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Laurent Evini "Zaki"

Born in Cameroon, at the Briqueterie, one of the hottest neighborhoods of Yaoundé, Zaki, is the essence of the talent that blooms through the mysteries of life. Laurent Evini, aka Zaki, has scoured all the strongholds of music in Yaoundé with his slender figure, his ineffable smile of joviality, and his bass guitar, this faithful wife who has made him a seasoned musician. Less known than his compatriots Vicky Edimo, or Richard Bona, his talent is not the least of all. It confirms the tradition that the bassists from Cameroon are among the most popular in the world. Player of jazz sanitized with the scent of the traditional and urban music of the southern tropics, Zaki who resides since 1998 in France, is the author of two eclectic albums. Enfants du village (Children from the village), released in 2003 and Reflex in 2007. In an unpublished interview, Zaki talks about his music from his band Zaki Groove and his vision of contemporary African music.

Hi Zaki, Flashmag! and his readership are happy to have you as guest of the music page this month.

Hi, delighted to be yours

Music is everywhere in Africa, but not everyone becomes a musician so what brought you into music? and why the choice of the bass guitar?

There is music everywhere in Africa. As soon as we're born we cry and for me it's already music. I become a musician by my family. My paternal grandfather was a tam-tam maker. The traditional phone for insiders. My maternal grandfather was a guitarist, village doctor, and chief of his tribe. My older brother Bihina Flavien, was a great guitarist. He was multi-instrumentalist ... he took me often with him to concerts. Then my mother being a chorister also made me attend sessions with the choir of the Church. It is through her that I discovered the balafon … An instrument that I will play in wake and carnivals. The bass guitar I discover it and adopt it as instrument after the death of my elder brother, and it is also at that time that I get involved body and soul in the music… The choice of the guitar bass was not a choice as the lack of musical instruments made that the only instrument that was hanging around me was this bass. So, I tried to play it being sometimes ingenious… my amp was a radio cassette ...

The guitar strings were often brake cables of motorcycles ...

After having honed your skills in Africa for logical reasons of expansion, you will showcase your talent in the West and especially in France, however if you had to say a word about your period of learning in Cameroon what does it represent for you in your career?

My first years of music in Cameroon resemble what is commonly called galley, it was not obvious, to go to concerts in cities near the capital like Akonoliga with some of the most prominent artist of the time in the country, such as K. Tino, or Essama Elyse, And go home without a penny when you are a man with duties it was not very pleasant but the passion was stronger the proof the music we are still on it ... But it was a kind of military service that seasoned me to the trials of life

When you arrive in France in 1998, how was your integration into the arts? And classic course like some before you, you go back to school why did you think it was necessary to go back to school, what it brought to your art?

There are no schools of music by the ear ...or in the street ... In France I go to school to understand what it is .... So, I did a school of jazz and world music. In France the problem remains the same when you are black choices can be challenging. I do not know why they call my music Afro jazz ... I would just say that I make music ...

In France you form a group of Music Zaki Groove, what is the history of this band?

This group is made of the musicians I met at the jazz school. And in some jazz clubs in Paris the Jawad KF. Which no longer exists alas.

Your first Album Enfants du village children of the Village comes out in 2003 if you had to say a word about its quintessence, and its emotional value, what is it for you? Children of the village is an album with a preventive aim ... Gentrification… The death of villages ... The death of our cultures .... In favor of Western modernity.

4 years later in 2007 you will release Reflex an album of 10 tracks that confirms your trends Jazz Afro Groove, this album represents what for you?

The reflection on the real ... This transition between what we have and that we do not exploit, and what others give us and that we consume without thinking too much ... I evoke for example electricity and solar energy. Our lifestyle ... is palm wine, lesser than Scottish whiskey? The contrast between natural tobacco and the Marlboro pack. When creating your work what inspires you the most? Do you have a message to pass with your art? The future of Cameroon and Africa, worries me, When I see in what direction the continent is going. It is important to ask the right questions to get right answers… Younger you were known more as a musician accompanying others on stage and studio, how was your transition to the stage and 15 years later after the release of your first solo effort, how do you like this evolution that your career follows?

It's not easy, but the freedom is worth taking ...

Some accuse the new wave of artists, to want to be stars before the craft. And some more and more answer that it's also an art of playing the star, because the job of star is an art, at the era of reality shows, how do you like this situation can you be a star without art, or to be a star is also an art?

Does Africa really need this today? Some even think that they play football in space ... Africa should find the toolbox of ancestors .... Stop to dance only, since we already know how to dance before even walking. It is necessary to work it is the only way to salvation…

Music in Africa seems to be rich in styles, but poor in the exploitation of talents in your opinion what is missing? why things seem so complicated for artists in Africa? In any case it is not only music ... It's mostly folklore. Traditional rhythms ... Reason why I speak of toolbox because it is the crucible which has the secret ... What is bothersome is that the last educators of the kinds of the deep Africa are scarce... and the youth without reference are doing the best they can ... That's what gives the amalgam we see today.

It’s been a while that the public is been waiting for your 3rd album… when can we expect it?

If all is well by March, the next album will be released ...

At the end of this interview do you have a special word to the public what are your new year resolutions?

Do you have some concert dates with your band Zaki Groove?

I'll go to India for the end of the album ... Then I'll keep you posted

Zaki, Flashmag and his readership say thank you for this interview.

Laurent Evini Heritage

Interview by Hubert Marlin


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