“Share the vibration” – an interview with Walid Ben Selim

by Hatim Suleiman and Charlie Crooijmans

informal music meeting

News and Noise! was invited to a musical event at the Immigration detention center or asylum seekers reception center (AZC for short in Dutch) located at a former military hospital in Utrecht. Moroccan poet, musician and spoken word artist Walid Ben Selim (N3erdstan) gave performances. This event is a collaboration of the organizations Vrolijkheid and Culture Connection. Continue reading

Rokia Traoré’s thoughts on refugees and colonisation

Rokia Traore in hotel

by Charlie Crooijmans

In the beginning of March singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré from Mali came to Amsterdam to do an exclusive concert at the North Sea Jazz Club. She was touring round Europe to present her wonderful new album ‘Né So’. At my work at VPRO Vrije Geluiden (Dutch cross media music channel), I am coordinating a group of young people who are thinking about alternative ways to present music and musicians. One of them, the animator Wisse Beets, wanted to do an interview with Rokia without asking her any questions. Instead, he showed her some drawings she could reflect on, with which he made an animation (see below). Her thoughts on a drawing of a half sinking boat full of people were so profound, I decided to transcribe them for News and Noise! Continue reading

No desire to be a good girl – an interview with Yasmine Hamdan

Yasmine Hamdan at Café de la Danse, photo: CC

Yasmine Hamdan at Café de la Danse, photo: CC

by Charlie Crooijmans

Paris – Last week News and Noise! was at Café de la Danse in Paris, to attend the concert of Yasmine Hamdan. It was an electrifying show with elements of underground and mysticism. Singer-songwriter and actress Hamdan is one of those free spirits seeking for inspiration. She needs the music to be able to express herself – especially coming from Lebanon, a damaged postwar country – and is considered an underground icon throughout the Arab world ever since Soapkills, the duo she founded in Beirut. After moving to Paris, Hamdan recorded an album with musician/producer Mirwais, and also collaborated with CocoRosie for a while. Together with Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague), she wrote and produced her first solo album in 2012, which was internationally released on Crammed Discs under the title Ya Nass. Both she and her song Hal appears in the Jim Jarmusch’ vampire movie Only lovers left alive. In a cute tea-house in the middle of Paris we had a very nice, open-hearted conversation, about her youth in postwar Lebanon, her non-conformism, her collection of old Arab songs and her music.

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“The Saharawi need an identity” – an interview with Aziza Brahim

by Charlie Crooijmans

Aziza BrahimAmsterdam – The liner notes of the third and newest album of Aziza Brahim, Soutak, has a strong message. “If things are not set right soon, we, the native people of the Western Sahara (“Saharawis”), will have traveled a road of some 40 years since our land was invaded, ravaged and robbed. A path that leads from napalm bombs to landmines; a route encompassing the exodus to the refugee camps in the South of Algeria and the cruel devastation and unjust condemnation of the brave Gdeim Izik (Camp of Dignity); a march from medieval colonialism to neoliberal imperialism; all of it face to face with the silent complicity of the large international organizations.” Aziza Brahim (1976) was born and raised in the Saharawi refugee camps in the Tindouf region of Algeria where her family settled, after fleeing from the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. When she was 11 years old, she journeyed to Cuba to pursue her secondary school studies. Back in the refugee camps she committed to self-education and the development of her own musical expression. Now many years, awards, movies, and three albums later, her album Soutak has reached number 1 of the European World Charts. She appeared in the TV show of Jools Holland (UK), and last week she was in Amsterdam to perform at the TV show Vrije Geluiden. News & Noise spoke to her shortly before she had to return to Barcelona. Continue reading

Big in Iran – an interview with Rita

Rita at Babel Med

Rita at Babel Med, photo: Jean de Peña

by Charlie Crooijmans

– Marseille. Babel Med is a world music expo and conference from 20-22 of March, in Marseille. The organization likes to program showcases with an interesting story, like the Libyan hiphop crew G.A.B. and Israeli singer Rita Jahanforuz, simply known as Rita. With a career of 25 years, sold-out concerts and multi-platinum records, Rita is one of the Israeli top female singers. Since her album My Joys (2011), she became even big in Iran. As a born Iranian, Rita decided to record a personal album inspired by her Persian heritage. News & Noise joined in at the press conference and learned that her music is more than just showbiz.

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“We are trying to give a good image of Libya” – an interview with G.A.B.

G Thug AKA Lantren at Babel Med
by Charlie Crooijmans

Marseille – At the world music expo Babel Med, last month, News & Noise spoke with Seraj Kamel/G Thug AKA Lantren, the crew manager and one of the rappers of G.A.B. (Good against Bad). This zealous Libyan hip-hop group is reveling in and grappling with the new freedom of expression that has flourished since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi. Sponsored by a French institute, G.A.B. came to Babel Med in Marseille to represent their country. This is their first international experience. The timing of their performance wasn’t that opportune, because they had to compete with the Congolese Jupiter & Okwess International. Despite their excellent rapping skills, for the delegates of Babel Med the message of G.A.B. seems to be far more interesting than their music. Talking with Seraj Kamel of G.A.B. gave us an interesting impression of today’s Libya.

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Iran vs Israel – an interview with Sahand Sahebdivani

by Charlie Crooijmans

Kingdom of Fire and ClayThe Iranian-Israeli relations are – and always have been – a very complex matter. Of course this is on a political level, but what about the people? To my surprise I met the Dutch-Iranian (or Iranian-Dutch) Sahand Sahebdivani about two weeks ago at a cafe in Amsterdam. He was in a meeting on a project named ‘Kingdom of Fire and Clay’ in which he and his Israeli friend Raphael Rodan will challenge each other with stories from their home country. I know Sahand as a professional storyteller, radio maker and journalist – recently he has been appointed Storyteller of the Year 2014 (Stichting Vertellen). His parents sought political asylum in the Netherlands in the 1980s. Sahand still was a toddler. Years later they had a little tea house at the Jordaan in Amsterdam, where every musician was welcome to jam (see video below). There Sahand could develop his talents as a musician.

Kingdom of Clay premiered at the International Storytelling Festival Amsterdam in November 2013. This month they will perform in Amsterdam and The Hague, followed by a longer tour in the UK in March. I sent Sahand some questions by email about the show. Continue reading