Interview with Awa Fall - Words of Wisdom
01/20/2019 by Munchy
Your second album Words Of Wisdom has just been released on January 7, 2019. How did you celebrate the release? Are you excited?
Yes, I am very excited. It is my second album and finally people can listen to those two years of work. Finally these words of wisdom are coming out. We had the launch party for the album on December 7 here in my city Bergamo for the people who support and encourage me on my musical journey. That was something I wanted to do exclusively for them. About 400 people came and it was a great night. You can still watch videos from it on Facebook. On January 18 we will have a show with a different band, an acoustic quartet. That’s gonna be a different style. We will play the songs from the album.
The first track Ossou Gallé draws us into the record quite magical with percussion, a choir and African lyrics. What language is that and what do you sing?
That is Wolof and it comes from my father’s side. He is Senegalese. This project began in Africa, in Senegal in 2016, when I went there for the first time to meet my grand parents. This journey inspired me in so many ways that I had to tell it in my music. Ossou Gallé is the story of a young Senegalese man who faces daily struggle and sorrow but besides that he knows his family backbone. This story reflects other Senegalese men’s life. That’s why I decided to write this song about the man, ossou gallé.
Did you always speak Wolof? Did your father teach you when you were young?
I wrote this song with my brother when I was in Senegal, and then I rearranged it with Ashraff30, which is a singer from Senegal, who lives in Italy. Ashraff was also in Senegal when I was there and it was very nice to share the experience with him. That was the first time to Senegal for me and also the first time I met my grand parents. I was 18, 19 years old and I used the chance as soon as I got to travel independently.
How was the trip?
I discovered a new world! Inside and outside of me. I found a new me, I found myself literally. Just like I sing in my song In My Name “I need to go there and water my roots”, because I felt like I was dying. It was very important, the key of many changes. It opened many doors.
Your mother is Italian, you were born in Bergamo, and your father is from Senegal, but also lived in Italy. How much did your African roots influence your life and your decision to make Reggae music?
The passion for Reggae music has always been in my family somehow, but surely the Africanness in me is uncontrollable. Reggae music has been a part of my childhood but my roots made me love Reggae. My auntie is a singer. I started to sing with her when I was about 12 years old. That’s how I got to know Reggae music, thanks to my auntie Valentina.
For your second album you worked again with DJ Bonnot, who is a multi-instrumentalist, DJ and producer from Italy. How is working with him? What do you appreciate about his works?
I find myself very lucky to know him. He gives me space to express myself. I don’t have any limits with him. He helps me a lot to turn my emotions into music, he knows how to bring me in the mood, and I love the studio vibe. Walter (DJ Bonnot) is more than a producer, he is like a brother to me. He is very genuine and caring.
DJ Bonnot works a lot with dead prez and General Levy. I guess, that’s how he and M-1 got on board of your album. How did the other featured artists Kumar, Irie-Child and Tommy Kuti join Words Of Wisdom?
I knew Kumar through the internet. Tommy Kuti I met at a concert about a year ago. And Irie-Child came also through Bonnot.
Speaking of the track with M-1 from dead prez. Everyday Is War is a straight Hip Hop track, that reminded me melody wise of Nas If I Ruled The World. It comes with a mellow beat, smooth organ sounds, sparkling chimes and gentle guitar. What inspired the lyrics and how was working with M-1?
We were in the studio together and I played him this song of Nas. Then we started to write. It was a great night. I was very inspired. It is a cry for justice. The daily obstacles that we face everyday, knowing that by the end of the day there is still a light, there is still hope. The song is very simple, you just have to listen to the chorus. It goes like “more justice, more peace, you live in a world ruled by hypocrites”. That’s it! We claim equal rights and justice, so someone has to sing this. M-1 as an activist is a living example to me.
Also Tommy Kuti is a rapper. I love the song you did with him, which is a brisk Pop song entitled Dentro Di Me. That means something like “inside me”, if Google helped me to translate it right. What is the song about and why did you chose Tommy Kuti as a feature artist for this one?
Yes, the translation is right. This song is about self-confidence and self-empowerment, something to make you feel stronger. Sometimes especially we women need to learn how to love ourselves. As you said, the track is brisk, so I wanted Tommy’s energy on the song, something that wouldn’t oversaturate the song. Tommy was the perfect person for it. And he is also a brother with Nigerian roots. He does very interesting works in the Hip Hop scene.
Another favorite of mine is A.W.A. featuring Irie-Child, who is a Haitian-Jamaican singer. You’re singing from the perspective of two people who are getting to know each other, he is hitting on you. The conversation is on an acoustic instrumental driven by guitar. It is one of two amazing acoustic tracks from the album. The other one is In My Name. This one that comes with piano, hand drum, violin and a background choir is an ode to Africa. Did you actually write it in Africa or what motivated you to dedicate this one the motherland?
In My Name is about the mother of the mothers, just like Africa which is the mother of all of us. I connected the three elements of myself, motherhood and Africa for In My Name. So here I am having a confrontation with my mother Africa, also searching and reaching for the male figure to be placed next to my mother Africa, someone or something I would call father Africa. I think that’s probably one of the deepest tracks of the album. I was inspired by the profound need to discover my roots. It is something very deep, that is difficult to describe with words.
I spoke so much about my favorite songs – do you have a favorite song, too?
I love them all because each song describes a different emotion, a different aspect. I cried so many tears when I did this album. Peace Of Mind is about love, Nuff A Dem is about rage… I want to bring awareness on these feelings. This is my way of redemption.
Songs like Believe and Be The Difference are classic Reggae rhythms, while other songs such as Peace Of Mind or Everyday Is War are straight Pop or Hip Hop songs. How would you describe your album musically or how do you want your works to be understood?
The album is a mix of two cultures that are part of my world and my life. It’s a mixture of Africa and what someone might want to call Pop or Mainstream. In order for me to communicate with my people I chose to sing in Wolof, Italian and English to reach everybody. My album is just everything that comes to my mind.
At home do you listen mostly Reggae?
I listen Jazz, Hip Hop, Reggae… good music in general.
What are you planning for 2019 after the release of your album?
We have to go to New York to shoot the video with M-1. That’s the first thing to do and then we will take the next steps. Probably in February we’ll go. For all other updates people can always check my Facebook.