Artist to Artist: Mowgan and Fanta Sayon Sissoko
A chance run in with an old friend brought French producer Mowgan and singer Fanta Sayon Sissoko together. After divulging his ambition to work with a Malian vocalist to musician Eric Diaouré, a meeting was set up between Mowgan and Fanta and within just a few days they were in the studio.
The result of those sessions is an album of vibrant, emotive productions that fuse Mowgan’s love of Africa’s diverse sounds and his penchant for crafting electronic music with Fanta’s raw, passionate vocals.
Marking the third album in a series of five that celebrate vocalists and performers of African heritage matched with Mowgan’s productions, L’enfants De Kita also features performers and instrumentation from Solo Sanou, Yohan Hernandez, Malian rapper Madani Touré aka Chanana, and Mamadou ‘Madou’ Dembele on the ngoni, an instrument her father famously played alongside artists like Baaba Maal, Salif Keita and Amadou and Mariam.
Here they discuss the influence of Fanta’s father, musical ambitions, inspirations and channeling a message through music…
Mowgan: How was your first experience with electronic music?
Fanta: It was a really interesting and dynamic experience for me. It allowed me to open myself in a new style, to get new knowledge about music and I’m really happy that you gave me that chance.
Mowgan: Where does your passion for music come from?
Fanta: For as long as I remember music was always present for me. It was not hard coming from a Griot family, in between the lullaby voices of my grand mothers Kankouba Diawara and Kandia Kouyate or the rhythms of the n’goni from my dad.
Mowgan: Tell me me more about your dad…
Fanta: His name is Sayon Sissoko, the inventor of the djeli n’goni with seven strings. He had the chance to play with all the biggest in west Africa. From studio to live he was playing with Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, Amadou and Mariam, Rokia Traoré and many others got a small contribution from his n’goni, but also sometime guitar.
Mowgan: What’s the message that you want to give with your lyrics?
Fanta: I try to open people’s eyes about this problem going on all over Africa that no one talks about but is here right next to us.
Mowgan: What’s your project at the moment?
Fanta: I’ve just started touring again. This time, lockdown, was really hard for me being far from the scene. Next I’m preparing the second album of Fantadamali with Adama Keita.
Mowgan: How is to be an artist when you are a mother?
Fanta: For me it’s easy, I’ve grown up with music, I’m married to music. I am lucky to have a husband and kids who are really supportive and they motivate me to accomplish my dreams.
Mowgan: What’s your dream? What you really would love to accomplish in your career?
Fanta: My dream is to open a house of music in Kita where I was born. The point is to make a cultural exchange with Europe. European musicians will come to introduce instruments to Malian kids but also African musicians could introduce instruments to Europeans.
Fanta: How did you learn music?
Mowgan: I’ve never really learnt any instruments. I was just a DJ who wanted to step up and produce his own music. So I learnt piano by myself then a little percussion, bass and sax but none of them good enough to play live, just enough to jam and make music.
Fanta: After spending time with you in the studio I can say that I’ve been impressed by the way that you can manipulate sound, how did you learn all of this?
Mowgan: I think most of my skills in producing and engineering come from meeting with other producers and engineers who all gave me a little of their knowledge. But I have to say that Eric Volta has been the one who showed me the most back in the time when we were sharing a studio.
Fanta: How did you come up with the wish of doing African music?
Mowgan: It really came out when I was in Miami in 2010. I remember it was the first time I’ve met the French twins and Boddhi Satva. When Boddhi dropped his remix of Mangala Camara – ‘Wilile’ I think that it was clear that I wanted to go in that direction.
Fanta: That’s funny that you mentioned Mangala because it is my uncle but also one of my biggest sources of inspiration. What about you what’s your biggest source of inspiration?
Mowgan: Funny that we never talked about this before! For me I would say that my brother was my biggest source of inspiration, he showed me the way. For many years my biggest motivation was to make it for him because he couldn’t accomplish his dreams.
Fanta: Why did you choose to live in Berlin?
Mowgan: For many reasons but for sure the music is the biggest. The scene is big but I also like the fact that you have the chance to meet a lot of people related to music. All of these people that I met since I’m here made me the artist that I am right now some how.
Fanta: Why did you start your label?
Mowgan: Because it was always complicated for me to sell my ideas to other labels and sometimes hard to wait so long before your release could go on some label. Also I wanted to share my meetings with other artists, like you, who have helped me grow during my career.
Buy L’enfants De Kita.