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should have been. Tere's a story behind that which I can't really go into... let's leave it at that! Obviously it's a great award with an excellent tradition. Your dresses and outfits are always so beautifully colourful and dramatic. Is that traditional Nigerian dress? Te materials are traditional fabrics, yes; however the designs are more contemporary and we were very lucky to have a talented designer friend, Nelson Santos who helped out with those. What other African groups from the UK can you recommend we listen to? Oh yes, there are loads of people doing interesting stuff here with African music on many different levels. For example, you have bands with African members like Young Fathers (Mercury award winners) who bring a flavour of that to their music. Ten there are people like Afrikan Boy, who is guesting with us on a couple of our UK dates, that are more overtly African in their sound. And you have other people blending electronics with African sounds such as our friends Electric Jalaba and Owiny Sigoma - there really feels like a new wave of interest in music of the African diaspora building up, which goes beyond the curiosity and discovery of 'world music' that came before. It's like people seem to be much more musically interacting with these sounds now, as opposed to admiring them from afar! In terms of the electronic side of your


music, how do you feel you fit in with the scene in the UK at present? Te UK has always been at the forefront of electronic music obviously, and as a band we have a lot of respect for those sounds. I wouldn't say we're an electronic band as such but as a group we're very interested in how electronics can interact with more traditional instruments. We feel we have a lot further to take that particular concept and are working with that in mind... With the chaotic state of the industry at the moment it's quite an exciting time to be experimenting with different sounds and there are so many people doing just that. Te electronic scene is a very big part of pushing into new and different musical territory. What’s the reaction been to the songs you sing in English versus the ones you sing in Ibibio? I think people like the little bits of English we throw in as something familiar in our sound; however Ibibio as a language has


“We're very interested in how


can interact with more traditional instruments”


electronics


a very rhythmic character to it which makes it very well suited to music, and I think people have really connected with that in a way that is surprising and very nice! Can you tell me a little more about the folk stories that inspire your songwriting and lyrics? Tey are all stories, which I recall from growing up as a child. Elder family members would often recount tales, often involving animals and always with an educational or moral message behind them as a way of teaching us children what was what! When the idea of singing in Ibibio came up, my mind immediately thought back to those times and the stories, which obviously had a great resonance in my life. Are your mum and grandma proud of you for singing about your cultural background in their language? Well, my grandma is not with us anymore, but she would definitely be very proud and my mum certainly is too, yes! What do you think of the genre of ‘world music’? Is it still a relevant term in 2014? I think 'world music' harks back to an idea of fascination with the unknown and mysterious music of 'other' cultures. It was only fairly recently that labels like Peter Gabriel's Real World felt like something of a new and exciting thing. It just shows you how fast the world is changing and becoming closer; it already feels like we've moved into a new phase of connection between people that may render the term 'world music' a little passé. I think that art mirrors what is going on around us, so whereas 20 or 30 years ago there seemed such a difference between the music of one country and another, now the Internet has made everything so accessible to everyone, even in less affluent societies, and that certainly includes music. Young artists do not seem to feel restricted by geographical boundaries and in London and beyond many are experimenting with sounds they hear from places that once seemed so far away. Perhaps the zeitgeist is shifting, so that what was once 'world music' will become much more a part of everyone's consciousness.


Lizz Page MORE INFORMATION


Ibibio Sound Machine play the Norwich Arts Centre on


13th February. Tickets from www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk


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