Western modern world and African ancient – Sound Of Mint release their EP “Eternally Mine” on Souq Records
trndmsk: What inspired you to produce the EP?
Sound Of Mint: After touring extensively in Morocco throughout the end of 2017 and all of 2018, we sat down in our recording studio in Casablanca after having released a remix on the Canadian label Griffintown records entitled “Bloom” in collaboration with Moroccan electronic music producer Cee El Assaad one of the top 10 Afrohouse producers in the world thinking how can we create a musical fusion and marriage between the Western modern world and the African ancient and traditional world breaking those cultural barriers through 2 original songs “Eternally Mine” and “Sudani Bambara”.
The main idea behind the first song “Eternally Mine” was to attempt to produce for the very first time in the world an Electro-Ethnic song by marrying instruments Western/modern instruments such as the Handpan (Switzerland) Synthesizer played by Sound of Mint, with the Balafon (West Africa) played by Sound of Mint, and the Guembri (North Africa) played by Moroccan Maalem(Master) Dalal Abdelaziz with a goal to create a meticulously orchestrated unique musical piece. To make the song internationally accessible we collaborated with French Algerian vocalist Bahia Waxas who wrote/sang mystical lyrics we recorded. The second song “Sudani Bambara” is a homage to the oldest Moroccan Gnawa song and a collaboration with one of the brightest and upcoming Moroccan Gnawa Musicians Maalem(Master) Dalal Abdelaziz. The originality of the song is translated through this time a marriage between three different musical Moroccan genres: Gnawa Music through the Guembri (Acoustic Bass), Touareg Music though Chants, Berber Music through the Ribab (Acoustic Berber Violin). All of the above-mentioned spices were then precisely orchestrated and arranged together with modern electronic music grooves with again a goal to create a unique and modern contemporary Electro-Ethnic World music composition.
Where did you record it? And how?
The EP was recorded in Casablanca, Morocco in our own music studio established at the end of 2017. For the first song of the EP “Eternally Mine” we first recorded analogic drum grooves with a Roland TR-8, then to some percussive elements we recorded some samples with our Roland Handsonic 10 drumpad. Once the drum/percussive grooves were recorded we then moved on to record the Handpan, Balafon, Guembri bass, synth melodies and lastly called in Bahia Waxas to record beautifully sung vocals.
For the second song of the EP, we first worked on the electro-ethnic drum grooves, added Touareg chants which we had recorded on a desert trip in Ouarzazate in the South of Morocco. We then had the idea to research extensively about Berber and Gnawa music. Gnawa Maalem Dalal Abdelalziz was then called to record his Guembri (Acoustic bass) being the main instrument in Gnawa music and also record vocals for the song. To complete that musical fusion of the three Moroccan genres we then recorded a Berber violin called the Ribab and lastly recorded some Djembe grooves to add some energy to the main drum groove of the song. We then put the cherry on top and finalized the song by recording our own chorus with our voices & Maalem Dalal Abdelaziz’s voice.
Once both songs were finished we contacted one the most experienced & talented sound engineers in the country Olivier Unia who collaborated with French music legends such as Jean-Jacques Goldman, Yanick Noah amongst others to do our mixdown for both songs. Once finalized the songs were sent as demos to Souq Records.
How did you get in contact with the record label?
Jillian Fulton, a Canadian journalist deeply interested in Electronic music and its impact on the Arab culture was writing a thesis on the subject and came to Morocco to study, write and meet some electronic music curators, collectives and festivals. Very interested in our work after having watched an original live video performance we recorded on a rooftop in Casablanca (http://bit.ly/2Gh9W3m) Jillian proposed to meet us for an interview for the Montreal based electronic music blog Husa Sounds. While discussing our upcoming plans she introduced us to Souq Records whom she had worked with and thought would fit with our musical genre. We then researched about the label, loved their musical direction, independent and close approach with artists, and ease of communication getting in touch with Mohamed Aser label honcho who loved the EP and offered us to release on the label.
What’s up next after the release?
We are currently in France for our first Europe tour playing 7 concerts in 5 different cities across the country. We will be joined for our tour by two of best African musicians in the world, Malian N’Goni (Mandingo Harp) player Abou Diarra who collaborated with living African legends Oumou Sangaré and Toumani Diabaté and one of the greatest African guitarists Malian Samba Diabaté. French Algerian vocalist Bahia Waxas who recorded the song “Eternally Mine” will also be part of this amazing journey. Starting with a 4-day artist residency from June 24th to July 28th in Alençon, Normandie at one of the best contemporary musical venues in the country “La Luciole”’ having hosted concerts by legends such as M aka Mathieu Chedid, Vaudou Game, Rokia Traore, Lou Doillon & many others. Lastly, we heading to 4 different French cities, St. Hilaire, Montpellier, Montchanin playing a live filmed performance in a 12th century old castle called Chateau d’Avoise and ending our tour in Paris playing two amazing venues by the Seine river called La Barapapa on July 12th and July 13th Suntomöön.
Are you working on any other projects?
After finishing the EP on Souq Records, we recorded two new songs entitled “Sama Bena” and “Minayo” with Senegalese Grio / Kora player Mbemba Diebaté and vocalist Bahia Waxas. These two songs have gotten the attention of internationally renowned electronic music producer Blond:ish who plans to feature them on her up and coming ‘‘Blond:ish & Friends’’ album. We are also currently collaborating on EPs with some of the very best Afro-house music producers in the world such as Paso Doble, Mr. ID, Cee El Assaad, Akizz Beatz.