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03 Feb

Ibrahim Maalouf Interview

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At the crossroads of musical paths, Ibrahim Maalouf is in the heart of time, where transgressions are allowed.  Musically spoken, Ibrahim Maalouf is not bound by jazz, nor he is by the heritage of Arabic influences. He looks around further and notices other forms of expressions and adapts that too, with his own power, with a touch of rock even. He came to Gazarte  to present his last album "Illusions" and that was the opportunity for a little talk.

PG -  Why "Illusions"  for title, I mean things are going pretty well for you and this is not an illusion ...
This is an album that speaks of many things. This s a theme I always wanted to work on with my music. Without making a big speech in two words it is the other side of reality.The concept of the image we have for things or people and the difference  with the reality. This is something that has always fascinated me.And I wanted to treat the subject in a fairly relaxed way. I wanted to be serious without taking me seriously, and I have a very nice team with who it is possible to do so. I hope you understand what I mean:  If I make music it is because I do not express myself very well with words ….

PG - How would you characterize your music? You have said  "I think by definition jazz is a mixture of full of trends. But basically I do not care, I do not have a problem not to be considered a jazz musician and I am quite honored to be if this is the case ....... Arabic music and Western classical music are my two mother tongues. When you speak English, you have an accent when I play, I have an Arabic accent. " So where do you stand ?
I do not identify myself  through classification of the music but through what people feel when they listen to my music. For example when I go to Lebanon, they say to me  that my music is very inspired by Western music. And when I'm in a western country they say that my music is very inspired by Arabic music. When  jazzmen talk to me they tell me that they can feel that I love rock. When rock musicians talk to me , they say that they can feel that I love jazz ..... So you see everything  overlaps. I feel that I am in the center of  all this and I'm not trying to choose. Tonight we are going to play pieces of my last album which is more rock. It is going to be a surprise for some people because my previous album “Wind” was a tribute to Miles Davis. A completly different style, but now I want to do something else. I do not want to ban me. I want to feel free.

PG - There is a remake of one song of Rihanna in this album. In your first album, there was a remake of A Night in Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie, in the second, a piece of Fairuz and Michael Jackson in the Third album. Why is that ? Is it a ritual ?
It is true that there is a remake  in all my albums, except the fourth album "Wind". This is an exercise that I like. It is a way to make a wink to artists I like or who inspire me, or artists who are completely in  the subject i am working on , which is the case for Rihanna. The art of selling music - pretty good, I think. I like what she  does - through images.

PG- In addition to working on your album and touring, you have been working on many different projects,including a creation with a wizard for the Ile-de-France Festival, and you have composed three soundtracks. How difficult it is to work on so different things in the same time? 
First, I sleep less (laughs) ..... It is not difficult for me to move from one project to the other. It gives me inspiration. I don’t like to work on one project only.I feel trapped.By working on several projects at the same time, it gives me a better view and perspective, and then everything come faster. There is an interaction; one project feeds the others and vice versa.

GV: You come from a musician family; what were your earliest musical memories ?
My father was playing trumpet at home and my mother the piano. I grew up  listening only to classical Western music and classical Arabic traditional music played by my father with his trumpet, and that until the age of eight.Then, I began to discover other kind of musics like pop, rock , hard rock , hip hop and also electronic music. Jazz music came much later, when I was around 18.A friend of mine advised me to listen to Miles Davis and Chet Baker who for me at that time were complete strangers ! So I bought the album  Kind of Blue, without knowing what I was buying and I just left it on my desk for about six months, and then one day, I suddenly realized that I had never listen to it, so I did and of course I just loved it. It was a big discovery for me that someone could play the trumpet softly, in a way I never heard before. That was very inspiring. Later I listened to other musics  such as Balkanian music or from India , Africa etc…..  Listening to all different kind of music i I realized that there is plenty of things to take from each of them. And this is what I like to do.

GV - You musical career was a personal choice or under the pressure of you family ?
My father was pushing me until I was 18 years old. He insisted that I become a musician . But that was not what I wanted. I wanted to be architecte. So one day we had a conversation and he finally understood. And later, I decided to study music at Paris Conservatory

GV - Is there projects that you dream of doing (collaborations or other)?
Yes, a lot. But I do not work in this way. I may be lucky but very quickly when I arrived in Paris  I met quite extraordinary people. And  I was always open to meet people so I worked with a lot of different musicians ( great, good, and not so good musicians)  but all this was very rewarding, and interesting. I decided to forbid myself to forbid things. I always remained  open mind which allowed me to meet great people . That's how I played with Sting. It was not a dream come true , but it could have been;It just happened. Something I did not dream about but it ‘s a kind of a dream is writing music for movies. And I am doing it now.  I just take things as they come and just let it happen.

PG –  You play a lot in France. What about Lebanon ?
I usually play in Lebanon once a year no more because Lebanon is a small country and the musical culture in Lebanon is quite poor. This country has suffered from the war and the situation in the region does not help the country to develop culturally speaking.

Interview  February 2014 – Patricia Graire – George Voudiklaris

More about “illusion” http://www.jazzonline.gr/en/jazznews/cd-from-abroad/item/2466-illusions-%E2%80%93-ibrahim-maalouf.html
More about Ibrahim Maalouf http://www.jazzonline.gr/en/articlesinterviews/musicians-in-town/item/885-ibrahim-maalouf.html


Last modified on Thursday, 12 October 2017 18:04

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