Levitation Interviews: Imarhan

Things are heating up in the Red River District and beyond this weekend here in Austin with Levitation Festival set to kick off on Thursday night. We’re all staring at the walls at work as we look towards the jam packed festival of musical delights. Of course when we do interviews, we never do just one or two, but like to hit as many bands as possible to give you a truly unique and varied perspective of bands coming into town. Our interview today features Tuareg quintet Imarhan. Hit the jump for interview, set times and music.

Responses were given collectively as a band.

ATH: Levitation is the festival formerly known as Psych Fest. How does your music fit into the psychedelic genre as we know it?

Imarhan: We call our music Assouf which means “nostalgia” in Tamasheq (our language). Assouf is the music genre of our Tamasheq culture. You will hear repetitive and hypnotic melodies and rhythms such as in the psychedelic genre, it’s our own psychedelic.

ATH: Similarly, you’re opening at Levitation for legends Os Mutantes…what’s your plan to get a heavy rock crowd on your side for your set?

Imarhan: We feel we present our own psychedelic, lets call it “assoufedelic music.” It’s us, it comes from far away, from our desert, it’s Imarhan.

ATH: The recording of your new album Aboogi sounds like it may have come with its own set of specific challenges. What was the recording process like? Why did you feel the need to create your own studio under extreme conditions? I’d love to hear more.

Imarhan: We recorded Aboogi live in our studio which is a big round room. We mostly record live. It was important to build the studio and be able to record our music in our environment. It has been a bit of a challenge to build it but the desire was the strongest feeling. We feel at ease recording with our elements. We are looking forward to invite more artists from all over the world to record at Aboogi and feel this very special space.

ATH: Ya’ll have a big North American tour going down right now. How are you deciding where to play, and where is the best potential for the band?

Imarhan: North America is all important, we feel in some specific cities maybe more interest but in general Americans understand and feel our music very easily which we love.

ATH: Since you are currently on tour, any great cities or experiences so far?

Imarhan: Montreal was super crazy, especially because there were many Tuaregs in the audience, who have been missing Tuareg music, they were very excited at the show. NYC was awesome with a sold out show and very happy audience, and pretty well focused in the set which we appreciate.

ATH: Obviously it is rare for us to speak with and chat with Algerian bands, and more specifically, Tuareg bands. Since it is such a sort of “musical unknown” for us stateside (and more specifically in Texas), do you have a solid music scene in your community? Who are some bands we need to be paying attention to? We’d love to plug anyone and everyone.

Imarhan: So many young guys play music in Tamanrasset, it’s part of our culture, like football for Brasilians. They play the guitar, they play the tinde (percussions made from goatskin on a mortar), the oud also..

There are many talented ones… you will find their recordings on youtube most of the time here are some examples:

Hamid Moudessir

Gruob lahsan trhanyn

Fatah Lamrabet

ATH: What is something you look forward to doing on tour in North America (food, drink, etc.)?

Imarhan: We don’t feel issue with food, we always end by finding what we want. The most difficult challenge is the size of the map in the US! Huge country and very tiring to tour the whole country but its also such an amazing experience.

ATH: Lastly, as you drive across the country? What does the band listen to in the van?

Imarhan: We all have different tastes in the band, so each of us listen to his own music with his headphones! Imarhan is made of those multiple influences…

Thanks again for making this time to speak with us! Imarhan play the Empire stage right after the Os Mutantes set. Looks like some tickets are still available.


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