Tamikrest – Community In Common Ground

Following the path trodden out of the Saharan deserts by fellow Touareg musicians Tinariwen, come Tamikrest. The word ‘Tamikrest’ means ‘junction’, ‘alliance’ and ‘future’. Tamikrest are ambassadors of Touareg culture, deeply rooted in its tradition, representing its youth, fighting for international recognition of the plight of their people. Their recordings have found the most unlikely of homes in Glitterhouse Records of Germany, traditionally considered the European home of all things alt-country/Americana. Their debut long-player, Adagh,  has already transcended the group’s association with Tinariwen in the pretty much the same way the Stooges outgrew the tag of ‘baby brother band’ given them by John Sinclair and the MC5 to establish their group as the paradigm rebel rockers of any genre currently operating on the planet today. April 2011 saw the release of Tamikrest’s sophomore long player, Toumastin (Glitterhouse), an expansion and refinement of their signature sound, and an essential purchase for anyone who still believes that music can affect change. Tamikrest play the UK later this summer in support of Toumastin, they promise to be some of the most vibrant, engaging and inspirational performances happening on these shores this year.

EYEPLUG were recently lucky enough to get the chance to quiz Tamikrest about the development of their career thus far, this is what they had to say:

EYEPLUG: Firstly, may I wish you all a hearty welcome to the pages of EYEPLUG.  Secondly, before we discuss your music, I thought it would be beneficial to add some background for our readers on the struggle faced on a daily basis by your people. On your website, the following message appears as a mission statement: ‘The Touareg demand that the injustice of which they are all victims ceases forthwith, that what is ours by right be restored to us, that’s to say, our lands and the power to determine our own destiny. The Touareg want to live in freedom in their homeland and end of this form of colonisation, which has prevailed since fifty years, in other words, for far too long.’ Would you be kind enough to expand on that statement for us?

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Tamikrest: At the time of African independence, our territory was divided and spread over five countries: Mali, Niger, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. The recognition of our people has been banned, our community found itself marginalized and deprived of its territory. Since then, we have never ceased to demand the recognition of our rights and our ancient traditional culture.

Since decolonization, the Malian government has oppressed the community of Kel Tamashek, poisoning wells, mass killing in nomad camps, etc. There were massacres in our community. During the first revolution in 1963, Tuaregs were killed in a blood-bath. The youth of that time (in Mali, Niger) were forced to flee to Libya for military training and return to liberate our people. A second rebellion broke out against the central powers in Mali and Niger in the late 1980s. Peace agreements were signed in the early 1990s. The agreements were signed but 90% of the agreements were not implemented. The consequence of all this was the third rebellion of 2006. Peace accords were signed on 4 July 2006, in Algiers we still await their implementation.

EYEPLUG: Tamikrest came of age in January 2008, at the Festival Au Desert, during a mammoth jam session with Dirtmusic – what are your memories of that genesis?

Tamikrest: Tamikrest was founded in 2006. In 2008 we had an invitation to the Festival Au Desert. There we met Dirtmusic; we became friends, and then decided to make an album together. So, this lead to the first Tamikrest album, recorded in 2009. For us, it was a big and almost unbelievable chance as musicians. There are thousands of young musicians in Africa. Just because by accident we had a tent beside Dirtmusic`s tent, and one thing lead to another.

EYEPLUG: What were the seminal musical influences in the formation of the Tamikrest sound?

Tamikrest: The Tamikrest founding members all went to the same school in Tinzaouetene. We listened a lot to the traditional Tuareg sounds, as well as the new sounds of Tinariwen. With the first cassette players, we came across the western sounds of Bob Marley, Dire Straits and Jimi Hendrix. They became our new heroes. In 2010 we were on tour in Europe. There we could listen to other western superstars, like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Pink Floyd. Now our approach to music is heavily influenced by this experience, without losing our basic Tuareg sound.

EYEPLUG:  A year later, almost to the day, you subsequently recorded BKO, along with Dirtmusic. What filled the 12 months between those two events, and what do you recall of those recording sessions?

Tamikrest: When we left the Festival Au Desert and said goodbye to Dirtmusic, there had already been a loose idea of working together in the future. So we spent a lot of time practicing and working on new songs. With Dirtmusic we were in a professional studio for the first time in our lives. We absorbed and internalized everything we could get from the professional workings of a studio. We also learned a lot from these musicians about sound, equipment, and playing techniques. Thus our Tuareg rock sound was created.

EYEPLUG: It’s interesting to see your releases coming out on Glitterhouse Records – They are normally associated with alt-country and Americana artists – how did you hook up with them, and what convinced you they would provide the ideal home for your music?

