Q1: On your last album ‘The secret’ you covered a wider range of music by collaborating with jazz musicians of the calibre of John Scofield and Dave Matthews. How and why did this come about?
A1: Well, I wanted to undertake a project with several American guitarists for whom I have a great deal of respect. It was straightforward. For me it was natural to invite American stars because, just as ‘The secret’ is an exploration of the depths of traditional music in Mali, it is also pushing the music forward in an increasingly connected world. When we recorded the rough tapes in Bamako [Malian capital], we then came to New York with a few ideas of what we wanted to do on such and such a song. Thanks to God and the stars themselves of course, we achieved what we set out to do.
Q2: What important musical lessons have you learnt from your father [the late Ali Farka Toure]?
A2: Above all being patient, clear minded and honest in all situations and with everyone, whoever that may be. He taught me a great deal on the guitar and I learnt for the most part by playing, by studying the music myself. However, it was the lessons about humanity that were the most important.
Q3: In your opinion in what ways does your style differ from that of your father?
A3: Well you can say that we are both products of our respective generations. As far as I am concerned, I play more in a rock style and am a little more open to other styles such as reggae, funk and even hip-hop. But both of us have the same musical roots.
Q4: Tell us a little about how the collaboration with kora instrumentalist Toumani Diabaté came about.
A4: You could say that Toumani Diabaté is my second father. From an early age he has been there to show me many things, both musical and non-musical. He is a member of our family. In fact we can even talk about it being the same family. He is someone who I will always respect. He is the master, not just of the kora, but of Malian music more generally.
Q5: The number of people you have in the group on ‘The secret ‘ is larger than the previous album. Why did you choose a less intimate sound this time round?
A5: I don’t know. If something inspires me, I run with that idea. I don’t think too much about what I have done on previous albums, or anything like that. For this project [‘The secret’ album] there were several sounds that I had in my head first of all. So I wanted to capture these ideas in the studio.
Q6: What have been the guiding musical forces of your youth?
A6: My father of course. Toumani and my uncle Afel Bocoum [international debut album on World Circuit]. Plus some of the greats of Malian music such as Oumou Sangare, Khaira Arby, Salif Keita etc. However, I also listen to the great American bluesmen: B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters. All those whose music I could lay my hands on.
Q7: Which five albums would you listen to on a desert island?
A7: That’s a difficult one. I think I would choose:
1) ‘The source’ – Ali Farka Toure (World Circuit)
2) ‘In the heart of the moon’ – Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabaté (World Circuit)
3) ‘Are you experienced’ – Jimi Hendrix
4) ‘Alatoum’ – Mamar Kassey
5) ‘The black album’ Jay Z
Q8: What new musical projects have you got up your sleeves forthcoming?
A8: I want to record an album with musician friends from Niger. That is what I am intending to do, perhaps for the next album. But in any case I am always open to new ideas.