The Quietus | News | Fatoumata Diawara talks about the Edinburgh International Festival
It’s no surprise that Mali-born and now Italy-based musician, activist and actress Fatoumata Diawara is back on the road as coronavirus restrictions began to ease across Europe this summer. His work has always been defined by a sense of movement, whether it is through music that skips effortlessly between genres and disciplines, his physical collaborations with musicians of all stripes and nationalities, and sometimes simply in theme; among many other numbers, his latest album Fenfo – Something to say, written and recorded in different countries, explored modern emigration
Even in confinement, his music has struggled to cross borders. The recent single Ambé, a beautiful and drifting track, saw Diawara recruit a host of musicians of African descent – Dianne Reeves, China Moses, Somi, Terri Lyne Carrington, Angelique Kidjo, Mayra Andrade, Inna Modja and Thandiswa Mazwai – all in Alternatively. voice in a powerful rebuff to the fragmentation and isolation of the pandemic.
There is no replica, however, for the connecting power of performance, live and live, that Diawara brings to the UK next month as this relentless schedule brings him to the Edinburgh International Festival. . She and her band perform at Edinburgh Park on August 27th. To find out more about his concert comeback, new tracks and plans for the show in Scotland, tQ caught up with Diawara via email.
tQ: How have you found your return to live in recent weeks?
Fatoumata Diawara: The experience of being on stage in recent weeks is like renewing yourself, being reborn. So I feel stronger. It’s very different going to the audience, because people are seated most of the time, so it’s quite interesting, and at the same time a big challenge for us on stage. We try to rediscover ourselves. Of course, during confinement I was thinking about how I could get back on stage. So there are new voices in the show, and the performance is a bit different.
tQ: Was it weird playing in front of socially distant crowds?
It was very strange for us, at the beginning, the distance between the audience and us. I thought to myself, “How can I adapt to these new situations? “At first it was very strange, but now it’s starting to be quite normal, we adapt and the public too.
Do you see Ambé as a unique single, or is there more new music to come? If so, what can we expect from you next?
Ambé is a single, there may be one or two more singles, then the new songs come in [after that] will be on my next album. We’re not going to wait too long for the next album, I’m recording, preparing new stuff, I’m very excited that people can listen to it ASAP.
I understand this song was written during lockdown and was a direct response to the hardships of that time. Has COVID influenced you with other work?
Making this song, while in confinement was really necessary and important to me. Because I was wondering, what could I do? What could I do to be the voice of how we can represent unity and peace, restore love to people, to the world, and remind them that we are all together and all one? I had to release this single. I’m great, super happy to have this chance. We were all delighted to do this job. It was a good time for us to join in with each other and try to share something together. All the ladies were super happy to be working on the project, we were very, very happy.
What did you learn by working with all the different singers who appeared on Ambé?
That it is love, love and also sharing, seeing my sisters, talking with them, taking the time to work with other people. Most of the time with our own work it’s very hard, we spend a lot of time with ourselves, our own projects. You don’t have time to open your soul to different artists. So even though I often do a lot of collaborations, this story with the ladies has been very important to me. Because they are my sisters. Most of the time I work with men, I haven’t had the chance to work with women. So for me that was a big challenge because they’re all loud, powerful and beautiful voices. At the beginning, I wanted to call the project “leaders”, because I am a huge fan of all the women leaders in the world. It was like a dream come true. I am very proud of myself and of all the sisters who have truly accepted me to join me for this challenge.
What can we expect from your show at the Edinburgh International Festival?
I want people to feel happy after the show. I want them to feel totally different at the end, that’s the most important thing for me. The feeling of the public after the show. I really hope people end up feeling free in their minds, a free soul, some kind of healing, you know? I would like to bring this good feeling to the people of Edinburgh.
Fenfo was created across different countries and continents, not being able to travel must have been particularly difficult?
Yes of course. I was about two years old before the first lockdown, and luckily we started filming really early, so we had shot a lot before the first lockdown. I could do two American tours, a lot of big festivals in Europe, and now we’re trying to carry on with all the places we couldn’t go. We’re trying to adapt, to come back to all these new situations, you know. But we had good press, great things before confinement, so I hope that will continue!
Fatoumara Diawara performs at the Edinburgh International Festival on Friday August 27th. Learn more and find tickets here