Tinariwen is a musical ensemble which hails from the Saharan desert region of Mali in Africa. Originally founded in 1979, members of Tinariwen are all Tuareg people. The culmination of Tinariwen’s journeys and experiences result in rhythmic and meditative performances. The translation of traditional Tuareg musical styles on modern, electric instruments creates a truly synergistic groove. Eyadou says, the sound of music is better than any weapon. Beyond that, the live experience of Tinariwen is something that everyone can feel. A palpable vibe and steady rhythm fill the air, sailing on a desert voyage of electric imagination…
Tinariwen signifies “deserts”. Can you tell us about some of the desert regions of the world you have passed through?
I have passed through the desert where we come from in the Sahara, but also Joshua Tree, and in Australia. Many deserts in fact.
What do you find beautiful about the desert?
It is quiet so you can meet the peace within you. You can feel it.
How does the desert inspire you musically?
It is our homeland; It is where we were born and raised. So, it is part of us. It inspires us because it is our life.
What types of social and political issues forced you or your bandmates to be nomadic?
We’ve been having issues since the decolonization. Since the independences following the colonization of France, the borders that had been decided by France and the Western countries mixed different African cultures and peoples together, which led to issues amongst the different communities.
How did these political issues affect the music?
Music is the first tool that helped us to feel free. We are messengers of our people and we help to spread the message of our people through the music. The message is also political as we are rebels because we don’t accept what the Malian government has been doing against our community.
What is this message that you hope to communicate through music?
We speak about our freedom and about having our independent state. Fortunately we also sing about nature, and love.
What role does music play in the culture of Mali?
Malian people wouldn’t have known that much about Tuareg music because it was forbidden by the Malian government. It had even been forbidden to listen to Tinariwen.
Is this musical expression still forbidden?
No, but it is still not really accepted.
Have the state of affairs improved or worsened over the years?
Our freedom is difficult, but it is something we will work on until we get it.
The band was established in 1979, has cycled through some new members, and still continues on through this time.
Yes. Tinariwen is like a Tuareg constitution- the “embassy” so to speak.
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