Rokia Traoré’s thoughts on refugees and colonisation

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!

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Pussy Riot: more professional

This blog has been quiet for a long time due to lack of time, but we are going to make it up to you. Today I saw a new video of the female Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Wow, what a difference with the anarchist-low-budget clips of the beginning. No more colored balaclavas, no more shouting, no more crappy guitars and bad camerawork. Their newest video ‘Chaika’ is well produced, directed by Andrey Fenochka and Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. The music is super mellow, hip hop-like, made by the American musician and producer Dave Sitek. The cause for the clip is the documentary of the Russian political activist Alexei Navalny. He unraveled the ties between Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, and the country’s mafia (source: The Rolling Stone)

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Unilever, clean up your mess!

To complain about gum and skin allergies is not very sexy. How clever of campaigning organization Jhatkaa to ask rapper Sofia Ashraf to help out. A video directly addressed to consumer goods giant Unilever for exposing residents of Kodaikanal, India, to toxic mercury contamination, went viral. Not only because of the music, it is based on the pop-hit Anaconda, but also because of the lyrics.

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Bulletproof Stockings: female empowerment

The other day I was reading about the alternative rock band Bulletproof Stocking. The band based in New York, consists of Hasidic women. This caught me by surprise, because I reckoned that there is a taboo on female chant in this ultra-orthodox Jewish community. In an article (NRC. Next, August 27, 2014) founder, singer and keyboard player Perl Wolfe explains that men aren’t allowed to listen to female chant, because it may seduce them. However, that commandment is true merely for men. The solution is that Bulletproof Stockings plays for an only-female audience. Of course this evokes some juicy headlines.

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Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region

Amsterdam – On Sunday, June 15, a group of Arab writers, artists and journalists, gathered in the famous pop venue the Melkweg, to tell their stories in word, song, film, and theater. This event called Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region, was organized by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch. The program featured music and keynote addresses by Reem Maged and Yassin Al-Haj Saleh.

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A call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed

For the third time in three years artist and human rights activist Mouad Belghouat, alias El Haqed (The Indignant) or L7a9ed, got arrested on Sunday 18 May 2014. “El Haqed has been targeted for his political views and his participation in Morocco’s February 20th movement: On 20 February 2011, what began as a group of Moroccans expressing their frustration with the status quo grew to a nationwide movement that demanded change in Morocco.” (Free L7a9ed – Music is not a crime). Filmmaker, photographer and activist Nadir Bouhmouch put a video on his You Tube channel to call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed.

L7a9ed
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No desire to be a good girl – an interview with Yasmine Hamdan

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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