NOTV Blog Focus: Borrina Mapaka – Brazzaville. Talking Music, effects Global pandemic in the Creative Industry
Unfortunately, like the rest of us, the Global Pandemic (Coronavirus) enraged and increased around the world, halting his project and giving him a lengthier opportunity to explore and enjoy more of what Abidjan (where he’s holed up at) has to offer.
With 3 music videos released for songs in the new Album, NOTV Blog’s Olusegun Sky decided to delve into the musical world of the man who has exported Africa at every turn in the last decade and more.
NOTV Blog: Tell us about your background in Music?
Hello ! Thanks for your interview and letting me talk about my music on Naija Online TV.
To talk about my background in music !!! Interesting !!! I always wanted to be a musician since I was a little boy.
Every Saturdays, my father who loved music a lot used to bring me to see musicians at Parafifi, at Nganda of Bacongo where some musicians like Pamelo Mouka, Youlou Mabiala used to play.
At six years old, I made my first guitar with one string that I took with me everywhere.
When I was at school, a teacher caught me playing guitar. And this made me referred to as “The Griot of the school“ and asked me to play every Saturday morning after the manual labor.
Professors and students were my first public.
During the four years that I stayed in this school, my shows were adorned with dance movements and 3 percussionists who play on big cans. We were called upon for animations in inter-school meetings.
When I was ten, I left for Pointe-Noire and had to leave my guitar in Brazzaville. My parents didn’t like me spending all my time with that instrument. But there, they couldn’t enrol me in a school, so I spent a year singing and dancing by the sea.
When I returned to Brazzaville, my guitar had disappeared and I devoted myself more to dancing. But I still wanted to play the guitar! I started looking into borrowing a guitar for repeat. I attended the choirs in the churches.
At the end of the rehearsals, I was given the instruments to wipe and store, which gave me the opportunity to play on unplugged guitars. In 1989, I got my first guitar.
With friends, I formed a funk band called The Strong Boys, where I sang and wrote songs. It was at this time that I began to take an interest in the traditional rhythms of my country and to integrate them into my music and my dance.
As I had many facilities to improvise, I was called to animate at parties. My first songs date from that time (1989/1990).
In 1996, Irène Tassembedo, visiting Brazzaville during a tour, spotted me, I was selected by Afrique en Créations, and did an internship with her then with Germaine Acogny before coming to work with the Compagnie Ebène d’Irène Tassembedo in Paris in 1997.
I also was the Choregrapher of Drums of Brazza during a few years that gave me the opportunity to travel worldwide.
I created my label in Paris and produced artists. While making my way back to the USA where I also organised dance workshops for about ten years.
I’ve got as of present, more than 12 albums which mixes traditional African sonorities and afro-folk.
My album “Yula“ was featured on the playlist six months of the BBC and has earned an international world music award in Quebec. My CD “Marianne“ is entered directly in the 15th position of the playlist of Francophonie Diffusion.
My album – “The Forest Man“ (2016), was African electro acoustic with a theme of the deforestation.
My project, Or Angel (December 2019) is reggae music with 2 video clips : “ Sweet Love “ and the clip “ Money “.
The release of my last album “ Je Suis Là “ was the 1st march 2020 with 3 clips now “ Je Suis Là “, “ Ba Soucis “ and the last one “ C’est Pas Bien “. It’s afro pop and Afrobeat music…
NOTV Blog: You led dance workshops in the United States for a long time (10 years). How has that impacted your music career and as a person?
Yes. It was a very interesting and rewarding adventure. I learnt a lot about energy, the movement, vibration and people.
I always dance even during my concerts. For me, music and dance always work together. I learnt different kind of music. I’m from the Kongo. It was interesting to mix different culture in my music.
This period gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people and to collaborate with a lot of artists like Isaac James, B. Smiley, Renée Wilson, Cody Carpenter, Philip Crosby or the Cherokee Studios (for Cirque du Soleil) as well. I did a lot of concerts in USA too like Berkley World Music Festival, Homo African Festival in Portland, One Root Festival in Roseville, Whole Earth Festival in Davis, Kimballs Est in Oakland, Gypsie Soul, grass Valley, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in San Francisco..
I made the first part of Willy Nelson, Concert with Alasdair Fraser (violinist) in Nevada City, touring in Alaska with Ginger Ninja band… That was great and an unforgettable adventure ! I still have a lot of friends and a lot of artists I still work with over there!
NOTV Blog: Your recent video – C’est Pas Bien – What was the inspiration around the song and how has it been received in Congo, Abidjan and in the world at large?
My recent video “ C’est Pas Bien “ was shot in Accra / Ghana. I worked with Anthony Osafo who did a very good job.
With this music I wanted to go back to my African Rhythm even if they’re always a part of me when I compose cause my music and I are just one ! I wanted to have fun, dance. I specially composed this album called “ Je Suis Là “ for the African market cause I think it is very important these days to highlight African culture by mixing ancient and modern rhythms.
***As African artists, we must spread our art throughout the world and let people discover our music and culture.***
But I’m very happy and proud to see my music cross countries… I’ve got fans in Africa of course, France, USA, Europe…..
