One of the highlights of this year’s Rainforest World Music Festival was the scorching performance by Moroccan Amazigh band Oudaden. World Music Central’s Angel Romero had the opportunity to talk to the band’s manager, Brahim El Mazned.
When was the group formed?
The group was formed on 1984 so this year it’s 25 years old. They are now a famous Amazigh group in Morocco. Amazigh means Berber.
What is the situation of the Amazigh language and culture?
Now it’s developed a lot and I think the Amazigh culture is one part of Morocco’s identity so these ten last years it has developed better. So the situation is better than before. The current situation way is ok. Now we can study Berber at school. We can see more Berber broadcasts on TV and there is a new Berber TV coming in the future so I think it’s OK. We haven’t arrived but it’s OK.
What is the connection between the Amazigh culture in Morocco and in Algeria?
It’s the same culture, but the political situation between Morocco and Algeria is complicated. There is a lot of contact between the two populations, but the political situation is not very good between the two states.
What musical influences does the group have?
I think the Amazigh culture is more developed and more important in Morocco, and more diversified. So I think it’s richer. And also people in Morocco are very interested in this culture.
What are the musical influences of Oudaden?
Oudaden gives a new spirit to music in Morocco and a new dynamic to Berber music. When you see Oudaden play for more than 100,000 people, it’s amazing. And I think the groups like Oudaden and Sansaren, for example, another group in southern morocco, really means that amazigh culture is contemporary.
What instruments does the group play?
They play traditional instruments like percussion: bendir, karkabou…
Are Karkabou the metal castanets?
Yes, the metal castanets. Also, ganga.
What is ganga?
It’s an instrument for Gnawa musicians.
Is that like the tbal?
Yes, like a tbal. And also banjo and the guitar.
Is the banjo used like the American banjo?
I think so. We saw a lot of western films so perhaps that’s why. And the banjo is very close to the lotar in the sounds.
Where is the group based?
And what is the music scene like in Agadir?
Agadir is in the south of Morocco. The area is very influenced by Berber culture so it’s very very rich with this culture. There are a lot of musicians playing in Berber. It has a very dynamic culture. And also the area around Agadir is very beautiful
You are also the artistic director of a well known music festival in Morocco. Tell us more about that.
It’s a new festival in Morocco, created in 2004 The name is Timitar That means signs and this festival gives a lot of importance to Berber music and the theme of the festival is Amazigh artists and invited music from the world so every year we invite Berber musicians from Morocco and also outside Morocco and we invite famous world music artists
Where is the festival held?
In Agadir. We’ve had Youssou N’Dour, Omou Sangare, Jimmy Cliff, Gilberto Gil, Carlinhos Brown, etc.
Who is behind the festival?
The region of Agadir and also sponsors. Every year we have half a million people.
When is it held?
The first week of July every year.