Music Q&A: Dobet Gnahoré

Ivorian Coast singer Dobet Gnahoré, also an accomplished dancer, is on a short tour including Hubs, Sheffield, 16 Oct, Manchester's Band on the Wall, 19 Oct, and Musicport, Whitby, 20 Oct

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Life! Experiences! I really try to enhance the modern side of Africa through rhythms and languages from Africa. I am basically interested in anything that comes from Africa – I am a true panafricanist. Also, social media has helped a lot. It keeps me informed.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
I have evolved a lot. I’ve been training and working as an artist since I was 12 years old. I first practised dance, then percussion and singing. More recently, I’ve been influenced by electronic samples, which I’m now incorporating into my music, and my new album Miziki is the first real step in this direction. That said, it has taken me a long time to arrive where I am today. My way was paved by encounters and partnerships that have helped me a lot.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Right now I am working on my new Miziki live show but I’m already composing material for the next album. I also recently had two roles as an actress. I have no boundaries!

What’s on your rider?
I am gluten free but for my voice I ask for ginger, honey and lemon, which works wonders and is a real energy boost.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Gosh, so much has happened. The most magical incident actually started badly. It was in the middle of an African tour and our tour bus broke down. We had to wait 10 hours for the mechanic to arrive, but while we waited, lots of children started to turn up, as they were curious about us, so we started to sing and play for them. It ended up as a big party with all the children joining in, singing and dancing. We also shared our food with them and it was a magical, if not surreal, moment.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Joga from Bjork. It thrills me each time I listen to it.

What’s your worst lyric?
This is hard to answer. In Africa, songs are part of an oral tradition. Most of my lyrics are in Bété or other African languages and give advice on education, treating human beings well, being a better person and so on. So I can’t really say there are any bad ones.

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