Sibo Bangoura was born to the beat of a drum and hasn’t stopped perfecting his art since. That’s just the way it is in The Republic of Guinea on the west coast of Africa –a country renowned for Djembe playing.
What is your background, and from what age have you been playing the Djembe?
I am from Guinea in West Africa. I grew up with music all around, as my parents were musicians. I can’t remember when I first would have played a drum … I was very young. I started proper lessons with a teacher when I was about 6-years-old.
What are some of the other instruments used in West African percussion?
The Djembe is the main drum played in Guinea, but there is also the Doun Doun, Kenkeni and Sangban which make up the bass section; these three drums are all played with sticks. There are many other drums coming from other regions in West Africa, such as the Sabar drum (Senegal), the Tama (Senegal), the Panlogo (Ghana) and the Siko (Guinea). West African percussion also commonly uses the Balafon, which is like the western xylophone and the Calabash.
Tell us about the newly formed Sydney group Keyim Ba, in which you are currently lead soloist.
Keyim Ba is a group that came together when my first CD was launched in Sydney in 2009. It is a collection of great musicians from different parts of West Africa, including Guinea, Senegal and Mali, joined by a few Australian musicians. My brother Mohamed Bangoura is in the group playing Kora (West African harp) and Djembe. Our guitarist, Moussa Diakete from Mali, used to be the lead guitarist for the great Salif Keita – he is an exceptional musician. It would take me too long to talk about all of the members of the band. They are all such talented musicians, and I am always so happy to play with them. While based on traditional West African music, using traditional rhythms and melodies, Keyim Ba also explores contemporary influences, including Reggae and Rap.
What other projects are you involved in throughout Australia?
Currently my main focus is with Keyim Ba. We are set to go on tour around Australia in 2012, with a grant we received from Kultour. We will be touring for around 2 months doing performances and workshops Australia wide. We are very excited about this opportunity. I also worked on a stage show, Rhythm Safari, in 2010, which is still a developing project that we hope will tour again at some stage in the new year. I have also been invited to work on a collaborative album with some Australian artists based on the NSW South Coast, recording early next year.
What makes traditional Guinean dance and rhythm so powerful?
Rhythm and dance is our culture in Guinea. People are so passionate about it, because it is an expression of who we are. From a young age artists are playing drums and dancing in Guinea, so they have so much energy and enthusiasm. It is in their blood and becomes a part of their everyday life. The drumming is fast and physical, so drummers must be strong and fit in order to play well. The dancing is high energy and physically demanding. These artists rehearse every day, morning and afternoon. They also get power from each other when playing as a group.
Where else in the world have your travels taken you, and what have been some of the most memorable?
I have been all over the world for my work, including Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, New Caledonia, Fiji. I have made several visits to Japan and Korea on tour with my older brother Epizo Bangoura, doing performances and workshops. I always love playing with him. I also really enjoyed my time in Bali playing at the Bali Spirit Festival. Fiji and New Caledonia felt a bit like home to me. I have made so many great friends on all my travels.
The Keyim Ba group will be coming to Dance Studio 8 in Port Macquarie to perform on October 15. Have you been to the area before?
I have visited Port Macquarie before working with Drum Circle Events doing corporate team building workshops. I am looking forward to being there again.
What can people expect from the performance?
People will have a great time. It will give them a little taste of West Africa. They should expect to be up dancing from the beginning to the end. It will be a fantastic night.