LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE
“Stand up for the things that are right. Try to talk things out instead of fight.”
worldbeatcanada radio: Global music artists are citizens of the world and can turn up just about anywhere. In Vancouver we're lucky enough to share our city with one of West Africa's best guitarists. Alpha Yaya Diallo is also an impassioned songwriter and a man of science with an abiding respect for the planet we call home, and its people. His sixth album, Imme is a lush departure from previous recordings and it's capped with the socio-environmental ode, The Climate Is The Heart.
Alpha Yaya Diallo: This is Alpha Yaya Diallo. I hope you are enjoying my new album, Imme.
WBC: Let's talk first about the lush sound on this new disc and Jesse Zubot's violin. It adds so m uch to the mix. Why did you two decide to collaborate?
Alpha: When I decided to record this album, I was talking to Jack (Schuller of Jericho Beach Records), different people and they mentioned Jesse Zubot's name. I said, "Yes, I worked with Jesse before. We did a Canada Council Project called Sonic Wave in Europe together ..."
WBC: Oh, with Steve Dawson!
Alpha: Yes. So I said, "Yes, let's try and bring a new element." Then we started this project and Jesse brought the idea that we should get a thick drum sound and mix African sounds with contemporary instruments. So, we tried it and you kinow, it works because the violin is fantastic with African music. I know other groups have tried that like the Afro Celt Sound System. Some African insturments have the same sound as a violin, but we don't have those instruments here. Why not use what we have handy?
WBC: Last time we spoke we were joking about your album titles have been in Fulani, French and English, and we both were speculating on what language your next album title would be in. So, the title Imme, what does it mean and what language is it in?
Alpha: Imme is Fulani and it means 'Get up' (or Rise up). You know, we're facing different things in this world today, from climate change to political issues to immigration, political instability ... so I'm saying Imme. We have to get ready because we don't know what's coming to us. Like what came to Haiti a few days a go, things like that. We have to be really ready to fight against bad things, violence ... any ill the world is facing today.
WBC: There's plenty to choose from right now.
WBC: worldbeatcanada radio is on the pod with Alpha Yaya Diallo who delivered a brand new baby named Imme. Get familiar with the man and his music online at www.alphayayadiallo.com. Alpha, you've acquired musical and cultural traditions from around West Africa, would you say that the introduction of Jesse's violin represents you absorbing a Canadian influence maybe?
Alpha, Ya, absolutely. You know, music's about learning. Music's about evolution. I'm from Africa but I play world music. Any instrument can be made to match, be it the violin or keyboards, piano, Hammond organ ... i introduce all those elements in my music. And, Jesse is a talented musician first of all. He's familiarized himself with all kinds of music too. So, basically his influence on this album was not just in the production but in the musicianship. The Climate Is The Heart, if you listen to that song you'll hear the Irish influence in the song which is a distinctive non-African characteristic.
WBC: I want to ask you about that. We'll wrap up this conversation with The Climate Is The Heart, definately one of my favorites on the album. I think the CD is fantastic. Can you tell me about the song and tell me about _Sanjay Khanna who helped write?
Alpha: Sanjay is an environmental journalist in Vancouver. Actually, he was ready to go to Copenhagen for the climate conference. i was mentioning to him that I wanted to talk a little about the climate. Then his wrote this paragraph which turned into part of the lyrics and I mixed them with African and since my jEnglish is getting better and better I say, "There are other African musicians singing in English; Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, these people all sing some things in English." I've been living in Vancouver for so many years, so i tried it. Because, I want to be able to communicate with people. i want people to understand what I'm doing and what I'm feeling. So, it's not much, just a little bit of English lyrics so they can get the point of my ideas.
Alpha Yaya Diallo was interviewed backstage on January 16th , 2010 for worldbeatcanada radio