In The Kongo (DRC) my music has a good impact with my fans and medias too. We just started the promotion for this video and I already have some positives feedbacks from media such as TV Congo and of course without forgetting Naija Online TV which just allowed us to broadcast 3 clips from the new album on their site and indulge me in an interview to talk about my music…
This is really great, hope to come and play in Nigeria soon! In Abidjan, I was ranked in the Top 10 of the week of April 28, 2020 on Ivoire + TV with my previous video “Ba Soucis” from the same album. I am looking forward to several media returns on Abidjan knowing that the video “C’est Pas Bien” has just come out!!!
But it is already very well received and gives me a lot of hopes for the future!
For France, we’re waiting for medias feedbacks. cause I’m holed up in Abidjan because of the covid 19. But my french fans are still there with me !!!
NOTV Blog: You have 2 more videos, what are these about and any chance we would be seeing music surrounding the current Coronavirus Pandemic?
Yes I’ve got the one called “ Je Suis Là “ released in December the 20th and the other one “ Ba Soucis “ released in February the 20th.. I worked with Anthony Osafo for those two clips too. They’re were shot in Ghana too. “ Je Suis Là “ is a song to have fun, dance ! The chorus says : “ Je suis venu me lâcher, si tu me vois en club c’est pour m’éclater …“ (I’ve come to have a blast, if you see me in a club it’s to have fun….). So just to have fun !!!
In the other clip “ Ba Soucis “, it talks about the love relationship when you have problems with your love because of the family (mother in law) doesn’t accept you ! And about the feeling that you miss your girlfriend….
I don’t know yet if I’ll compose music sorrounding the coronavirus Pandemic. I just let inspiration come to me and be !!!
All the music I compose have a message to transfer to every beings even if it’s to have fun ! One of my song called “ Yula “ which I won the 1st international world music price was dedicated to people who have lost loved ones in different clashes after the war. In this song, I asked the elders what is the legacy they left us when we see all their wars and the blood that flows!
So I just let inspiration come to me and be !!! Maybe in the future who knows what the inspiration will be !!!! 🙂
NOTV Blog: Many creatives have taken to social media to stay relevant. In Nigeria, almost every artiste or stake holders in Music have taken to social media to engage with their fans, how are the creatives in the DRC handling the pandemic and what role does the “Haves” have to play towards aiding the “Have Not”? Especially in the Music Industry.
I think that as a Congolese artist (Brazza and Kinshasa) myself, all the creatives of the DRC do as all the artists do!
First, he remains confined in order to stay alive. Some live on social networks to keep in touch with their fans… I think that all artists around the world do more or less the same thing!
What role does the “Haves” have to play towards aiding the “Have Not”? Especially in the Music Industry.
Very interesting question! I think that everyone should help each other because the union is the strength, especially in this period during which many people are waking up on a lot of things and at a lot of level. Some have become aware of their priority in life and their way of consuming! So it will necessarily have an impact in the music industry too. Now how exactly, I don’t know yet !!!
It’s too early to say anything at the moment!!! Already there will be almost no concerts this summer!!! Right now it’s hot for the whole music industry. But I remain very positive so that stronger collaboration between artists, label … will come in the future!
NOTV Blog: What should we be expecting from Borrina Mapaka in the next few months should life return to the norm?
Life goes on ! I think nothing will be the same at all ! As I told you before many people are waking up on a lot of things and at a lot of level. so our way of consuming, of working will change! Many people will do everything to work in different ways being independent to the maximum. I think it will be valid in all professional circles. As far as I am concerned, I think strongly and even more than before!!
In the future, I have two big concerts. One in august the 9th in Montauroux (south of France) with a first part of the French band “ Les Innocents “ and an other one called “ Le Vol de Boli “ with Damon Albarn (producer), Abderrahmane Sissako (stage director) and Charles Castella (film director) whose show will take place from the 2nd to the 18th october 2020 at the théâtre du châtelet in Paris / France.
I’m the lead and have a featuring with Fatoumata Diawara. I’ve got a lot of projects for the future. Just stay connected !!!!
NOTV Blog: Has your success impacted on younger generations of artists?
Yes of course ! I worked with younger artists than me. Everybody learn from everybody. I’ve got my own music style, so…
NOTV Blog: How have you been affected the most during this global pandemic?
I was touring in Ghana the weeks before the lockdown. I went for a few days to the MASA in Abidjan.
And that’s when they blocked all the borders. I got stuck in Abidjan with other artists I know from Chad cause it was not possible to go back to Ghana cause I’m not from this country !
All my studio projects more at least stand by. I see what I can develop on the spot despite the current context. Even if i’m an artist, I’ve got bills too !!!
NOTV Blog: What are the top 2 places you will recommend about Abidjan?
The Plateau, and the neighbourhood of Yopougon which is known as one of the most moving neighbourhoods.
NOTV Blog: And how your music is perceived in your home country and in your home town?
I’m from the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My music is perceived very well in my home country and in my home town also. I try to make sure my music is made for the world. My last albums are distributed on every platforms so available worldwide.
NOTV Blog: Give us a sense of what lockdown is like in your home country
It’s hard ! As you know, a lot of people work day to day to eat! Everyone tries to get out of it but it is not
without difficulties! I am very sad!!