I have been meaning to update the blog for a while now… In the same way as life is made of ups and downs, my levels of motivation and inspiration have this way of taking rollercoaster rides, creating severe inconsistency. While listening to the album I am about to write about today, I felt a desire to share. Again. At last. Add a friendly but firm virtual kick in the ass (thanks Keisha ;)) and you get a blog post. Hooray!
While this album is not “recent” by any musical industry standard (which I couldn’t care less about), it is new to my ears and probably many of yours. Hence its presence on the blog in my regular “Newness for your ears” category. Released in 2009, Chayé Kow has this type of timeless sound that makes it enjoyable from the day of its release till… infinity? I can’t vouch for that just now, but I can say that 5 years after it came out, it pleases my ears and that is all that matters to me. I actually first heard about French singer Érik several months before he finally released the album and it was beautiful to witness his journey from new, young artist with an innovative sound to well-known personality in the West Indies (he is hailing from the beautiful island of Guadeloupe) and mainland France. The first songs I heard, sometimes accompanied with beautiful videos, are present on Chayé Kow, making the album slightly familiar at first listen. While a couple of those tracks (On bel jouné and Si ou pa la) remain my favourites, all the ones I discovered were pleasant surprises and made my ears and my soul happy. Overall, the project is a comprehensive introduction to Érik’s universe and a lovely musical journey into his various influences. Singing both in Kréyol and in French, the young man tells us about love, loss and growth, among other topics. In addition to his extremely appealing voice and well-written, heartfelt lyrics, the other strong point of the album is undoubtedly the music. From delicate strings to uplifting percussions and compelling bass and piano, all the instruments appeal to my ears in various ways and each song creates a different atmosphere, allowing me to experience a wide range of feelings. Parler de tout ça, specifically, is an emotional tale about the struggles you can encounter in a relationship and, while I didn’t experience anything similar myself, I can’t help but be touched by the quality of Érik’s words and delivery. Another favourite, the closing track, Viré tombé, is an hypnotic number that deeply touches me and entices me to vibrate to the rhythm of the percussions. Quite a wonderful way to end this listening experience and leave listeners enthralled!
As a conclusion to this short presentation, I would like to say that Chayé Kow is one of those albums that seduce me as soon as the first notes of the first song are heard and it will most definitely be listened to on a regular basis. In case you didn’t listen to it when it was released, as was the case for me, don’t fret: music like this is a gift that you receive whenever you are ready. I know I was and it came into my life at the perfect time.
PS. His new album, École créole, was released last year. I have yet to listen to it but I will most probably keep you updated once I do.
Now that you know a little bit more about Érik and Chayé Kow, I invite you to discover the whole album on iTunes (or other various digital music stores). If by any chance you still need convincing, watch the two videos below, for Si ou pa la and Chayé kow, very different but equally beautiful tracks that give you an idea of the variety of sounds and atmospheres you can find on the album. Enjoy and please share!
Ladies and gentlemen, The Wonderful World of Carminelitta is back (again)! I know, I know… I guess there’s no denying the obvious: life has been hectic and my mind elsewhere in the past months, and despite a vague desire to update the blog more regularly and start sharing some music with you again, I was simply not in a space where I felt motivated and inspired enough to do it. After a few attempts which proved to be short-lived, I’m giving it a new try. Many posts are waiting in line, but for tonight, I thought some smooth French soul would be appropriate.
I told you about Aldrick on two occasions, first for his collaboration with French spoken word artist JLS on the album DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT, and second with his acapella EP Dans Ma Chambre. As I already explained then, Aldrick is part of the numerous artists I discovered on MySpace in what seems to be another digital lifetime and I’ve always appreciated his voice, his style and sense of humour. After giving us those very appetising teasers, the French singer finally delivered a long-awaited debut album back in May. While I tend to listen mainly to American artists, as well as a few from the UK, I have to admit I have overlooked artists from my own country for the most part of the last years. When I discover albums like Histoire de…, I am reminded of how much talent France has nurtured and I am therefore tempted to go back to listening to more “homegrown” music. Aldrick is clearly among my favourites and the album is yet another confirmation of his skills. More
Whenever I’m feeling down, I know it won’t last long and the remedy is usually a wonderful piece of music or encouraging words from a loved one. As I was experiencing “one of those days” on Monday, I was immediately uplifted and given my smile back with Cilla K’s sophomore album, the beautiful and positive New World Lullabies. I will never cease to be amazed by the power of music, something I mentioned countless times before and that I am truly grateful for. I am also very fortunate to be surrounded by many incredibly talented artists with beautiful souls, who share their art with me and give me hope whenever I doubt or feel discouraged. I’ve heard/read many people say that music saved their life and that they didn’t know where they would be without it and I can definitely relate to that feeling. Enough with my personal life though and let’s go back to the topic of this post, which is Cilla K’s new offering.
