Tell us about your work.
Seffarine's music is informed by our members' widely varying backgrounds. Lamiae is a singer from Morocco with a background in Andalusi and Arabic music. My main background is Spanish flamenco guitar, but I also studied Arabic oud in Morocco and have worked for years with musicians from many backgrounds from Zimbabwean to Persian to jazz. Bobak Salehi is a master multi-instrumentalist with a background in classical Persian music. Damian Erskine is an internationally renowned bassist. And our extremely versatile percussionist, Manavihare Fiaindratovo, originally from Madagascar, adds new color to all the different backgrounds represented in our music. We write our own music and lyrics, sung in Lamiae's native Arabic language. We are based in Portland, OR but are enjoying traveling for work and recently recorded a CD in Spain, in collaboration with several of the leading artists in flamenco music.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist, and where were you?
Nat: At age 11 in my hometown of Portland, my first music teacher (Harvey Weiss, trumpet) told me he'd take me out of school, take me to New York and that I'd just play my horn all day. I was in the 6th grade, excited about music and that sounded perfect. Although I didn't follow that particular course, it planted the goal in my head of dedicating myself to music.
Lamiae: I was age 17 when I realized I wanted to dedicate myself to singing. Unfortunately, although Morocco is a very musical country, music as a profession is difficult and often frowned upon. There was not much support for my interest in music in the beginning. I am happy to be in an environment now where I can continue growing as an artist and collaborate with the many great musicians I meet in the States and on our travels.
"If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?"
My family, my wife (who is also the singer!) and my guitar.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten in your career thus far?
Practice, practice, practice. Whether artistic gigs, commercial gigs or anything in between - the rhythm, technique, tone, dynamics, harmonic concept has to be excellent. I have been reminded of this countless times.
Name an artist you’d love to meet and why?
Toumani Diabate, a great composer and the leading kora player from Mali. Lamiae and I have both admired the details of his writing and playing for years. We'd love to talk to him about his approach to traditional music, pushing the boundaries of his tradition and collaborating with musicians from other traditions.
“If I weren’t doing this I’d…”
We dedicate much of our time to the relief efforts of the refugee crisis. If most of my time wasn't going to music, I would love to dedicate myself full time to some of the humanitarian groups we work with and advocate for. In the meantime, we have found that music also has a place in these efforts.
What are your 3 goals for the next year?
We are looking forward to continuing composing the music for our next record, booking more concerts for 2018 and beyond, and getting in touch with new colleagues.
What are you working on now?
At the moment we are putting together ideas for a collaboration with a well known Indonesian jazz guitarist which will be performed in Jakarta, Indonesia this August. We are also composing the music and lyrics for our next record.