India Mãe da Lua, a multi-instrumentalist with no formal music training of any kind, is the focus of a new album from Kalibé , a musical collective who have been mentioned in the same breath as Grammy-guzzling, World Music phenomenon, The Buena Vista Social Club. We spoke to the album’s producer, Matteo Crugnola about the difficulties and inspiration the project brought..
“Of course I’m a fan of Ry Cooder and you’re not the first one to find this similarity. More than Buena Vista Social Club I would say his album with Ali Farka Toure, “Talking Timbuktu”, maybe because of the common African roots with the [first] album “La Danse d’Harmattan”.
Ry Cooder is a great guitarist and producer and I’m not even worth the comparison [we beg to differ!]. But of course, he has explored world music with great success, meeting and recording with some of the greatest musicians of different cultures. I also love his Indian album “A meeting by the River” [with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt] , where guitar, sitar and tabla dialogue together as though they belong to the same tradition.
That’s the power of music: the power to unite and transcend cultural barriers. Power to communicate at a deep level with people who don’t even speak your language and to create a sense of community.
That’s surely the spirit also of Kalibé.
But -as I said- I am not Ry Cooder and we also don’t have the same budget! There are so many amazing musicians around (it doesn’t necessary mean also famous), I had the great luck to meet a few and they have been open, generous and happy to become part of the Kalibé family. To be honest, in the last album there are not so many collaborations, since it’s focused on India Mae da Lua. Most tracks is just her and me. The next album will have many more people involved and won’t be focused on just one person; but India Mae da Lua deserved a full album!
I think nowadays we are getting used to living in a multi-cultural society, to share a flat with, for example, an Indian student, a Korean engineer and a Ghanaian refugee and slowly starting to mix our habits: to start adding Indian spices on a French salad, than having some sushi and a Mexican guacamole. Kalibè goes in that direction.
So, I think it’s more of an open attitude that brought me to know other musicians, rather than a process of research and discovery.
I’ve never called a musician I don’t know to propose a recording collaboration or to hire him for a recording session. It’s more genuine friendship and sharing the same message, or the will to do music together. I met India Mae da Lua in Spain more than 10 years ago when we were both street musicians (she was in Spain to represent Brazil in a musical event, then decided to stay there a few months). I described our meeting in the website ( https://www.kalibemusic.com/music). A few months before meeting her, I met Ermanno Panta who’s the co-founder of Kalibé. We are close friends and have done many gigs together – he also participated in all my albums. He spent one year working in Burkina Faso in 2010 and started playing with all the best musicians of the country, then he invited me to go there to play together, to get to know African music an maybe create a band together.
We didn’t even mean to record an album or to write those songs…it’s been the magic of that moment, it just happened! We were staying in an old house and, as people started to know that there were two “white” musicians in that place, local musicians started to appear just to play together! In other cultures, music is a way of communicating and having fun together, something to share easily with great humbleness and laughter. That’s also the spirit of Kalibé, we don’t go to big studios for recordings (we don’t have the budget!) but try to use high-quality microphones and equipment. In Burkina Faso, our “studio” was the same bedroom where we were sleeping. The hardest thing is to get moments of silence.
Once in Italy, I spend a lot of time selecting and editing recorded material in order to make sure the audio quality is the highest possible and the mastering has been done in one of the best studios in Italy by experienced professionals.
So, it’s never -I mean not even once – been difficult to unite, nor I should say, have I ever perceived so much difference between us. There’s much more in what people share than in what makes the difference. And I always try to see differences as a source of richness”