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Music from Saharan WhatsApp, a Sahel Sounds compilation

A look back at Sahel Sounds limited WhatsApp EP series that will soon be released on vinyl in a greatest hits compilation.

“WhatsApp has become the main way to communicate in Sahel”, explained Christopher Kirkley in an interview given at the time of the launch of this surprising new series. “Cellular phones are everywhere but they operate on a credit basis costing an exorbitant amount of money per-minute. However, on the Internet, it is possible to circumvent those charges. Whatsapp offers a way to transfer files in order for media and music to go from one phone to another. We used to do it via Bluetooth“. Having noticed this technological and cultural turning point, Sahel Sounds label’s boss suggested that artists from the region should send them their sounds directly through the app. This new EP-like format was then uploaded in its raw state to Bandcamp. It became available for download with a pay what you want option for a limited period up to one month. The full proceeds went to the musicians involved.

Keeping with the spirit of the Music from Shaharan Cellphones series, for many artists coming from different backgrounds, phones have become a tool of production and a means to exchange sounds, whether it be for Mandinka music, synthetic techno, Tuareg rock or wedding music. The label has curated 11 of its favorite tracks amongst spontaneous recordings from Etran de l’Aïr, Hama, Bounaly, Luka Production or Amaria Hamadalher, member of the Les Filles de Illighadad who has been chosen for the first single of the compilation “Tarhanine” that you can listen to below. If you missed this series during the lockdown, now is the time to enjoy a catch-up session which will soon be pressed on vinyl for the very first time!

Music from Saharan WhatsApp is out June 10th via Sahel Sounds.

Amaria Hamadalher – Tarhanine