AL AKHAREEN (meaning "the others" in Arabic) is conceived as a reflection on otherness, a leap forward towards a common space to build together, an impertinent wander on both sides of the imaginary borders that fragment music and the world.
But who are AL AKHAREEN? Real men and women? An ancestral fear? A media construct? A phantasmagorical projection? From the neighbour to the foreigner, from the new to the migrant, the other is very widely varied, but is perceived as simply different.
And who are we? Osloob was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and I am the daughter of Syrian immigrants in France. He is a Palestinian there, I am an Arab here.
What we embody is linked to a violent history, to wars in which we did not participate but whose consequences we suffer. We have had to face the rejection of societies which, in different ways, refuse our presence and our existence within them.
Despite ourselves, each of us embodies the other, the foreigner, the enemy.
I met Osloob in 2008 in Beirut when a producer invited me to play with his band, the legendary KATIBEH 5, for the release of their album.
I returned to Beirut many times, sometimes for several months, to work with him.
Osloob produced instrumentals, not only for his group, but for an army of rappers throughout the Arab world, from Lebanon to Morocco via Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Tunisia. I recorded improvisations on these instrumentals and he sampled the phrases that he liked.
In 2014, Osloob moved to France and we gradually developed the idea of working together in a new way. We started by playing as a duo, with him on machines, voice and beatbox, and me on flutes. After some concerts, our duo became a trio with DJ Junkaz Lou on turntables.
Then we wanted to further develop instrumental and jazz aspects of our line-up, and so we invited Mehdi Chaïb on sax and percussion, Sébastien Le Bon on drums, and Viryane Say on bass.
The music we play is a bridge between two worlds. Our instrumental and electronic music are one: they cannot be separated from each other, nor taken one without the other. The instrumentals we have produced together preceded the writing of our themes: once the instrumental was composed on the machines, Osloob wrote a text and I wrote a musical theme, as if the theme was a text in its own right. Osloob’s rap is conceived as melodic, rhythmic song, and my flute as the flow of a second rapper.
AL AKHAREEN is the result of many years of work and joint reflection. What is the place of hip-hop and jazz in today’s world? Beyond musical styles that have been compartmentalized, is it not also the partitioning and compartmentalization of societies that appears in this world, with the segregation between popular hip-hop and elitist jazz? It is these boundaries that we want to break down with new music, freeing ourselves from these determinisms.
This musical experience is constructed like a dance of points of view, sometimes here, sometimes there. Through diversity, the others escape from boxes and from categories.
The others exist and one must learn to live with them.