Answering this from the perspective of Erich Huffaker (guitarist) and Mariam Diakite (lead vocals).

What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.

Mariam: There was music all around me growing up, and I loved it. I actually started singing as a young girl in the Islamic school I was attending. But I grew up in a strict household, and my father was opposed to me making music. I use to have to sneak out at night time to go visit local ceremonies, listen to music in clubs and do whatever. The impression he had was that becoming a musician was not an honorable profession.

Mariam: Erich and I first became friends in Mali, around 2005. He was living there at the time. I was a dancer and would frequent ceremonies and other cultural events to earn money, singing and dancing. I would see Erich around town as he was a drummer. We kept in touch. In 2010, we started playing music together. We recorded demos and started writing music together, culminating in some of the demo recordings you can see in the “O” album on Bandcamp.

We filed papers for me to come to the United States in 2017, and I’ve been here in Oakland, CA since then. Erich and I have recruited the rest of the performers here in the Bay Area, many of whom have spent time in Mali or West Africa.

We continue to perform and record now.

Provide us with some info about your latest release…

Erich: Mariam landed in Oakland, CA in March of 2018. We began assembling a crew of Bay Area musicians to flesh out the music we recorded as demos. Although the music is challenging, things came together very quickly. Five months later, we entered Coyote Hearing Studios in West Oakland to record the first batch of songs. Luke Bace, bass player, engineered the session. He would click record, then run back to his position so he could play. The intention was to create a sound that is grittier, fatter, dirtier and more analog than most others would be willing to go. We wanted you to feel like you stepped into a Bamako music club circa 1976.

Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?

Erich: We love music that has a gritty, analog edge to it. The Malian Orchestras of the 60’s and 70’s are a huge influence. Notably, we love Super Djata Band, Rail Band and Super Biton de Segou. All of the music we love has roots in the OLD musical folklore of Mali. Also, the Bamana music from Segou is top on our list, such as Lobi Traore. We also love American Rock music, like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. Probably our favorite living group is the Budos Band.

o PS for those that haven’t heard this music from Mali before, we put together a playlist of as yet unreleased music that we acquired in Mali : https://soundcloud.com/orchestragold/mali-gold-2

In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?

Erich: Our music is at the cross section Old music from Mali, and American 70’s psychedelic rock. The vibe is undeniably old. Our songs are simple. They tend to be on the longer side. There is a psychedelic vibe as well which has roots in the West African orchestra music of the 70’s. It is dark sounding, and yet also very danceable.

Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…

Mariam: Any horror movies!


Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?

Mariam: I love to perform and connect with people.

Erich: I love recording, and making things sound dirty.

Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?

Erich: So, as I write this it is 2019. And we are in the midst of Trump’s immigration policies. It’s harder than ever to immigrate to the US. And yet, despite all of this, we were somehow able to get Mariam to come here. We feel incredibly blessed that we were able to make that happen.

Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?

Mariam: I like Djama. I want to share a translation of the song with you:

• My people don’t forget to have a good time while you are here
• For those whose presence uplifts all, For those of character,
• For me,
• Clap your hands!

• To each, their own
• To my mother, her upright speech
• To the elders, their wisdom
• To the artists, their truthfulness
• To the farmer, their crops
• My people don’t forget to have a good time while you are here
• For those whose presence uplifts all, For those of character,
• For me,
• Clap your hands!

Erich: Djama swings very heavy. Malian music is often swung in very interesting ways and this is a great example.

Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?

Erich: We plan on releasing two more EPs this year so stay tuned!

Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…

Curated by: Christos Doukakis

Recommended listening:

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BANDCAMP https://orchestragold.bandcamp.com/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKU2o6WzsobIfTX-j3YfvUg

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