Damon Albarn thinks world needs Africa Express
- Bang Showbiz
- 12 July 2019
Damon Albarn thinks his Africa Express initiative can be "very powerful" and is what the world "needs" because it brings people together
Damon Albarn thinks his Africa Express initiative can be "very powerful" and is what the world "needs".
The Blur frontman founded the collective – which brings together African, Middle Eastern and Western musicians for recording projects and live shows – in 2006 and admitted the project has been a "dream" because everyone involved has had a "positive" experience.
He said: "It's a dream of a place that people find comfortable, safe and positive.
"Communicating with people and making emotional connections is what we need right now.
"Without sounding like too much of a hippie, it's why Africa Express can be very powerful.
"[And] we get to have fantastic adventures and do amazing things."
The 51-year-old star has recently been working in Johannesburg with various musicians, including Super Furry Animals' frontman Gruff Rhys, Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman, and singer Georgia and the 18-track album they've made, 'EGOLI', features songs in Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, and Acholi, as well as English and Welsh, but Damon insisted language isn't a barrier to recognising a good song.
He told The Sun newspaper: "In places like Mali, I immediately connected with their sense of melody.
"They love minor chords which is very similar to our folk tradition. Then, of course, blues and rock and roll emanated from Africa."
One particular Africa Express highlight for Damon was the 2012 London Olympics when Sir Paul McCartney was joined on stage by Guinea's Ba Cissoko.
He recalled: "He's playing next to them and they've got no idea who is. But because they're all musicians, they're connected.
"It was hilarious watching him but it was nice for him as well. What a joy to just be the musician. After all, that's what he is in essence, isn't he?"
The Gorillaz star is now keen to take some of the African musicians to America.
He said: "It's got to be handled diplomatically because you can't just turn up on someone's doorstep and go, 'Hey guys'.
"But our dream is to take an old paddle steamer up the Mississippi."