Producer & DJ Boddhi Satva and Grammy-award-winning songstress Oumou Sangaré recorded the track already a while back for his album “Invocation”. Boddhi returned to Mali last year, just about when the conflict in Northern Mali escalated completely, to meet Oumou again and shoot a video in Bamako and Kirina. At that time there was already a ban on music in the northern parts of the country under islamist rule, but fortunately this hadn’t reached the capital Bamako.
We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to do an interview with this globetrotting artist. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview, I know you have a very busy schedule and travelled a lot these days: Belgium, Qatar and now Central African Republic, right?
How did the audience in Qatar receive you and what are your plans for your stay in CAR?
The Audience in Qatar was very very receptive to my set and quite fun to perform for. I must say that the W in Doha is the only [venue] where you’ll be able to listen to quality music served by it’s resident dj’s Bruno Rochart & Steve Paris. They are pushing the boundaries and it works.
I unfortunately was not able to make it to Central African Republic due to the recent matters that occurred there. It wasn’t safe enough but all is about to get stabilized now, so I’m re-scheduling the return for as soon as possible.
You just released a massive pack of remixes of your single Ngnari Konon featuring Oumou Sangaré on BBE. I was surprised to read that this was the first ever venture into “electronical” music for Oumou Sangaré although she’s such a super star with international acclaim and I’m sure you weren’t the first foreign producer who approached her – how did you convince her to record a song for your album?
Well I’ve met Oumou back in 2007 and at the time I had just done an edit of her hit song “Ah Ndiyah” which to my surprise she absolutely loved. She then decided to shoot a video for it and from that point on we built a friendship and mutual respect that allowed me to humble approach her during the making of “Invocation” for a collaboration. She said yes. No need to say I almost jumped to the roof.
Do you know how the tense current political situation affects musicians in general in Mali?
It definitely fuels their inspiration and desire to continue creating music that unites their country. Malian music is way too powerful and will remain as such. It’s one of the strongest element of the cement keeping this nation together.
I heard Oumou Sangaré organised a music festival in Bamako in spite of the ban of music in wide parts of the rest of the country and the closure of clubs even in the capital…
Oumou is known to not let anyone dictate her what she will or won’t do. And certainly the only or one of the few woman of Mali able to stand strong and bring some sort of peace in such times.
Oumou Sangaré is well-known for her deep and social-critical lyrics. What does “Ngnari Konon” mean, what is the message of the song?
The message speaks about the the Bird of Peace or White Bird (Ngnari = White, Konon = Bird). It’s a call for unity, a call to celebrate life.
The cover image of the remix release as well as a scene of the Ngnari Konon video shows you during a traditional Malian tea ceremony. Can you tell us a little bit about it? It seems to be a key moment of your journey to Mali for the video shot.
That moment was indeed quite special (thank you to Wren Miller for capturing this moment). Oumou is a very busy woman and barely gets a minute to relax properly. Therefore being able to have her take 1 hour of her time for a tea was quite exceptional and special. Most definitely one of my favorite moments throughout this journey in Bamako and Kirina.
Thanks a lot for this insightful interview, Boddhi, and for bringing us such beautiful sounds!
Boddhi Satva website