On the creation of the album, it was only conceived, composed and recorded in 11 days. We had never worked together, some had never done music professionally. Before heading to that desert oasis, we knew it was gonna be very tough. I didn’t even know how it was gonna be possible to pull it off in such short time and with limited resources. But we all wanted it so badly. We believed and we did it,
Oualid Khelifi shares.
Process is everything – that’s evident in the making of this passionately driven EP, Look South, by El Foukr R’Assembly, an Algerian music collective managed by Khelifi.
Look South is the first venture of El Foukr R’Assembly – a diverse set of music artists, filmmakers and writers – who banded together in 2014 to make music exploring themselves as contemporary representations of African music and identity.
El Foukr R’Assembly was formed in 2015, as a collaborative project between emerging Algerian artists who met in the saharan region connecting Algeria and Niger. The collective was founded on a vision of “looking south” musically, specifically to West Africa, where bridges could connect between sounds in Niger, Ghana and Burkina and build spaces of happy shelter. The EP, Look South, was released as part of a crowdfunding initiative to visit West Africa and meet musicians to record a second EP in Ghana.
As a North African, don’t question my Africanity by my colour. If you wanna joke about it, I am more African than those called African Americans in Brooklyn.
Lead vocalist Amine Lehchili on claiming one’s identity
The crowdfunding campaign went even better than planned and provided the Algerian artists the opportunity to come to Ghana. They formed a band of seven African multinational artists in a makeshift studio in Accra and recorded another EP (to be released in March 2017). The band even took their gritty, compelling sounds on tour throughout the country.
The resulting groove [of Look South] is a trance journey between roots immersion and contemporary African genres: an AfroJazzy Sufi Diwane, an upbeat Algerian Rai, a bluesy North African Gnawa, a soulful Sahel-Saharan Madingue, a sweet Ghanaian High Life & an urban West African Afro-Salsa.
This past summer, the band landed an art residency in the u.s. where they have been working on a evolving sound reflective of different shades of expression across the continent. Something one can only remember as El Foukr R’Assembly.