Essaouira: From music to art, a city of multiple cultural influences

Conversation with Hindi Zahra, Daox, Othmane Bengebara & Martin Seigneur

Thursday 30 September 2021, 5pm (Morocco)

Language: French

In partnership with Afikra

As part of its exhibition Outsiders/Insiders? Artists of Essaouira from the Fondation Alliances and Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober Collections, MACAAL organised an online discussion that brought together the architect and exhibition designer, Othmane Bengebara, the singer and author Hindi Zahra, the co-founder of the Moga festival DJ Daox, and the singer-songwriter Martin Seigneur. Entitled Essaouira: From Music to Art, City of Multiple Cultural Influences, the discussion dealed with the city of Essaouira as a creative ground that fascinated so many Moroccan and international artists.

Considered as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Souiri painters and sculptors, Essaouira is also known for its history, its music and its international festivals. The talk aimed to understand how this small harbour town from the Atlantic coast has managed to genrerate as much talents and cultural diversity even if it was not initially intended to.

Moderated by Meriem Berrada, Artistic Director at MACAAL.

About Hindi Zahra

Hindi Zahra is a pluridisciplinary artist, a French-Moroccan singer, but also a painter, author, actress and songwriter. For her, music is above all a family story, the story of a Berber born in Morocco. Her father was a soldier and her mother a housewife, an actress and singer known in the village. Then her musician uncles introduced her to traditional Gnaoua music, reggae and Bob Dylan’s folk music. She grew up listening to raï and châabi divas, like Rimitti, and Egyptian divas, like Oum Khalsoum, between traditional Berber music and rock’n’roll from the countryside, but also not far from the Malian blues of the great Ali Farka Touré and the sensual folk of Ismaël Lo.
With her bewitching voice and lyrics that resonate like an incantation, the enchanting Hindi Zahra has an inimitable musical cachet.

About Daox

Born in Casablanca, Abdeslam Alaoui, better known as Daox, began a career in music at an early age after being seduced by hip-hop classics and electronic music legends such as Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin, Model 500 and Ken Ishii among others. Since then, Daox has become one of the most promising dj/producers in the thriving North African underground scene with airy sets influenced by deep techno sounds. In 2016, Daox embarked on a new adventure by creating the Moga Festival in Essaouira, an electronic festival between Gnaoua heritage and modern touch.

About Othmane Bengebara

Othmane Bengebara is an architect and conceptual artist. He trained at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. His work focuses on the square, a referential and repetitive element, as a basic unit for building space. Othmane Bengebara is also the scenographer of the exhibition Outsiders/Insiders? currently displayed at MACAAL. Conceived as a spatial, sonic, chromatic and, above all, mystical experience, the scenography is intended as a genuine invitation to trance.

About Martin Seigneur

Martin Seigneur is a French singer-songwriter. Although immersed in the folk culture of the 1960s and 70s with artists such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, he remains attached to his native language and fashions a “French pop/rock” that is directly in line with Alain Bashung and Noir Désir. In 2016, he immersed himself in the world of Gnaoua music in Essaouira, where he met Reda Zniber and Khalil Mounji of Gnaoua Culture, with whom he began their project: the Lila album.

About Afikra

Afikra is a grassroots movement that has evolved into a global media and educational platform focused on the history, knowledge and understanding of the Arab world culture. Afikra’s particularity is to cultivate curiosity in the Arabic-speaking community, encouraging members to develop critical thinking skills and proactively challenge dominant narratives about the region’s history and culture.