Setting aside modesty, we are absolutely thrilled about our Musical Road to Womex section. Because it consistently gives us the pleasure of showcasing musicians and bands who defy genres, traverse musical styles, and transcend geographical borders.
Today, we embark on a musical journey all the way to Reunion Island, where we discover a quartet that epitomises this spirit. They not only celebrate and bring forward the most authentic and traditional Reunionese maloya music, but also delve into its deepest, underground and experimental expressions.
Mouvman Alé, a quartet led by Franswa Virassamy-Macé, crafts a unique blend of music they describe as “romans non-galizé rényoné” – unpolished/experimental songs from Reunion. Their hypnotic sound weaves together psychedelic rock, pop, traditional Reunionese rhythms, and electronics.
Founded by Franswa in 2016, the band’s line-up solidified in 2018, comprising BenjaminReboll (electronics, keys, vocals), BaptisteClément (guitar, bass, vocals), and Loïc Médoc-Elma (percussion, vocals). Their music captures the vibrant energy of Reunion’s daily life, influenced by Indian Hindu drumming, hard-rock, metal, and the hypnotic loops of maloya.
Could you briefly introduce your music to someone new at Womex and share the key influences and origins of your unique sound?
The music that is played in Mouvman Alé, I call it the “Romans Non-galizé”. “Romans” can mean a story and “non-galizé” can be understood as a path that is not paved but rather full of obstacles. The idea is to present and experience my vision of the artistic power of Réunion’s hybrid culture.
There are so many different possible visions.
Thanks to the participation of other musicians, Mouvman Alé is also a collective project that helps to spread a group energy.
Could you share a personal anecdote or experience that significantly impacted your musical journey and the evolution of your sound?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been very sensitive to the drums of Malbar processions (Malbars are people of Tamil origin in Reunion Island). I’m part Malbar. The essence of Réunionese culture is being mixed. And from my first trips outside the island, I understood that any type of music could give me the sensation of experiencing a state of enormous vibration and great connection.
Living in London in 2000, I was positively blown away by a concert by AmjadAliKhan on the sarod and ZakirHussain on the tabla; at this time I embraced the formula of long tracks; and at the same time, still in London, I literally took off thanks to the electro music offered by TalvinSingh and his album OK.
In a world full of diverse musical genres, styles, and traditions, how do you believe your music stands out and brings something fresh and exciting to the audience’s ears?
I feel closer and closer to people and their emotions. And Mouvman Alé’s music is a space where certain people, including the members of the group, can experience a wide range of emotions.
As Womex is not only a Worldwide Music Expo but also a lively global music funfair, are there any showcases you’re looking forward to attending and enjoying or artists participating that you would like to meet during those five days?
I was delighted to discover many of the artists selected for this edition of Womex 2023. And if I could attend all these performances, I’d be very happy: ElshanGhasini, Cocanha, Haepaary , Julia Kozakova & Manusa, Pekodjinn, Kutu, UstadNoorBakhsh, FlorenceAdoomi, The breath, Widad Mjama & Khalil epi.
I also think there are plenty of other artists I might like.
This edition of Womex will take place in A Coruña. Have you ever been there, and is there anything specific you’re looking forward to doing, visiting, eating, and/or drinking in the Spanish city?
Having lived in Spain, I’m kind of in a hurry to experience again the Spanish way of life and I’m very happy at the idea of meeting humanity wherever it is. And of course, the whole band is delighted to be sharing new experiences together in this city.
Womex is a unique opportunity to share and showcase your music with new people and inform them about your upcoming projects. Could you reveal some of your plans for the future?
This year’s event is a recording of a massive traditional version of our best-known song “sokouyé marmay”. There will be fifty of us performing it, using only traditional instruments. We regularly take great pleasure in playing our music without saturation and electronics. And we’re delighted to be presenting this version just after the KEXP version.
Next year is a great year because we’re going to be releasing a new video called Lorizon trankil. It’s a celebration of all the positive moments I’ve had in my childhood neighbourhood of Saint Gilles les Hauts. And it’s also for anyone who wants to remember the good times in their neighbourhood.
Also in 2024, we’re presenting our very first live album, with tracks from our recent tours. It’s going to be great!
If you had to draft an invitation card for our readers to join you at Womex and enjoy your showcase, what would you write in it?
“La pa bézwin in ta domoun po fé in mouvman!
I say this phrase in Reunionese Creole at every Mouvman Alé concert. It’s an expression that invites us to vibrate intensely when we embark on a project, whether you’re one person, a few people or a lot of people!
Sometimes we play in front of a lot of people, sometimes in front of very few, and that’s what I think is so important!