Interview: Q&A w/ Dom Peter – Blanc Manioc (December 2019)

The last mix of the year (compiled for us by La Dame aka DJ Carie) was also a unique opportunity to introduce you to a thrilling new label, born between Lyon and Bamako little more than six months ago.

We’re talking about Blanc Manioc, the new project by Dom Peter, which goes beyond the music label borders, being also a collective of musicians, DJs and producers “that celebrates the current wave of electronic artists and music coming out of the Malian capital Bamako”.

Their latest release (Nyamakala Beats #1) is a compilation exposing the underground scene thriving in Bamako, so we reached Dom to find out more about one of the best newcomers of 2019.

In a few words, how would you introduce Blanc Manioc and its catalogue to a new listener?

Afriq electroniq! Born in Bamako, Mali, and raised in Lyon, France, it’s all about the new scene of electronic African music, with artists from Abidjan (CI), Bamako (ML), Jo’burg (ZA), St Leu (RUN), Lyon (Fr) for now.

Despite being based in Lyon, Blanc Manioc’s focus is placed on West and Central African music scenes. How did the project start, and what brought you to concentrate your attention on those areas?

Mali, and especially Bamako, is my second country – in French “my heart’s country”. Manjul is my cousin, and he’s lived in Bamako for fifteen years now. I visited him in 2010 and fell in love with Mali. I met Djely (griot) as Madou “Sidiki” Diabaté (brother of Toumani), Assaba Dramé, and the unique singer Fatim Kouyaté. We started a band called Midnight Ravers in 2012, and in 2015, I discovered the other music of Bamako. I met two unbelievable guys: Mc Waraba & Meleke Tchatcho. I worked with them as a producer, and then, after two albums and a lot of international and African tours, I decided to start Blanc Manioc.

There are quite a few independent labels supporting and exposing what’s going on in those countries. What makes Blanc Manioc different from the other players?

Blanc Manioc is a family. No business plan. We are friends, we believe in our music, and we would like to share it as much as possible. We do parties, street art, free performances, and actually a European tour and a festival in Abidjan for 2020!

Praktika lived in Africa for five years, Seb Rieussec was in Bamako for fifteen years etc.

Praktika worked a lot with a number of traditional musicians, and for me, he doesn’t do Afro-house or African techno… he does his own music. This is not a fusion; it’s a new language for me.   

When it comes to other music labels and professionals, do you have any role models? Is there anyone in particular who inspired your project and the path you’re following?

Principe in Lisbon, and Hard Fist in Lyon. Principe, because I think they create a new music: Afro, and rave. So rave. The new Afroclub for me. Hard Fist, because everything is perfect ahaha. Artwork, sound, parties… they do it well! 😉

Is there a musician/band/DJ you would love to work with in the future?

Yes, but it’s confirmed for the next year: Asna from Abidjan, an ultra-creative producer and graphic design artist, Aero Manyelo from Johannesburg (Batuk with Spoek Mathambo) with his new project called Shujaa Bora, and Afriq2000, a mysterious project lost in the Indian ocean. And Praktika, of course…

What should we expect from Blanc Manioc in the next few months and years? What are your projects for the future?

A festival in Abidjan from 6th to 10th February 2020, a big party in Lyon with La Sunday, Kamayakoi (Abidjan) with Arty Farty (Nuits Sonores), a lot of releases, and we will be starting work on the new album of Midnight Ravers.

Praktika will do a lot too; parties in Paris with Soudoreille, an album and an African tour. Fifteen countries for now.

Your latest release is a compilation unearthing the Bamako electronic scene. What can you tell us about the scene, and how did you discover/get in touch with the artists you worked with?

There are a lot of releases from Mc Waraba & Meleke Tchatcho and their young producer, Gaspa. I asked to remix with Aero, PANGAR, Hard Fist, Limbololo Sound System, Les Frères Jackfruit, and there’s an original tune from Praktika and Midnight Ravers; Afriq2000 too!

Back home, how do you find playing and distributing the music you recorded in Mali? Is the French audience receptive? What are the main obstacles that you found in spreading it?

Work, and work, and work too. Ahahaha. We deal with Universal Africa for distribution, because Bandcamp is not available in Mali. There is no access to Paypal. And we are on all platforms – especially new African platforms.

What does it mean to run a music label today?

Passion, utopia, an African music trip, African food! 😉

Apart from the Blanc Manioc ones… Is there any other album (released in 2019) that you listened to so much that you wore it out? What are your best three tracks and/or albums of the year?

Baloji, Baloji, Baloji – music, videos, style!