Sounds of the Saharan Desert
 More of this Feature
• Tinariwen: Part One
• Tinariwen: Part Two
• Tinariwen: Part Three
• Tinariwen: Part Four
• Tinariwen: Part Five
  Related Resources
• Africa
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Tinariwen (official site)

IWM: Is your music enjoyed by Tuareg youth and/or Tuareg elders?

T: Our music has always been enjoyed by the youth…when we started in the 1980s we were in effect playing youth music. We were young, our friends were young and the people who listened to us were young. At that time the older people didn’t like what we did at all. It was strange and aggressive music for them. Now we’re a bit older and we appeal a bit more to older people. Everybody knows our songs.

IWM: With your success of Radio Tisdas Sessions and, most recently, Amassakoul, comes a high level of global visibility and responsibility. Do you see this as a positive or negative consequence? Do you feel you have to change your music to conform to Western audiences?

T: Definitely positive. Every musician, wherever he comes from, wants to be heard by as many people as possible. We’re no different…why should we be? We started singing, partly, to educate our brothers and sisters about the reality of life in the desert, of the future and of what we were facing. Now we educate the world about those things. The two CDs were just a way of getting out there, of talking to more and more people. We see it generally as being very positive.

Our music hasn’t really changed, and we certainly wouldn’t change it just to conform to western audiences. But every experience changes you as a musician in some significant way, so the fact that we have been travelling all over the world is bound to affect us in some way. If you listen to tapes of our music from way back in the mid 1980s you can hear some of the same songs we play now, and the same style of guitar two. The whole experience of the studio has change who people hear us. You have to get used to the studio, like you have to get used to an audience.

Article © 2005 Matthew J. Forss

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