After discovering the French West Indies native almost two years ago with her debut album Fine Line (read my review featured on Preach Jacobs’ “Mo Betta’ Soul”), I became enchanted by her music and I have to say I was excited to know she was working on a new album. While Fine Line was self-produced and focused mainly on love and her own life experiences, Cilla K teamed up with other producers for New World Lullabies, including several Beat Inn members, and introduced more global topics, as the album was “inspired by the feeling of a transition to new society structures“. More
I recently discovered French beatmaker Evil Needle and was really enchanted by his latest album entitled Cirrostratus. As I’m always curious to know more about artists and their creative process, I decided to ask him a few questions, which he kindly took the time to answer. In case you are not familiar with him or if you also want to get to know him even better, here is Evil Needle, in his own words…
First of all, could you introduce yourself? When did you start making music and why Evil Needle?
Hi, my name is Evil Needle and I’m a Beat-o-holic *hi Evil Needle*
I’m from Alsace and I’m 26 years-old.
Most people have great stories to tell regarding the origin of their artist name, but mine is very banal. I heard this phrase on one of my vinyls, liked it and decided to adopt it.
I started as a DJ in 2000. I was not that good to be honest and I must have been a pain for my mates with my crap “mixtapes”. Following this unsuccessful experience, I thought maybe beatmaking could be cool. So, as every self-respecting aspiring beatmaker, I got my cracked Fruity Loops copy and started experimenting. (I quickly switched to Reason, which I still use today).
You already released several projects, including Soul Dimension and Big Brother EPs and the latest Cirrostratus LP. Could you tell us a bit about them? What was the inspiration behind those different albums?
First of all, I need to state two obvious things before starting. Number one: I am clearly not talking about a British boy’s band here and it is just a simple coincidence that a great French spoken word artist may share his name with them. If you are a fan of theirs, well… you can still check this out and hopefully you will take an opportunity here to open your mind and ears (I tried not to be too judgemental, forgive me if some opinions inadvertly creeped in…). Number two: I apologise to you non French-speaking people (I am well aware you are an overwhelming majority) because you will definitely miss out on a lot if you don’t understand the lyrics. But as I stated several times before, music is universal and you should be able to feel what JLS put into this album even if you don’t get the exact meaning of his lyrics. With that said, DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT has been highly anticipated on my side and I have to say it did live to my expectations, even if I would have loved a longer album. Let me tell you more about JLS and his debut…
I first heard of JLS many years ago on MySpace and was immediately enchanted by his universe. I was discovering French spoken word at the time and I really loved the way he played with words and ideas, how he was very open with his thoughts and emotions, allowing listeners into his very interesting universe. I was going to his page regularly to listen to his music and some of the tracks I loved so much I played them on repeat. Fast forward to more recent times, when Facebook allowed me to re-discover him and get in touch. A few months ago, JLS finally released his debut full-length, entitled DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT. This contains a very nice wordplay and basically introduces one of the concepts of the album, which offers a very interesting balance between words (‘mots’) and notes. I greatly appreciate this aspect of the project and I think it makes it easier for non French-speaking people to get into it and feel its vibe. As he states in the beautiful introduction, JLS’ music is a mixture of different genres and doesn’t fit in any traditional box. It is indeed filled with many influences, from jazz, soul and reggae to hip-hop and spoken word. It’s simply feel-good, conscious, emotional music. I want to quote what may be his slogan, ‘La musique se vit mais ne se joue pas’, which means ‘Music is lived, not played’.
