It’s even better live!

Animals (1977) 

My personal favorite album. One that looks back at George Orwell’s Animal Farm and reflects upon the society’s classes. The track « Dogs »  is certainly the best on the record.

The Wall (1979)

Even Though The Dark Side of The Moon was a revolutionary album. Pink Floyd’s The Wall is considered their masterpiece and their best album ever. The record shows Roger Waters’ Genius and his ability of writing lyrics that revolt against society’s biggest issues. The song « Comfortably Numb »   is on this list. Beautiful guitar solo by David Gilmour.

The Final Cut (1983) 

This is Roger Waters last album with the band, and as much as it is a solo album, I still considered it a Pink Floyd album. The standout track on this record is « Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert ». Although short, it’s a wonderful acoustic song that yet again speaks about world problems.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) 

This album marked the decline of Pink Floyd, with the departure of significant members, Roger Waters and Syd Barrett. Nevertheless, David Gilmour and the remaining members did put out a significant album that still has that Pink Floyd signature sound. « Learning to Fly » is one of the best tracks on this record.

The Division Bell (1994) 

A strong record that shows the band’s new sound and one that moves away from their psychedelic roots. This is also the last album to include the keyboardist Richard Wright. As a way to commemorate his passing, I choose « Wearing the Inside Out » as the best track on this record.

The Endless River (2014)

20 years after The Division Bell, David Gilmour and Nick mason decided to release a final album. Although it mostly consists of instrumentals, the record is an outstanding set of tracks reminiscent of songs from The Division Bell era. The best track is the only song with lyrics, « Louder than Words ».