Let me introduce you to Manouela Menty with her powerful and spiritual voice accompanied by the old Indian instrument Daf to bring you into another dimension.
In this extended interview you will find all information about her inspiration, travels through the world, the musical path and influences as well as plans and experience but also 2 tracks that we recorded, so get ready to be inspired !
We hang out with our new friend Ishmael who showed us the city Essaouira and explained us a lot about the spiritual side and hippy culture here, from the past with Timothy Leary’s and Jimi Hendrix visit until now.
We stopped for a coffee in the Medina and he introduced us to Manouela and her Husband, who said:
”She’s not a regular singer – when she sings, she is a Diva”
Her talent for organizing was impressive and we talked while she was all the time on call, arranging meetings and gig’s for local bands.
We told her about the Studio and she had the idea to record at Les Terrasses D’Essaouira, called Elody and we were set up after one hour – impressive and the way to go to create!
Then we met on the very next day after another good night in our small car – waking up and seeing the Camels passing along – packed the stuff and went to the Hotel to get ready.
What you can find below is pure magic, the Andalusian traditional song “Lama Bada Yatathana” where she sings and plays the Daf, as well as the popular Balkan Folk song “Ederlezi” together with Elody Graff on the Clarinete.
“… Love and unity change the people and the world. Save the nature means to save us. Enjoy and be cool!”
Hey Manouela, thank you for this great time and that you had this fantastic idea to record in the Rijad, please introduce yourself:
Where are you from, for how long are you singing?
I was born in France, my Mother is French and my father is kabyl (Berber of Algeria).
I’ve been singing since I was a little girl, on my first scene, I was 6 years old and I was in summer camp!
Your voice and positive energy really remind me of the music from Macedonian singer Esma Redžepova,
there is a lot of passion in it !
Where did you learned to sing so powerful?
Oh yes, Esma! The queen of the gypsies! She inspires me with her songs. I never learned to sing, it’s the gift of life, the inspiration of my travels, the energy of the roots that lives inside of me. I let go my voice, it is free as a bird!
What was the moment, that you knew you want to start singing and also playing concerts?
I used to sing to friends. I was often asked to join groups, but I worked in socio-cultural animation. Then, in 2013, I met with other singers, together we formed the polyphonic group “Ni Kantas”, I had the desire to become a professional.
I then formed 3 other bands (Balkan music, jazz and soul, Latin music). Already 5 years old!
Impressive, please let us know your favorite musicians, bands and songs that inspired you and what do you like so much about these artists?
I like all the music! No artists favored in particular, but rather a passion for traditional music, especially middle-East music.
At the age of 15, while my friends were listening to hard-rock, I was already listening and singing Israeli, Indian or African music.
Oriental music offers beautiful vocal notes, which gives velvety to the voice and many emotions.
My roots certainly speak! I like to read the lyrics of Turkish authors, poetry is very beautiful and romantic.
The unavoidable texts of Rumi and Hafez, Iranian heritage, it’s strong in symbolism, wise words that our world needs!
But also the flamenco, which takes to the guts when you sing it.
For French artists, I grew up around the musical ambiances of Serge Gainsbourg, Bernard Lavilliers or Hubert-Félix Thiéfaine. Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens’s texts are essential!
Wow, tell us, what means “Music” to you, how does a world without music would look like?
Without music, no life! From our conception, in the womb of our mother, we hear the sounds, from the beat of the heart, from the rhythm at every step, from the world that surrounds us.
Then we emit new sounds, and we learn to speak, the sounds end up becoming familiar. It is clear that a musical training makes it possible to work the ear well, but even without training, the child recognizes sounds, notes and memorizes them.
For me, music is an integral part of us, we sing and dance spontaneously since time immemorial.
A world without music is impossible! Music liberates us and soothes us, as if it brings us a sweetness of being so we feel good at his side!
The music would be like a chair on which we sit, we rest there like a cotton cloud, so much the music opens our inner energy through the harmonization of instruments and voices.
Very nice, music is every – all the time !
We had some relaxed coffees and time to talk, during this time you mentioned about your time in Romania where you also made music!
Please tell us about your journey in life, where did you lived and how you came to Essaouira?
Yes, I traveled to Romania a little over 10 years ago, I even lived in a Gypsy village!
I had the opportunity to meet the group Nadara Gypsy Band, whom I accompanied on European tour, I was baby-sitter and dancer!
Then at the Cannes Film Festival where I directed a teaser of the band with my video friend Valérie Beneyt.
I like spending time with people from different cultures, they have so much to teach and share.
Trips to Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Tunisia and Spain have enriched my repertoire. In 2015, in Bordeaux, Romania came back to me! Marian Cobzaru, Romanian virtuoso accordionist asked me to play with him, we created the Maashka group.
For three years, we played a repertoire of music from the Balkans, but also Turkish, Serbian, Iranian music. A Balkan ambience quartet with a cymbalum and double bass!
At first, I wanted to develop my international projects in order to make a tour of the trip of my show O’Zaman, played for two years in France.
O’Zaman is a musical trip of the Gypsy people from India to Andalusia. On the southern road, the Gypsy people will meet with the Arab and Jewish peoples until they migrate to Andalusian country where they will create Flamenco art together.
I had a lot of contacts with producers in Spain and to Morocco. Good, it’s not far away from France. Carlos Peirats, one of them told me about the Festival Atlantique des Andalouses in Essaouira, the Festival des Musiques Sacrées in Fes, and a lot of French Institute and French Alliance.
This city has become my source of inspiration in writing, I come there regularly to compose or write my many unfinished works. I don’t know if it’s the light or the energy, but when the morning, you don’t stop to whrite until the night, there is somethink to happen!
