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Issa Bagayogo


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Issa Bagayogo has been nicknamed Techno-Issa in his home country of Mali and, as his fame spreads, in other parts of the world too. Techno music is in stark contrast to Issa’s rural background 30 miles from the nearest town in southern Mali. While working on the family farm he started singing and played traditional instruments: a bell called the daro and also a six-stringed harp called kamele n’goni (the three-stringed n’goni is more of a spiritual instrument, so Issa plays the six-stringed one that is better for secular music).

After becoming well known locally, Issa decided to go to the capital, Bamako in 1991. There he got the chance to use his skills at playing kamele n’goni in a studio belonging to two Frenchmen and the result was a cassette. Bagayogo went back to his family home after only three months. Two years later he returned to Bamako, recorded another cassette and became an apprentice bus driver. The cassettes brought in no money and Issa became depressed, turned to drink and his wife left him. After a while Issa returned to his music and at a studio he met Yves Wernert, a French engineer, and guitarist Moussa Kone. They began mixing traditional music with techno drum programming, something quite new to Issa. The result became known as Afro-techno and it certainly did the trick because their first CD, Sya, released in 1998, was a huge success in Mali.


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