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Senegalese Musician: I am Marwane

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by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (subscribe)
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Published June 5th 2015
I am Marwane, new single: Ruthless Love
I am Marwane
I am Marwane

Hailing from Senegal, multi-instrumentalist and musician I am Marwane (Habib Marwane), has released his first single 'Ruthless Love'. A long time in the making, it is a heartfelt expression of almost a decade's worth of work.

A self-taught piano player, I am Marwane fuses Hip Hop and RnB beats to drive more of the evocative elements these genres are well known for. While many Australian artists juggle full-time work and a music career, I am Marwane is no different. While the music scene is rich in Senegal, it doesn't always mean a living can be derived from it.

It's the experience and chance to create empowering tunes that drives this young musician to be daring. Transporting listeners to new melodic heights and sounds is part of the journey.

Can you please tell me more about the song 'Ruthless Love'; I believe it was released earlier this year. What is the song about and why did you decide to release it as a free download? It is hauntingly beautiful.

Thank you so much, I really appreciate and value your compliment.

Ruthless Love' has been released on January this year but it is a song that I created when I was in high school in 2004.

At that time I was using an old computer and music software, which slowly run on it (laughs). I think this period was my most creative one. I spent many sleepless nights composing music whereas I had to go to school the next day. But I somehow managed to get good grades.

The song is about a woman who feels her relationship is failing because her husband has lost interest in her. So she expresses her sadness hoping to bring him back. She does not really want the relationship to end but she will ultimately leave if there is no change from the husband. To be honest, the lyrics have been written years after the instrumental.

Originally, it is a soulful R&B ballad close to what we used to hear in what I call the golden era of R&B, the 90's. Slow rhythm, piano and violin merged to get you shivers.

Remember 'When you Believe' by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey? That song could give me shivers back in the day! And I still listen to it because it is timeless.

So I decided to release 'Ruthless Love' almost ten years after because I was not totally satisfied with the song. I felt I could make it sound better. So I spent those 10 years editing it.
I finally released an acoustic version of the song earlier this year to introduce myself to the world and see how people would react when listening to it.

I did not want to make people pay because the idea is to get fans who really like my work. If people like what you do, they are more inclined to pay for it. However, I plan to release the full R&B song later this year.

I can see that you are based in Dakar, Senegal – what is the music scene like there (for Australian audiences that may not know)?

I read your genre is Hip Hop and R&B, this article came out in The Guardian and it seems there is a bit of a spotlight for Senegal music-wise?

Well the music scene in Senegal is mainly dominated by one music genre called Mbalax. This is the local popular music, which is now evolving from the simple use of African instruments to mixes with modern instruments. Mbalax artists are way more popular here than Hip Hop artists and are more likely to earn their living doing music.

The article you refer to correctly depicts the Hip Hop scene in Senegal. But to be honest, the music industry is embryonic and not well structured. Artists cannot sell many records because not too many people are buying records. People think about eating first.

So the only way for Senegalese artists to make a little bit of money is through stage performances and tours outside the country. And Mbalax artists are more successful than Hip-hop artists in this field. However, the Hip Hop music here is very good. For me, Senegal is the 3rd Hip-hop country after the U.S. and Europe.

What are you working on at the moment and what is the idea behind Create Emotions Music Recordings?

Currently I have put music on hold because I can't really find time for it. I have a full time job in the financial industry, which does not allow me to keep a good work-life balance.
But I plan to release a full version of 'Ruthless Love' maybe at the end of this year, and I am also thinking of releasing an EP. I have a lot of songs in my old computer that I want to share with people (laughs). But I seriously think of an album mixing Hip Hop and African Rhythms with other genres.

This is a long-term project for me. Let's see how it goes.
Create Emotions Music Recordings is my label. I always thought that the real deal was to get signed by a Major Label, be famous and make a lot of money. But as I grow up, I'm seeing things differently.

Major labels are notorious for changing artists and making their music more commercial. Which is normal, it's a business so they need to make profits. I don't really want to be put in a box and do what others command me to do. I want to be free to do music the way I want. And what I strive to do is composing music which is essentially emotional.

If a song gets you melancholic, it created that emotion. If a song makes you dance and be happy, it created that emotion too. I want to create as much emotion as I can. That's why I called my label Create Emotions.

For now, I am trying to license my song to film and TV companies, Ad agencies, and collaborate with people in the music industry worldwide. The next step will probably be to sign some artists.

You mentioned music is becoming more commercial and losing its emotional impact, how are you going to bridge that divide?

Tough one! (laughs)

See, EDM has been recently introduced in the US. Europe was doing EDM since ages and it somehow influenced the US music industry. Today, every single song that people label 'Pop' music is EDM in reality. I want to influence the US music the same way.

I am Marwane
I am Marwane

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