Straight from the first notes of the introduction, you are travelling to another world, you can imagine yourself sitting in an underground jazz club in the States many decades ago and indulge in the sheer beauty of the piano and horns. More jazzy and cinematic elements can be found in Ce soir, a wonderful duet with Aldrick, a very talented singer (whom I also discovered on MySpace back in the days). There is also a melancholic and introspective aspect in this track, where JLS reminisces over his childhood and his past. We then travel further into his universe, through words and music, with reggae-influenced God Bless (featuring Droïd D. Boop). This one really exudes positive energy and is a call for more communication and understanding between people. JLS is realistic but still hopeful, wishing for a better world. It is then time for more hip-hop with a duet with Hadi Barzon. On Ma poésie sur écoute, the artists are showcasing amazing writing-skills and wordplay ability. They are dealing with freedom of speech and how it can be threatened in today’s society. The beautiful piano and flute give the lyrics more depth and are emotionally strong. JLS is also drawing a sad but real image of a world where media manipulation is in full effect and where words are losing some of their power through a decreasing of interest in art and culture. To make their beauty more obvious, JLS shares a wonderful spoken word piece entitled Je veux être. Here, he mixes emotion and technicality, proving that such a blend is indeed possible and his flow makes his lyrics even more powerful. He states ‘Je veux être une fenêtre ouverte sur le monde’ (‘I want to be a open window on the world’). Plume du ghetto has a very nice and energetic jazzy vibe and is a recounting of his path from the ghetto to the world of writing, how he used his ‘feather’ to get out of the ghetto but definitely not to turn a page on it. He is underlining once again how effective words can be over a wonderful piano and horns. The interlude is simply incredible. It is then time for a complete change of mood with the ironic and funny Jimmy le millionnaire which describes how some young people want to be reality TV ‘heroes’ and would do anything for a bit of fame. Finally, it’s all about the music with Des notes which uses the same beautiful soundtrack as the intro and leaves you with a smile on your face.
After words and music, it’s now time to add some visuals… Here is the official video for Ce soir, first single off DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT. Enjoy!
Find out more about JLS Musique and his musicians on his website and head to the shop to purchase the album
I introduced Stevy Mahy and her music to you several months ago, with a very interesting interview, which you can read here. She was talking about her upcoming album at the time, and it’s now out! The Beautiful Side Of A Kreyol Folk Trip is available on and it has been on heavy rotation here since I got it. It is definitely one of the most beautiful albums of 2010 for me. Here is why…
When I discovered Stevy Mahy a few years ago, I immediately felt a connection with her, I could relate to her music and the feelings she was expressing. She seemed to spread messages I was meant to hear, lyrics that would heal me and soothe me. What I now feel with this album is exactly the same way I did when I first heard Stevy’s voice: it’s like I’ve listened to it before, it sounds so familiar I was surprised at first. I had heard some of the songs before, but the main impression I had was that the album had been there already, waiting for me to get re-acquainted with it. It may sound foolish but there is something about it that draws me in, a strange attraction I am completely unwilling to fight. Strangely enough the first song of the album, one of my favourites, describes this feeling perfectly. Something about you is dedicated to the man she met and who made her feel feel ‘brand-new’, while giving her this feeling they had met before, maybe in another life. I am sure many of you have experienced this kind of situation and can relate to it in the same way I can.
This ‘Kreyol Folk Trip’ definitely has a beautiful side, even if the word seems a bit too weak to describe it sometimes. From the very smooth and soothing melodies to Stevy’s angelic voice, everything makes you feel welcome and enticed to join the lady on her journey through love. The main theme of the album is indeed this great feeling, whether it is for a man, humanity, or God. Mixing English, Creole and French, Stevy describes how love for a man can make you go through different stages, from pure bliss (Something about you, Divine magic joy, Beautiful) to heartbreak and pain (Falling in love again, What’s going on? and Mon coeur mon ange). She also inspires her fellow Earth dwellers to keep their heads up and smile, not to forget that their own happiness is within reach (‘Dry your eyes, you’re way too blessed to cry’, Yenki pou vou) and she urges them to be themselves, to avoid being disctracted by superficial and ephemeral bright lights (‘When the show stops, make sure you’re still real’, Fame is gone). Finally, she expresses her gratitude for the Most High (‘I don’t know life without you, cos you print your name in my soul’), declaring ‘I don’t wanna be by myself without your love’ in the beautiful Shine on me.