Recently, I have produced my show at the French Institute of Essaouira, in march I will play for the Francophony week in the French Alliance in Safi.
I wait for the other festivals in Morocco, and in other countries concerning O’Zaman’s musical trip: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Iran and India. In transit to Bordeaux, between Morocco and Paris, enriching me with various meetings of musicians from the Middle East.
The next trip will surely be Egypt or Lebanon, going to the lands of Asmahan and Oum Keltoum, perfecting my Arabic and singing their songs that touch me greatly. A big program!!
Wow, a lot of experience and a lot of projects ongoing !
You play also the Daf, a middle eastern frame drum that brings a special vibe to the songs,
what other Instruments you are playing and since when?
I discovered the daf in Istanbul in 2014, I was there for concerts. I came back with a used daf in my luggage to accompany me to sing. I was already playing derbouka, but I was looking for a more spiritual sound for my repertoire of sacred and traditional music.
It’s not exactly a daf I’m playing with, it’s a Brahman drum from India. In 2016, when I had a concert with musician and singer Canan Domurcakli, my daf broke under the stuffy summer heat.
I had two hours to find a percussion! Ziaf Ben Youssef, a tunisian oudist, had told me about a music library in Bordeaux where I come from.
Bingo! In the morning, the lady had received four drums from Brahman, I had only the embarrassment of choice! For years I have been tapping on tables, flamenco palmas, working unthoughtful rhythms, I let my hands do (like my voice) but I am not percussionist!
I will if I work my rhythms! My father is a very good percussionist, the derbouka is not a secret for my kabyle musician family, which I inherited gracefully!
Let’s go over to the first released song – “Ederlezi” together with Elody Graff.
At first, what is your story, where did you met and started to play together?
You two play very good together – That is also the feedback I received to your track!
I met Elodie Graff on Essaouira at a concert, I invited her to play along with Moroccan guitarist Santana, a virtuoso with whom I like to play, because he really accompanies me in my singing. Just like Elodie who makes double voices in clarinet. We had one song in common, Ederlezi, an opportunity to record it since everyone was present that day!
Thank you and here it is!
Manouela, you told me that you have plans for the future, collaborating with artists all around this planet, please tell us more about your plans !
Yes, during my travels to Spain and Morocco, I met many interesting artists and producer, people who opened their hearts to me.
New projects could emerge, not as a singer but as a tour manager, for which I had some experiences with French groups.
I have organized two evenings on Essaouira with the manouche jazz group Regard Swing, passing through Morocco and the proposals come to me, from musicians from Israel or Turkey. To see how the network is developing. That said, I am also taking care of my O’Zaman travel tour!
Good Luck with that!
Is it easy for you to get concerts, are you playing a lot?
How do you prepare for a live show?
I’ve been singing since I was little, but on stage, it’s only recent. I have been performing
since May 2013, I started with a duo jazz soul, not simple the first concert. I like to be on stage, I forget everyone and I give what I have to give.
What comes out of my voice is a gift to the public as well as to me, I ecstatic myself with the well-being of singing, emitting the most improbable sounds. During five years, I had between three and five projects, there was plenty to do!
Every concert is different, the atmosphere is unique. Before each performance, I like to be alone and quiet, vocalize gently as if I were singing a sweet song. I like to take the time to dress like the other me on stage is out tonight.
What do we get when we see you live?
More Mystical and Hypnotic Middle Eastern and Balkans songs?
Your own songs? Andalusian Music?
I sing as much a repertoire of the influences of the Balkans as of the Middle East, including different languages, like the romanes (gypsy), Arabic, through the hebrew and turkish, iranian, kurdish, macedonian, Serbian, Romanian, Hindi.
My compositions are written in French, Spanish or English, some are in an electro groove style, others more traditional, or with swing influences, but all this is not yet ready.
Andalusian music would be more associated with flamenco, I actually sing some Palos, tangos and syguiriya
Let’s talk about the next song we recorded, “Lama Bada Yatathana”, please tell us more about the song.
Where does it come from and why did you choose to play it?
This song is the most famous muachah in the Arab world, with a peculiarity of having only one rhythm in 10 times, which is called the Samai. Muachahs are free-structured poems, which originated in Muslim Andalusia at the end of the VIII century, and later in Cairo and Aleppo.
I discovered this beautiful song by Lena Chamamyan, a Syrian singer. I made my version of it to the Indian daf
When she appeared with her proud step
My love seduced me by its beauty
Ah, how enslaved I was!
It’s a twig that captivates when it bends
Ah, what a mess she put me in!
I have no sympathy for my complaint
because of the pain this love causes me?
May the Queen of Beauty!
Thank you, and here it is, get hypnotized!!!
Wonderful and good vibes, Manouela and Elody, I have another question for you:
If you could be live at any concert, in the past or in the future, which one you would see?
In the Festival of the sacred music of Fes
How was the experience for you to work together with “Hit The Road Music Studio” and be part of this project?
A nice meeting, we were able to join our projects easily, both with Hit the Road Music and with Elodie, when the passion is there!
A meeting of life, a strongly shared experience, by meeting other artists. Weaving links seems natural to me, so when it comes to my trade and exchange, I put my skills as an organizer at the service of this little magical world, which is the world of music.
Thank you again for your work and your generosity, it will only come out good things for the future, and in all humility.
Thanks so much for your time and the good words, do you have anything you like to tell the world?
You like to send greetings out?
Love and unity change the people and the world. Save the nature means to save us. Enjoy and be cool!
We will !!! It was fantastic to record together thank you so much for this great experience, I will never forget this day
I wish you a bright musical future and that you stay as you are
Thank you so Much Adrian, have a good musical road also!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it !!! Here you will find more links to contact Manouela and get more info:
Facebook and her webpage >> Here << as well as youtube where you find more music !