Tag Archives: ethnography

Mdou Moctar USA Tour 2017


After many years, we’re proud to announce the Mdou Moctar USA tour! Mdou & the band will be starting off on the EU/UK, then headed across the USA, with shows on the West Coast, Midwest, East Coast, down to the South.

I first heard Mdou’s music in 2010, and finally met him in person two years later. During the first meeting we recorded his debut album Afelan. At the time, Sahel Sounds was a nascent label taking its first stumbling steps in a tumultuous and confusing music industry, so when Mdou asked “How can I tour in America?” I responded disparagingly: “We can work together, I can help your music to travel, but I have no idea how to make a tour happen, above all in the USA.”

At select screenings, we’ll be screening our film, the Purple Rain inspired Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai. But we also are talking about making a sequel of sorts, an ethnographic film from Mdou & the band as they cross America and explore what it means to tour in 2017. Maybe with a little bit of Spinal Tap thrown in. It is rock music, after all.

series of tubes

Found while researching Chadian music – a film that looks like a U.S. corporate work training video, complete with Budda Bar-esque soundtrack. The video is clearly a propaganda short for an alliance of Chadian anti-government rebels. What was particular about this video was the dance sequence that appears halfway through (at 2:54). What is this video? Where was it intended to be broadcast?

Writing about Africa a world away, the most appropriate research tool is the internet. It’s dynamic, but not necessarily useful, particularly with regards to portions of the world without the abundance of access necessary to forge a virtual identity, an internet facsimile of a culture. The authoritative (wiki) sites are authoritative for lack of competition, a dearth of information about parts of the world, offering the summation of an entire people or cultural creation sourced in a few brief words from a handful of self made experts, often outdated and reflective of another era. The next decades will undoubtedly see an explosion in global access: a Cyber Cafe on every corner. More self/locally produced media will be created, although the language division remains a massive barrier. For the moment, the least hindered by cross cultural accessibility due to language and ease of use is the living archive of video on Youtube.

Chadian cellphone video

While scouring the internet, watching the Youtube videos with bizarre foreign name, perhaps transliterated from some unrecognizable script, it’s encouraging to view them as windows into far off destinations and incomprehensible cultures. Or conversely as some modern ethnographic tool. Both are murky definitions and leave a questionable choice between two extremes.

the mastery of the web art of collection (and perhaps the best summation of this topic) is the very self conscious presentation at coolplacessoundsystem, a tumblr devoted to the collection of images and videos, often African, that share an origin of places both foreign and of limited internet visibility. The site is reflected in this brief trailer for a projection, a collection of Youtube videographic surfing:

*update from Tony from Coolplaces — see the comments*