World music innovator Natacha Atlas talks about her most recent remix album and her career.
Were you involved in the selection of the remixers on Mounqaliba Rising – Remixes?
Actually my record label in the US, Six Degrees, were great in choosing some really amazing remixers to work on these tracks. Of course I am a big fan (and friend) of Cheb I Sabbah and David Starfire. Samy Bishai and I remixed 2 tracks into one which we called Egypt: Rise To Freedom and it is up on youtube as a homage to the first Egyptian revolution. We also solicited remixes from some good friends of ours too that are on the album of remixes namely Zab Spencer, Syriana and DogBeats.
What do you think about the final result of the remixes?
All in all successful as it wasn’t a given thing really. I mean its not the easiest of albums to remix in a sense!
Mounqaliba Rising – Remixes includes collages of news reports about the Tahrir Square events in Egypt? What is your connection with Egypt?
Basically my connection – as well as Samy’s whom I did the track with – is that we both have family there and at the time of the first revolution in January this year we were both supposed to fly in but then things kicked off and all flights to and coming from Egypt were cancelled. So we were in London watching events on Al Jazeera and that’s what inspired us to do the remix and video – to support the people during that struggle.
You spent some time in Egypt and have supported the efforts to bring more freedom and democracy to Egypt. How do you see the current situation?
I think there is a lot going to happen and it’s going to take much courage and steadfastness from the Egyptian people to realize true freedom. However I know the Egyptian people are the most courageous and they are so determined to be strong and inform themselves of what is really going on. I have said more on my personal blogs about this situation which can be found on my website.
How is your music received in Egypt?
Well before the revolution I did a show there and it was a sold out, which was very encouraging. I have got a really nice and supportive fan base there now.
In this age of economic turmoil and social unrest, do you have a message you’d wish to impart through your music?
I guess mainly to question everything that you see and read on the news. Those in power have vested interest to distort the truth and we need to be checking things out all the time. Also we need to completely re-evaluate our current value system that supports corruption.
In addition to your extraordinary vocal abilities you are also a composer. Where do you get your inspiration from?
The world !
What evolutions have you found in your own sound over the course of your career in recording and touring? Any growing pains with that evolution?
Ohhh growing pains a plenty and evolutions well development is quite likely when you have been doing this as long as i have but I don’t know that i can explain it all in a sentence or two…so I will leave that question open)
In the past you have collaborated with global electronica pioneers like Jah Wobble and TransGlobal underground. What drew you musically to them?
Well I was introduced to them by Nation Records and I was a kid at the time so I wanted the experience more than anything and I learned a lot from it. It was my adolescence in the music business in a sense – good times too!
Will you be working with them again?
Oh I think that is likely somehow.
How do you collaborate with other musicians?
Well it helps if you like them because a dialog is always a good Start. The rest is different every time.
Your most recent recordings (excluding the remix album) went in an acoustic music direction. What plans do you have for your next album?
Errmmmmm, lets see…………..!
You’re quite a world traveler. Where are you based now?
I am still a bit of a gypsy with no fixed abode.
What music genres, groups or CDs are you currently listening to?
I listen to medieval music and I like Radiohead. Transglobal Underground are currently working on a collaboration with an Albanian gypsy group that sounds very cool. I listen to whatever anyone has got in their car stereo!!!
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.