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Music Is Part Of My Life's Approach: Blick Bassy Returns With '1958'

Wednesday, 06 March 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

Blick Bassy channels movement, emotion and stirring vibrations into a sort of universal language through his music. Aspiring to connect with the very heart of his listeners using subtle intonations, harmonious melodies and resonant chords, the instincts behind his music are compelling.

His latest album, '1958', takes its name from the year in which Ruben Um Nyobé, a Cameroonian freedom fighter, was assassinated by French colonial forces. The record was conceptualised in order to encourage us to focus on our communities, reflecting on tradition and environmental values.

Blick Bassy hopes '1958' will allow him to break free from the niche 'world music' category that he feels marginalises his sound. He wants simply to be regarded as an artist from Africa. “I hope that my perspective of music can open some minds, impacting African musicians, showing a new way of approaching African music, which transcends all of music’s borders,” he remarks.

Reaching skyward, yearning for positive change in the way we all connect with each other, his soothing music projects a message of hope and humility. We spoke with him prior to a London date at St. Pancras Old Church on March 11, just a few days after the arrival of '1958'.

You are living in France but were born in Cameroon. What was happening in your life during the conception of ‘1958’ to inspire such nostalgia for your heritage?

I’m living in France but going back home every year. In these last years it has been hard for me to see all the chaos, poverty, pain, the level of deterioration in the area where I grew up. All this made me sad, sad to see my people living without any connection to their tradition, to their roots, to their environment and fighting to be the western countries' avatar. All this made me sad.

Your spirituality is central to the music you make. What impact upon your journey does the release of this album have for you?

Music is part of my life’s approach. Sharing my perspective and my spiritual feelings is my contribution to this capitalist world we are living in. I’m trying to communicate my view of the horrendous situation in Cameroon through music. Whether you are living in the Congo or in Paris, we are linked by the same thing, the capitalism which is damaging the unique and only meaning of our existence.

What have you got planned for the live show?

I think the new arrangement we made for the live shows is impactful. The way I'll use my voice, the emotion and interpretation, pedals and effects we use all definitely bring my live show to another level.

Who would you like to book as a support act to take on tour over the coming months, if you could select any new talent?

Kristel from Madagascar. She is fresh, rock and unique.

Can you take me through the day spent shooting the video for Ngwa?

Oh God, this was tremendous. We started with part of our shooting team stuck at the Lesotho border for more than a day. Finally, they crossed the border and we lost two sunny shooting days. Then when we started, the rain visited us, the cold combined complicated the situation. We decided to shoot regardless of these issues as we were running out of time. 

Shooting in those conditions brought something powerful during the scenes, bringing character depth and realness to myself and for the horse-riders as it was so cold. The landscape was so amazing we eventually forgot how hard the shoot was. I was thinking about how Um Nyobé himself had been forced to run and hide.

Which track on the album do you feel the proudest of?

I like every track differently as the lyrics are talking about different themes which link to Um Nyobé. Sango Ngando is special as it's an old song I wrote 10 years ago and which now fits so well into the album, musically and thematically.

What happened in your first meeting with producer Renaud Letang and how does the creative partnership work between the two of you?

Renaud is a friend of mine and I've followed his work for over a decade. For this album, I chose to go to him as I was looking for a wonderful voice treatment, but also his recording and mixing approach. So sometimes he was suggesting some great ideas about my vocal, cello, keyboard, it was so exciting. I really love how he works.

‘1958’ is out on March 8 through No Format/Tôt ou.

Blick Bassy Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon March 11 2019 - LONDON St Pancras Old Church

Click here to compare & buy Blick Bassy Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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