World Music Matters

KasbaH rocks indie music festival

Audio 10:00
Nadir Moussaoui, aka KasbaH, opens the Les Aventuriers festival, December 2017
Nadir Moussaoui, aka KasbaH, opens the Les Aventuriers festival, December 2017 © Rebecca Vaughan

Nadir Moussaoui, aka KasbaH, concocts a savvy blend of electro and traditional beats from his north African roots. RFI met the young performer at the recent Aventuriers indie music festival just east of Paris where he launched his "electro travelogue" EP Pigments.


After starting out playing guitar and vocals in a punk band, Moussaoui took on the pseudo KasbaH four years ago for his solo electro-world project culminating in a debut EP.

"It's a kind of electronic travelogue," he told RFI, "a mix of machines and traditional or acoustic instruments like percussion, keyboards and guitar. I do vocals too and I’m learning the oud so there’s some oud in there."

Some sequences are mixed live on the decks, others are pre-recorded providing him with a rich palette of sounds picked up in everyday life.

"More and more I record sounds in the street, in the metro. I put them in the machine and rework them."

Deeply attached to the working-class town of Fontenay-sous-Bois, east of Paris, he also runs sound workshops in local schools. Their sound loops feature in his set.

KasbaH's elaborate scenography at Les Aventuriers indie music festival
KasbaH's elaborate scenography at Les Aventuriers indie music festival ©Rebecca Vaughan

Reconnecting with Algerian roots

KasbaH’s universe is strong on visuals; each piece of music has its own video projection with a predominantly warm or cold colour. Little surprise he called the debut EP Pigments.

"I see music as painting," he says. "I imagine each piece of music and then I’ll draw it. I keep a sketch book with me all the time. The pigments are all the traditions I bind together using the machines to make this avant garde music."

Those traditions come from Algeria, birthplace of his parents.

"A few years ago, something clicked in my head and I felt the need to connect with my roots," he says. "That pushed me to do this project bridging traditional and avant garde music. Music is definitely a medium for reconnecting with my roots and my culture."

But he also wants to connect to other cultures.

"I invite others to join me like Souleymane Thiello from Senegal, or El JaguaR from South America. I’m trying to open up my music to the outside world."

Next stop Paris

KasbaH buys into the musical school of life. Self-taught and proud of it, he's never worried about "forging a style", preferring to go wherever the mood, and opportunity, took him.

"I think if you want to get on, you mustn’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes I flopped, and sometimes I felt stronger for it."

The town of Fontenay has given him plenty of support to grow as a musician, not least via the Aventuriers music festival, now in its 13th edition, and which prides itself on nurturing indie talent.

"I’ve had 30 concerts but none in Paris, and I don’t mind," he laughs. "One day I will, but I’m waiting for the right opportunity. For the moment I love the banlieue: it's got venues, there's lots to do, a good support network... and a public!"

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