On this episode of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, I’m joined by Franco-Algerian singer-songwriter and guitarist Souad Massi.
Souad began her career fronting the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, earning her a reputation as a troublemaker in an Algeria torn apart by civil war.
After fleeing to Paris following a series of death threats, she performed at the 1999 Femmes d’Algérie to great acclaim, earning her first recording contract.
She has forged her reputation over the course of a career spanning more than 20 years.
Driven by an unfailing determination to speak out for what she values most: freedom and justice.
Her songs are steeped in love, altruism and bravery.
Our Paul Weller connection comes in the 2000’s – with Paul telling Uncut magazine in July 2008: “I’ve recently developed a bit of a thing about tango. I love that music. It’s really emotional, passionate music. And in soundchecks we often mess about with tango and bolero rhythms. Again, Simon ( Dine ) had a backing track and I had a tune in my head and we started jamming on it. The melody is quite influenced by an Algerian singer called Souad Massi, who’s been a huge inspiration recently.”
As you’ll hear on the podcast, this led to the two of them creating music together at Black Barn Studio.
Resulting in a beautiful song called Let Me In Peace which featured as the last track on Souad’s album Ô Houria (Liberty).
Click your preferred podcast platform to listen…
EP133 – Souad Massi, Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Paul Weller Collaboration – Let Me Be In Peace – Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul
In 2002, the French State named her “Knight of The Order of Arts and Letters”, elevating her to the rank of “Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters”in 2017.
In 2005, she became a United Nations Ambassador for micro-credits, to help women in Africa.
Souad Massi released her fourth studio album, “Ô Houria”, in 2010, produced by the French signer Francis Cabrel. The album closer features her collaboration with Paul Weller…
Many songs on this album are in French. The reason for this, she explained, was that she wanted to thank her fans who do not speak Arabic.
Souad Massi – Paul Weller – Let Me Be In Peace (One Track Version)
Speaking to Reuters Life in February 2008, Souad said “Paul [ Weller ] is someone very spontaneous and I like that. He told me he discovered my albums and he said he adored one of my songs – “Ghir Enta” (“I only love you”) – and he made a version of it, which is magnificent…It made me happy to meet a legend like him who is so nice, who has such a drive to make music. Yesterday, we worked until three in the morning. We were tired but he didn’t want to leave the studio. He had an idea and he wanted to follow it to the end.”
Check out Paul’s song One Bright Star from 22 Dreams and Souad’s Ghir Enta below…
Souad Massi – Sequana (2022)
Souad Massi takes her musical roots from wide-ranging and diverse styles. Her tenth album Sequana draws on folk, country, rock, calypso, bossa, and sounds of the Middle East and the Algerian desert. Souad has completely renewed her musical team, opening a new chapter in a career that began in the 1990’s and was marked by her departure from Algeria for France. With Justin Adams (Rachid Taha, Tinariwen, Robert Plant…) on production, accompanied on some tracks by the likes of Piers Faccini and Naïssam Jalal, Souad Massi continues on her path as a committed, liberated woman. She is a woman of her time, who sings like never before about the causes close to her heart.
You can buy the album here.
Massi has rarely sounded so lyrical: her voice, pure and unaffected, speaks to the soul. Her concert at the Barbican in London on October 29 promises to be one of the shows of the year” 5 stars THE TIMES
“She is in outstanding form here, with strong songs that recall her early work and a gifted producer, Justin Adams..to bring them into varied life” 4 stars THE OBSERVER
“most striking of all though is the deathless version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”: over the insistent beat of a frame drum she sings Trent Reznor’s lyric in Arabic with a visceral emotion to rival Johnny Cash’s famous interpretation” UNCUT
“..she has surpassed herself with ‘Sequana’, which from first to last sounds like a career landmark” SONGLINES
“..her most eclectic and adventurous set to date and for that producer Justin Adams must surely take some of the credit..” SONGLINES
“Lyrical beauty and the emotional immediacy of Piaf…a wonderful confluence.” BBC RADIO 3 (Sean Rafferty)
“Throughout, the album is poetic” R’N’R MAGAZINE
“The addition of the production chops of the brilliant and prodigious Justin Adams is inspired” R’N’R MAGAZINE