Besides the great lyrics and inspiring messages, what really makes me feel so comfortable and touches me deeply is the wonderful productions and vocals. Most of the songs are a beautiful blend of different instruments, with an acoustic feeling which is, as you may know by now something I admire. The common feature on most of the songs is the guitar, but there is a variety of other instruments, from the piano to the violin, steel pan and drums that create a very emotional dimension and touches your soul. Stevy’s voice definitely has the same effect and makes me wonder about the awesomeness of being able to move someone through this instrument. I found myself with a wide grin on my face and goose-bumps while listening to the delicate, angelic sonorities. The combination of all these elements make The Beautiful Side Of A Kreyol Folk Trip an album I will listen to on a regular basis, probably at least once a day as I have been doing since I got it. Something I also need to mention is how grateful I am for Stevy to introduce me to AB‘s amazing voice, with Falling in love again. The singer is the only guest of the album and his style, a mixture of D’angelo and Bilal’s with his own, personal twist once again sounds familiar. AB has already been added to my list of artists whose music I need to discover and get even more familiar with.
If you are in need of musical healing, beauty and inspiration, I would highly recommend you discover The Beautiful Side Of AKreyol Folk Trip, I can guarantee you won’t regret it. It is one of those treats you give to your ears, your heart and your soul. It is an album you need in your life, quite simply!
Here is a little update, with a beautiful gift from Stevy… This is the brand-new video for Something about you, definitely one of my favourites on the album. The video makes it even better and really makes me want to travel to amazing Guadeloupe, as well as find someone to say those words to… Enjoy!
Once again, I am truly blessed and grateful to be surrounded by so many talented and inspiring artists and human beings. I have to say a huge thank you to French London-resident, talented photographer Bruno Nguyen for putting me on Jaleenah’s music and making this interview possible. I was delighted to meet the beautiful lady in London a few days ago, have a four-hour chat with her, which was concluded by this amazing interview. Thank you Jaleenah Birdland, of course, for being you, for making such beautiful music and for taking time to sit with me and share a part of your world!
First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself? How/when did you start singing? And why this pseudonym?
I am Jaleenah Birdland and I have to start off by explaining why this artist name. ‘Jaleenah’ is the name my little sister gave me when she was 3, because she definitely wasn’t able to say Gina. I don’t know why she decided, one day, to call me Jaleenah. But when I chose my artist name, I thought this was good because my family could recognise me. ‘Birdland’ is because my father is a jazz bass player and when I was younger, he used to play some Weather Report. Birdland is one of my favourite tracks from them. My name is therefore a mixture of ‘hip-hop’ with Jaleenah and ‘jazz’ with Birdland, and this is a good way to define who I am.
I am a world citizen. My mum is from French Guyana and my dad is from Martinique in the French West Indies, and when I was younger we traveled a lot. We lived in Essex for a while, before going back to France and then to French Guyana. I’m currently living in France. I call myself a world citizen because thanks to my parents I am open to different cultures and love England, France, West Indies. French Guyana is aways in my heart, wherever I go. I am a mixture of all these countries and their influences.
Your music is an eclectic mix of soul, jazz, nu-soul, Caribbean music and gospel, and you had the opportunity to grow up in a varied musical environment. Is it important for you to focus on Music and do what you like, regardless of genres?
I discovered this lovely lady recently on Facebook and she represents a breath of fresh air in my musical world. What comes to my mind when I listen to her music or read her words is positivity, and that is a trend I find in several other young artists these days, which gives me reasons to be optimistic!
Born in Paris with a French West Indian background, Meemee infuses her music with several different influences, including hip-hop, jazz, soul and Carribean music. The result is great and her album Âme Nouvelle (which means New Soul) is a fantastic collection triggering off a desire to travel and escape reality for a while. This an aspect of music I often mention but this is really important for me, as music is one of the rare things that allows me to disconnect from the world in this way.