Tamikrest: Glitterhouse is Dirtmusic’s label. We played as the backing band on their album BKO, released by Glitterhouse. Glitterhouse’s co-owner, Peter Weber, became our manager. So, it all came together with Glitterhouse. We don`t know the European music market very well, but they told us that the market for music is getting smaller and smaller nowadays. More and more people don`t pay for music. So the label has to look for new markets, new chances in business. They opened up to world music in the last few years. In 2010, Glitterhouse got an award for a Top Ten world music label, Womex. Besides Tamikrest, they also produce Lobi Traore, from Mali, and this year they will produce a new young band from Mali. The world is getting smaller, and so we all have to get closer to each other. Music is world-spanning . . . Or, as Bob Marley says: One world, one voice!

EYEPLUG: July 2009 saw the release of your debut long player, Adagh – tell us about the meaning of the album’s title, and the writing and recording process for that release.

Tamikrest: ‘Adagh’ is a landscape in the Sahara where we grew up. The majority of songs for Adagh had been written long before we met Dirtmusic. Some songs were recorded at the Maison Luxembourg, in Kidal.

EYEPLUG: In 2010 you toured Europe for the first time, visiting 12 countries in the process – tell us about the tour, and how it felt taking your music to a new audience.

Tamikrest: I still can remember our first gig ever in Europe – in Stuttgart. We had been very nervous and highly tense, but people were excited about our show, and with every other show we got more self-confident. Our last show was in Budapest, at the Sziget Festival. Half-a-million visitors, unbelievable for us! It was a great experience for us to play all over Europe. Sometimes it was very strange for us to be involved in another cultural situation, but we learned fast, and everybody was very friendly and helpful. So we went home happy, and we are now looking forward to coming back.

EYEPLUG: In October 2010 you set to work on the follow-up to Adagh, the absolutely awe-inspiring Toumastin. The album is a great leap forward from what was a truly remarkable debut – again, tell us the meaning of the album’s title, and a little about the writing and recording process employed in its creation.

Tamikrest: ‘Toumastin’ means ‘my community’, ‘my people’. The songs of Toumastin speak first to my community and mention the problems it faces. We had two months after the end of our tour in Europe to write the songs for Toumastin. In October 2010, we returned to the studio Bogolan, in Bamako, for recording under the leadership of our friend, Chris Eckman.

EYEPLUG: Do you consider the progression between both albums to be part of a continual process? I hear echoes of Bob Dylan’s ‘Desire’ in ‘Dihad Tedoun Itran’, the closing track on Toumastin. What can we expect from the follow-up to Toumastin when it appears?

Tamikrest: We recorded Toumastin straight after the tour in Europe. Of course, our experience in listening to western musicians like Bob Dylan has influenced our style. We moved forward without losing our roots. What you can expect for the next album? I don`t know yet, but in the end we will follow the road we started to take.

EYEPLUG: You are set to visit Europe again this year, including some shows in the UK this summer – what do you like about our country, and what do you find troubling, if anything?

Tamikrest: I can remember exactly when we left the continent to travel by ferry to England. You can imagine that we had never seen so much water before. We have only been to London, this big confusing city. I remember it had been very stressful. Lots of traffic, hectic, but people also welcomed us, very friendly, and helpful. The audience was great, and we enjoyed very much playing.

EYEPLUG: What have you got planned for the rest of 2011 once the tour has finished?

Tamikrest: We will go back to Mali on 30 July and we will return to Europe on 1 November. The days in between we want to be with our families and friends, but we must also start working on new songs for the next album. Of course we will also play some shows in our home country.

EYEPLUG: Finally, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at EYEPLUG – have you got a parting message for our readers?

Tamikrest: I thank the readers of EYEPLUG for their interest in Tamikrest, and through us, also the  community of  Kel Tamashek. I appreciate the attention you have for the messages of our songs.

Tamikrest Links:



Simon Morgan – Eyeplug – May 2011

Simon Morgan

Punk rocker, folk strummer, baby social worker, and parent, Simon Morgan is a polymath. He has brought you many things in his time – as Jean Encoule he created the legendary trakMARX website, but has now stepped from behind his alter ego to reveal his true, vibrant colours. Despite having gone prematurely orange, he maintains a youthful open-mindedness, which he combines with his vast experience and ready wit. His debut solo album, Domestic Abuse is now available. “Spirit/Is Life/It flows through/The death of me/ Endlessly/Like a River/ Unafraid/Of Becoming/The sea.” (Gregory Corso)

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Originally posted 2011-05-21 12:09:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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