Monday, August 10, 2009

RIDING THE WAVES: Exclusive Interview with Marie Daulne of ZAP MAMA

Visionary, cultural nomad, healer, mother and one of the most authentic female artists of our time, Marie Daulne has returned from the lab with a new album Recreation (Heads Up International 2009) reflecting her new vision for finding way to healing and rebirth by inviting pleasure into one's life. The singer and songwriter born in Congo, and raised in Belgium, Marie Daulne created the concept ZAP MAMA at the beginning of the 90’s with an acapella group of Afro-European women. Zap Mama’s first full-length album Adventures in Afropea 1 came out in 1993, and she has since released six albums worldwide. In 1996, Marie decided to go solo as Zap Mama and has since integrated a wide variety of genres such as hip hop, Afrobeat, pop, indie, jazz, R&B, funk into a musical blend that is the unmistakable 'Zap Mama' sound. She has collaborated with a number of high profile musicians like Al Jareau, Bobby McFerrin, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Manu Dibango, U Roy, Maria Bethania, Speech (Arrested Development), David Byrne, Hans Zimmer ("Mission Impossible 3"), The Roots, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Common, Bahamdia, DJ Krush, DJ Jazz Jeff, Bilal, Jazzy Fatnastees, Lady Alma, Sergio Mendes, G. Love, Meshell Ndeogecello, and Karriem Riggins, among others. She is a humanitarian at heart, and has used her artistic power and outreach to support projects such as LOVE, LABOR, LOSS: a documentary film that profiles women in Niger, West Africa living with obstetric fistula, and through her most recent involvement in the humanitarian organization CARE's efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates in the world's poorest countries.
Inspired by her first visit to Brazil, Marie's latest project ReCreation is a play on the words multiple meanings: both an invitation to take a break away from the matrix of everyday life and find a way to rediscover and recreate oneself from and through the experience of play. “That moment when you are relaxing and enjoying yourself,” says Daulne, “is the perfect moment to create a new person within yourself – to heal yourself and let go of all the negative aspects of your life. In those times when you relax, you recreate yourself.” In addition to a rhythm section rooted in a rich Brazilian vibe, “ReCreation” boasts a guest list of high-profile vocalists including Bilal, G. Love, actor Vincent Cassel (La Haine, Ocean’s Twelve) and several others. My personal favorite is her collabo with Bilal, called "The Way You Are", a song about love on the next level. Recently, I had a chance to ask her about her new album and get to the more intimate aspects of her art.

LICHIBAN: The new album is entitled ReCreation…knowing that you have a strong spiritual side, I sense that this album is a fruit of an internal rebirth. Would you agree?Marie Daulne: Yes, it was a manifestation that I did not control. It just happened. I always follow my intuition and instincts. I pray and meditate every day for a good balance of well being. This is what the Universe has proposed me.

L: You seem like a cultural nomad, seamlessly melting different traditions of music together into the sound that is so uniquely Zap Mama. What are the ingredients?
MD: 5 elements and love.

L: There is clearly a vision behind all your work. Could you tell me more about the spiritual universe of Zap Mama?
MD: That is a big question. I could take hours to respond. I believe strong in mental power (faith). We just have to (practice) pray every day. Our connection with the essence of live is to be what we want to be. We must feel the vibrations (instincts) that guide us in the right place, at the right time, to the right people. And understand these signs. In theory it’s easy, but in practice it is not. When you have friends (a community, a tribe) that’s undergoing the same process, that helps.
L: Healing & relaxation…could you elaborate on the connection between the two in the context of the new album?
MD: Often we try hard to obtain something. And with this album, I’m proposing to relax. Take it easy. Let it be. Let it go! Believe in your desires, and let the universe guide you – but be awake! Like a curious child. Be able to follow the signs.

L: How long did it take to finish the album?
MD: 6 Months

L: You seem to love to collaborate. On ReCreation, you have worked with high-profile vocalists including Bilal, G. Love, actor Vincent Cassel (La Haine, Ocean's Twelve). How was it working with them?
MD: Magical and Sensual ;)

L: You partnered up with CARE to honor mothers around the world, and donated the revenues from your track, “Hello To Mama?” Could tell us a little bit about the mission of CARE and why you chose to work with them in particular?
MD: I chose them because a few years ago, CARE’s CEO Helen Gayle, invited me to a perform at a CARE conference in Washington DC, where there was a conference/discussion about empowering women. They (CARE) asked for ideas – both big and small – to improve the world. This collaboration for my track ‘Hello to Mama’, given CARE’s campaign for maternal health, and my prior involvement with CARE (I had already been involved with CARE Norway, CARE Mali, CARE Tanzania in the past. We shot a documentary) was a positive and natural extension.
Check out "HELLO MAMA", the video made for Zap Mama's collaborative project with CARE in my earlier post.

Where do you see this album in the evolution of your growth from your first album to the artist behind Recreation in 2009?

MD: My personal evolution is that I recreate new ways of appreciation again and again. Our minds are organic and need to be constantly renewed. We need to feed our souls with simple little things. With this album, I chose to bring people on vacation, feel the beauty, harmony, and color that surrounds us, and let this album be the soundtrack of your pleasures—your vacation.
ZAP MAMA feat. Erykah Badu "Bandy Bandy" from her 2006 release "Ancestry In Progress" featuring Erykah Badu.

L: Ideally, what would you like people to take away from listening to this album?
MD: Pleasure

L: New projects you are working on?
MD: Ohh, a lot -- non stop! But still in development

L: Many of us artists are coming together and realizing that we are on the same path trying to transmit a similar vibration with our art, a positive message of love and healing. I definitely see this tendency growing in Brooklyn, do you see this phenomenon in the arts in other places as well?
MD: Yes. I would always like to meet more artists. I don’t know a lot of artists yet here in Brooklyn.

L: What do you think about the ‘global transformation of consciousness’ many people are talking about these days?
MD: It’s the reason why I moved to the US. To be part of the evolution. During the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s everyone talked about revolution. Now let’s begin the ‘evolution. The election of Obama is definitely part of the reason I moved to the US. I’m open and really want to listen to others. I will soon be giving workshops (teaching my vocal technique) in NYC very soon!
Thank you. MARIE

You can purchase her CD or download the album on Also check out her store for previous releases and link with her on her myspace page.

Check out Marie talking about the album on Fusicology.


rucyl said...

fabulous artist, fabulous interview

VONY said...

she is such a Goddess, great interview questions...thanks for this