The themes she approaches are revolving around love, relationships and most importantly self-discovery and empowerment. Even when she deals with ‘negative’ situations, there is a light of hope and the idea that you can always grow and learn from your experiences. It is a really smooth and inspiring album which will be in heavy rotation for quite a long time!
As usual it’s better if you understand French and Creole, but you can still enjoy the beauty of the music and feel the positive vibrations. A proof that her music is universal is the wonderful reactions she provoked in the States, with rapper John Robinson and the famous blog Bama Love Soul praising her album and highly recommending it (it’s in Bama Love Soul’s ‘Top 5 New Releases You Should Own’).
Now, in order to convince you of the beauty of Meemee’s music, here is the official video for her first single off Ame Nouvelle, entitled L’essentiel (quite transparent word, isn’t it…). This song is a very inspiring call to come back to the basics, to get rid of unnecessary things and focus on what’s truly important for one’s growth and happiness. The video itself is also beautifully realised and if you didn’t get why it made me want to travel, here’s a hint. Enjoy!
I know you are already convinced by now, so just for the pleasure, here is the wonderful Gadé mwen an zyé (‘look in my eyes’ in Creole).
You can also listen to and download the song Soulagée (‘relieved’)
I discovered this wonderful lady quite a while ago on MySpace, at a time when artists could actually promote quality music there. She is from Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies and is a proud representative of her native island. What I really appreciate about her music is that it is very smooth, deep and spiritual. Every time I listen to it, I am transported to another world, where I can relax and appreciate the beauty of the landscape. Stevy also exudes a great dose of positive vibrations and generosity. She is a very talented and inspiring artist I am happy to present to you now.
First of all, for people who are not familiar with you and your music, how would you introduce yourself ?
Introduce myself… I always found that kind of hard to do… I’m still trying to figure out who I truly am. But let’s say the more obvious. I’m a black woman from Caribbean descent, grew up both in Paris and Guadeloupe. I’m in my early 30’s and I finally decided to give my singing passion a try… So let’s say I’m a singer…
I don’t want to put you in any box and I can’t really find words to describe your music without using clichés, but you clearly have a specific sound, deeply linked to your roots and your native island. How important is your ‘legacy’ musically, and is it a big source of inspiration for you?
Being from Guadeloupe is defining who I am, I mean being Creole is actually acknowledging the fact that I’m from here and there in the same time. And it’s what you find in my music. I decided to call my music Kreyol Folk because it’s the closest definition that I could imagine of how I feel my own thing. I’m not even trying to add some Caribbean “flavour” in my sound I just do what comes naturally. And naturally my music is Creole because mixed… because me…
You seem to travel a lot, and live between Guadeloupe, metropolitan France and NYC (among others?). Do you think travel is necessary when you are an artist, to feed your inspiration? What are you favourite destinations?
Travel is not necessary but travel can be a plus. True inspiration can have so many ways to be nourished, but I know for a fact that travelling played an interesting part in my perception of who I am and what my music is… Favourite destination… I don’t know, it really depends on my mood, right now I long for a warm sunset in Ivory Coast… Dreaming of my past lives …
During your trips or stays in the States, you met great artists (Dwele and Daru for instance) and got to work with them. To me it sounds like a wonderful dream! How did that happen and how did you feel about it?
I actually met Dwele in Paris, we never worked together, although I’ve interviewed and filmed him and I’ve met Daru through MySpace I really met him in NYC. I take all my encounters as pure blessings, they are good in what they do, very creative, so it’s a way for me to learn more musically and humanly…
Are there any artists you’d like to meet/work with?
Yes, yes, yes!!! I always wanted to work with Wyclef Jean and there are so many… But I’ll say Iron and Wine and Meshell Ndegeocello.
You are a multi-talented and multi-tasking artist, writing, singing, making films/videos, etc. Is it important for you to always have something to work on? Do you feel the need to express yourself in many different ways?
