Musician Daby Touré has brought together a modern and traditional feel for rhythms that have been crafted by experiencing the music from New York, Mali, Paris and Senegal. Born in Mauritania, Touré’s wide-ranging use of music and storytelling often shares with his audiences a sense of belonging while showing the diversity and powerful stories that life can bring, and which Touré is a master at expressing musically.
Not surprisingly, Touré has collaborated with the likes of fellow world-artist Peter Gabriel, and also worked with recording and mixing engineer Ben Finlay, who has worked with artists like Sting, Jeff Beck and Simply Red, to name just a few.
Touré was recently interviewed about his music and touring by the Ithaca Times in advance of his upcoming performance at the Haunt.
Ithaca Times: What was the feeling like when you first heard music? And how did that make a difference for you?
Daby Touré: I have been surrounded by music since the day I was born. Where I grew up in Mauritania, music is a part of daily life, and many members of my family sang and danced. I don’t remember the first time I ever heard music, but I’m sure I was in love with it from the very first moment. It has been natural to me ever since.
IT: What musical influence did the band The Police have on you? Which song was it you first heard?
DT: For us in Africa, the Police was “world music.” We were hearing all kinds of music from outside of Africa, [and] artists such as Bob Marley, The Police, and Dire Straits were very popular. I think it is because we heard something familiar in them. The Police and Bob Marley had that reggae flavor, which has its roots in Africa. Dire Straits had the blues, and the bright electric guitar, which sounded so much like the traditional music of the Sahara Desert. You can imagine what it must have been like for a young man in the city of Nouakchott in Mauritania to hear the Police for the first time. It was when I heard the Police album “Reggata De Blanc” that I knew what I wanted to make a life in music.
IT: You grew slowly as a musician while listening to diverse music. But was there one type that still shapes your music now?
DT: I have no type or style. My music is difficult to categorize. Yes, I am African, but my music is not typically African. I am a citizen of the world and I enjoy music from all over. What I do know is that any good vibration will touch me. Even today, I am still listening to all kinds of artists from all over the world. The most important thing to me is that there is truth in the music.
IT: In the long history of music, blues and rock music flow from African music, but talk about how this makes a difference to world music?
DT: From my perspective, the term “world music” includes blues and rock music. What I mean is, if we consider that world music is a mix of the entire world, than when African slaves met Europeans in the Americas they already started the process of making that mixture. By the time I was growing up, what was coming to Africa from America was a long-lost cousin of African music, but it had new flavors that were brought to it by other cultures and experiences. World music is just the laboratory where we create new mixtures from the ingredients we collect from many sources.
IT: What will your musical stories share with the audience at your Ithaca show?
DT: Usually, I first prefer to get to know the place where am going to perform and also meet people and feel the atmosphere. That defines the show, because I incorporate so much from the community and the people I meet. I have been spending a lot of time in Vermont and Montreal in recent years and made many connections and new friends. I have heard Ithaca has a lot of the same spirit, and I look forward to sharing time with new friends. I will play some new songs, as well as older tracks, and I will make new creations as well based on the spirit of the room.
IT: Would you like to say anything more about the music you play?
DT: Singing and playing music is therapy for me. Music has saved my life during times when I have felt alone in the past. My music is about the experience of life. It’s about getting to know the beauty and the truth of life. Basically, it is that simple.
Daby Touré will be performing this coming Saturday at the Haunt.