Chaka Chouka: “Sharka”
|Tomorrow’s Sun. This song is inspired by the Berber people of Morocco and their music. Mouna’s lyrics reflect their ancestral connection with nature and the philosophy born from this.|
|Gnaoua Reggae. The first track written by Chaka Chouka. It’s a fusion between Moroccan gnaoua music with its ancient African roots and Jamaican reggae. It is this combination between Moroccan music, reggae and funk that defines the whole album. Features Dubulah of Dub Collosus on guitar.|
|Wanna Talk to You. Mouna’s opening vocal is a Sufi prayer. People need to talk more, person to person, to sit down and reason with each other peacefully is Haji Mike’s plea on this tune.|
|Gouli. “Gouli” means “say it to me” in Moroccan Arabic. The rhythms of this track swop between the reggae “steppers” and a version of the Moroccan “chaabi” rhythm, one of the Moroccan pop music beats.|
|Blaadi. “Blaadi” means “my country” in Moroccan Arabic and Mouna’s lyrics reflect the bittersweet feelings of the children of immigrant families towards a “homeland”. Haji Mike experienced this kind of uprootment from Cyprus to Britain and as a refuge in his own homeland.|
|Peace Train. Another lyric reflecting the difficulties of a locked down world and the existential questions thrown up by the situation. Get on board the Peace Train, Haji Mike says, so we can all reach a utopia of love and freedom.|
|Cosmological Funk. Spicy, Morocco infused disco-funk. “We are one people, all children of the Earth. Come together with our positive musical vibrations…..”. Just dance!|
|Chaka Chouka. The rhythm for this track has its inspiration Rai music from the east of Morocco and Algeria. The lyrics, in French and English express the band’s philosophy about how music is sometimes unnecessarily pigeonholed. Ultimately the only thing that counts is whether it sounds and feels good.|
|Liberation Time. There’s a feeling throughout the world of people waking up and throwing away the shackles and prejudices of the past.|
|Love and Understanding. The rhythm of the track is one of Morocco’s many trance rhythms and both Mouna’s and Haji’s lyrics reflect the spirituality of the “one love” message. It’s what the world needs more of...|
The Chaka Chouka project and their album “Sharka” were never meant to happen. The covid 19 lockdown of 2020 seriously disrupted the lives of everyone on planet Earth but none more so than the musicians and artists who plan their lives months or even years in advance.
Simon Webster and Bernard O’neill have been playing together as a rhythm section for years, have travelled all over the world playing major world music festivals as well as working on the London session and studio scene together.
With weeks of lockdown looming, they decided to put their time and studios to good use.
Based on a drum and percussion loop that Simon had put on hold for a rainy day, he wrote “Gnaoua Reggae” on guitar and melodica in his studio in Meknès, Morocco where he lives with Mouna Eddrou, a French–Moroccan singer. Mouna added her vocals, the Chaka Chouka sound was forged and the project was born.
Simon sent the track to Bernard who lives and works from his studio in the southwest of France.
Bernard added bass and organ and made the crucial connection by sending it on to Cyprus to Haji Mike.
Haji had planned to record an acoustic dub poetry album in Cyprus with Bernard who he had met at Peter Gabriel’s Realworld Studios the previous December, a project now on hold due to the lockdown.
Haji added his vocals to the track and his socially committed and compelling dub poetry texts are complimented perfectly by Mouna’s Sufi inspired lyrics and singing. This vocal combination, thanks to Bernard’s excellent production remains a constant theme through out the album.
Four months later, with hundreds of files pinging back and forth across the Mediterranean, an album was complete.
Morocco is a cultural crossroads where North African Berber culture meets the Middle East, the Sahara, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Chaka Chouka’s music is a reflection of this and also links seamlessly with the African roots, traditional “mento” music and jazz/ R n B influences of reggae. Listening to the album will infuse your senses with a unique blend of flavours from the Carribean, North Africa and the Middle East.
“Sharka” means “share” in Arabic and Chaka Chouka’s music is an expression of their diverse musical roots and a desire for a fairer, more compassionate society.
Even though “Sharka” has lyrics in four different languages, the message is clear.
We are part of a world commune, we can make a difference with respect and love and understanding.
Chaka Chouka are making their own journey, so come join us, on the peace train.
Simon Webster: drums, percussion, guitar, melodica, backing vocals.
Bernard O’neill: bass, organ, keyboards, baritone guitar, backing vocals.
Haji Mike: vocals.
Mouna Eddrou: vocals.