Natacha Atlas

Interview - Natacha Atlas

worldbeatcanada radio – INTERVIEW



Natacha Atlas - Mounqualiba


Natacha Atlas

‘Mounqualiba – In A State Of Reversal’



"Let that which stood in front go behind, let that which was behind advance to the front, let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions, let the old propositions be postponed."
Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) US poet

worldbeatcanada radio: If by namesake alone, Natacha Atlas is a certifiable citizen of the world.  Born to parents who would not tolerate borders and boundaries, she was a pillar in the construction of worldbeat with TransGlobal Underground, and now as one of the genre’s singular voices, she continues, a sincere explorer into music’s inherent diversity. We interviewed her in person just prior to the release of the new Mounqaliba album.

Natacha Atlas: Hi this is Natacha Atlas and you're moving to the beat of a better world, worldbeatcanada radio.

WBC: Congratulations on Ana Hina. I know that’s very belated at this point and congratulations should be forthcoming on the next release, Mounqaliba, but we seldom get the chance to properly express our appreciation to the musicians who inspire you. Have you ever had an opportunity to express your appreciation to an artist who has affected you positively?

NA: Yeah, I think I get the opportunity to do that, sometimes in a studio session sometimes at a festival where I get to meet another musician or sometimes on stage because we're doing something together, you know? I've had those opportunities/

WBC: Can you give us a little of the inspiration behind the music on Ana Hina?

NA: It was a lot about taking songs that I had heard as a child and reinterpreting them and also, in a way, it is paying homage to those artists that inspired me when I was younger. And, also I wanted to try doing something different. I've done a lot of the electronic stuff for so long that it was an opportunity for me to do something more orchestrated, less based on techno.

WBC: You make magical moments out of the songs you chose to cover. Tunes like It’s A Man’s World and I Put A Spell On You have been thoroughly reimagined by you. Do the blues or deep soul lend themselves to the shaabi style?

NA: I think because the blues are rootsy and so is shaabi so there is a link somewhere. I don't really know how, but it's just sort of the rawness and the rootsiness of both those musics have a connection somewhere.

WBC: Yesterday I saw you at one of the festival workshops/collaborations. You and your band were jamming with Ontario’s eccodek, Finlay Quaye and Oka from Australia. Do you enjoy those impromptu descargas or does it kind of put one on the spot?

NA: It's all about behaving one's self really; knowing when to engage and when to leave space. Sometimes it's more difficult. The first one was a little more haphazard but that was because unfortunately that bus that was to pick us up at the hotel went off with someone else in it. So, there was a delay in the transport and when we were supposed to be on stage, we were trying to set up the sound. So, through nobody's fault it ended up being a little more haphazard than the second time. 

WBC: worldbeatcanada radio is on the pod with the great Natacha Atlas. Drop in on her world. You have the technology and my space is the place. . What material did you contribute to the new Sex In The City movie?

NA: Oh, it was a song called Kidda. I think it's from Halim actually, one of my older albums. I have yet to see the film but apparently it's quite a comical moment and my song lasts for quite a long time. Apparently, it's very fitting where it is. It's nice that it got in there.

WBC: I bet you're going to pick up a whole bunch of new fans from that.


NA: I hope so.

WBC: Have you enjoyed your work as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Conference Against Racism?


NA: It's nice to be a part of something that represents something good so it's always great to do that.

WBC: I really love the Hayati Inta Reprise from Ana Hina and the closer is one of my favorites. As we close our conversation can you tell us a bit about El Newm?


NA: Oh, well that for me was one of the special songs on the album. It's inspired by one of these contemporary composers, a Lebanese composer named Ziad Moultaka who was influenced by Stravinsky. I just adore this guy. He's really avant-garde but he's phenomenal. I think it stands out on the album because although it's acoustic, it's slightly dark, engaging and mysterious. I really like that song.


Natacha Atlas was interviewed 5 minutes before taking the main stage at the 2010 Vancouver Folk Music Festival