I’m getting less and less attached to the illusion of “doing” things to feel “alive”. I used to think that doing nothing was a waste of time, now I appreciate every free moment to spend it with myself… I am trying to not put boundaries on my way to express myself. I’m just trying to listen to the urge of all the things I have inside trying to get out. Art is a great therapy, I use it kindly…
Your music is really smooth and soothing but also very deep, there is clearly a spiritual dimension to it. And when I listen to it I feel connected to your art and to you in a way. Do you pay attention to this specific aspect when you are creating, or is it something that you express naturally?
For me creation cannot be separated from inspiration, so instead of creation I’d almost say giving or transmission. I’m aware of the spiritual part of me, of life and in my music I give it back sometimes consciously sometimes just instinctively.
You sing in French, Creole and English. Are there some things easier to say in one language than in others? Do you choose consciously or is the choice made naturally?
Creole comes naturally when singing about love, sweet, sweet love. Most of the time my melodies are coming with the language, but sometimes I do make some conscious choices. But anyway true emotion speaks for itself whatever the language…
Nowadays the music industry is changing drastically, and sometimes listeners are faced with ‘fast-food’ music, with no real substance. Most of the mainstream music is made without much interest for creativity. Do you think this is only temporary and that ‘real’ music will eventually be back and reach more people?
“Real” music is back because people are getting back to what is “real”, but anyway it’s a cycle, needs are changing so are the offers. I don’t know are long is gonna last but I’m pretty optimistic…
As an independent artist, you may have to struggle sometimes, to have your music heard and touch a large number of listeners. Some artists choose to compromise, as soon as their music starts to be noticed. You are being heard by more and more people, and your songs are played on ‘mainstream’ media. How difficult is it to stick to your style and creative ‘uniqueness’ while becoming more famous?
Well, it’s probably easy for me because I’m not doing music under pressure, I’m forming a great team with Joel Jaccoulet. We’re doing music for the love of it even if we’re aware of the commercial side and all that comes along, for now we’re just doing what we like…
Finally, are you currently working on new projects? And are you planning to be on stage soon, to bless the audience with your wonderful presence and energy?
Hahaha, just hoping it is really gonna be a blessing for them, lol!!! But I’m actually still in the process of recording the rest of my album, it should be out in a couple of months, that’s my main focus right now… Performances coming soon ; )
Now that you know a bit more about her, let’s introduce her music, with this wonderful song I just can’t get enough of! The title sums it up… Here is the official video for Beautiful
He is an amazingly gifted poet I discovered on Les Nubians’ first album, Princesses Nubiennes, with his wonderful interludes. Proud representative of his ancestors, he is a modern griot and living testimony of the beauty of the oral art.
His lyrical ability is simply stunning and even though his art is highly technical, you can’t but be touched by his words, you are bound to be engrossed by their beauty. He takes you to a wonderful land where all your senses are alert, where you think with your heart and open your eyes and mind to the beautiful metaphorical landscapes he depicts.
I used not to be interested by poetry, thinking it was just a way for slightly crazy people to play with words, a useless art which didn’t make any sense. How wrong I was! With his album L’hiver Peul, Souleymane Diamanka proves that you can be touched by words, by the ability they give you to escape reality and relate to the feelings expressed by the artist.
He writes about life, love, poetry, society, always turning a concrete and sometimes serious subject into a beautiful masterpiece.
My favourites on the album are Muse Amoureuse (a wonderful ode to love I just can’t get enough of), Le marchand de cendres, Papillon en papier and Je te salue vieux Sahara.
Of course, if you don’t understand French you are missing out a lot but I am sure after you listen to the album you’ll take lessons straight away! And as I said before, music is a universal language so you can still be moved by the melodies and the beautiful, deep voice of Mr Diamanka.
Here is one of my favourite songs off L’hiver Peul, Marchand de cendres. It is a beautifully-written ode to the woman who made the character addicted to smoking. Full of wonderful metaphors and clever rhymes, it always makes me feel great and blessed to be able to share the artist’s universe and vivid imagination. Enjoy!
And here is Muse amoureuse, one of the most perfect poems I have ever heard. It touches me deep inside every time I listen to it and always brings me to tears. The mixture of feelings it depicts and the wonderful lyrical ability of Souleymane Diamanka result in a deeply sensual and emotional song I never tire of listening. If you need only one reason to learn French, here it is!