Release 8 January 2010 on Chapa Blues Records/ Naïve
(Fabrice Bourguignat, Simon Chenet, Christophe Combet, Xavier Hamon)
Yapa is a genuinely independent band, a group of four friends (three guitarists and a percussionist) who have been going to the same gigs and the same bars since they were at school together (in the Paris suburbs). At a time when hits and ringtones sound as if they’ve rolled off some production line, Yapa tries to preserve a hands-on approach to making music. In the last eight years, the band have brought out two self-produced instrumental albums (3,000 copies of each), reinvesting the fees from gigs to make first ‘Chroniques d’Endoo’ and then ‘Can I Talk To You?’, a live recording of a tour in the east through the Balkans. They regularly set the stage of some of the best clubs in Paris (L’Entrepôt, Le Sunset, L’Etage, La Java, Le Baiser Salé) and have gained an underground reputation as well as a small band of loyal fans. Yapa has always written songs that take the listener off on a journey, and these musical postcards from Burkina Faso tell the story of their greatest adventure to date.
The album ‘Pariwaga’:
As its name suggests, this album was recorded in the capitals of France and Burkina Faso. This was the first journey to black Africa by Yapa’s four French musicians, who came to Ouagadougou for the festival ‘Jazz à Ouaga’. As well as performing live, they made the most of this opportunity to do a weeklong studio recording of some vocals. (The story of these sessions and their African trip are told in details in the 16-pages booklet that comes with the album. It is a travel log illustrated with photos.) The band had composed some blues/folk/funk instrumentals before leaving France and then adapted them to the sensitivities of their guest singers and musicians once they arrived in Burkina Faso. The album contains two collaborations with the now-famous Victor Déméand his guitarist Issouf Diabaté, the balafon player Ali Diarraand his brother Salif Diarra, a kora player and backing vocalist for Démé, who this time takes over lead vocals on the song ‘Kanata’. As the tracks play, we meet other talented troublemakers of the Burkina Faso music scene: black punk with a burning afro-beat touch Baba Commandant, the storyteller KPG, and the ragga toaster Wendlamita Kouka in a duet with Julien Bordier, who was travelling with Yapa. The Algerian band Djmawi Africa (a famous band in Algeria) were also in Ouagadougou for the same festival, ‘Jazz à Ouaga’ and they teamed up with Yapa in the studio to play two of the album’s best songs, ‘Djwad’ and ‘Bania’ that also featured the excellent Tuareg guitarist Koudédé (winner of the Best New Musical Talent prize at the ‘Festival du Désert’ in Essakane in 2009). Even after a week of recording together, Yapa brought back several instrumentals to Paris with them that they hadn’t used with the African vocalists. They decided to put them on the album anyway and to allow themselves one final whim: they invited Patrice, the great reggae singer, to sing the last vocals on the album (‘Move And Give Way’). The entire project was then filtered through sound engineer Sylvain Biguet’s console before Sodi (Fela, Femi Kuti, Rachid Taha, Les Négresses vertes, FFF) did the final mix.
The label Chapa Blues: Yapa’s album is the second release by the label Chapa Blues after the amazing success of Victor Démé’s album (elected Best Record of the Year by France Inter listeners, for example). As well as showcasing the obvious talent of this group of four French musicians, ‘Pariwaga’ also gives an idea of what some of the many artists who regularly record at the label’s studio sound like. (You can listen to them on the label’s website: www.chapablues.com). Having signed a three-year contract with Naïve, Chapa Blues Records hopes to release albums by several of the guest artists appearing on Yapa’s album such as Baba Commandant.