Souad Massi began her career performing in the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, before leaving the country following a series of death threats. In 1999, Massi performed at the Femmes d'Algerie concert in Paris, which led to a recording contract with Island Records. Since then she has shown her diversity as a recording artist, while her lyrics have always been consistently poignant and moving. With a return to the UK for a show in London on 19 November, we caught up with Souad to find out more about her latest album, Oumniya.
Hi Souad, how are you doing?
I'm doing well thank you!
You have recently released Oumniya, can you tell us a little about the song...
It’s a powerful song about betrayal, on how you get over it and get your life together. The chorus is a prayer to God to help get through this, and, like many of my songs it reflects a part of my life.
It is the title track of your your sixth studio record how do you think you have changed over the last 20 years?
I think my last studio record echoes my current musical inspiration and feels, it’s like a homecoming. Over 20 years I’ve done folk music, rock, Chaabi music (Algerian popular music) and I think you’ll find all this in my record.
How has each record altered your ambition?
Every record I made reflected my state of mind at that moment. My ambition was to speak my mind, about leaving my country, talk about my struggles, love, many subjects I wanted to talk about in a way that everyone could recognize themselves in my songs. today the difficulties encountered in Algeria worry me so naturally I wrote a song about it (Fi bali). You can hear it in my record.
The industry has changed hugely since Raoui, how do you feel about the current state of the industry?
We don’t consume music the same way than before. today for about 10 pounds a month you can access a huge amount of music directly in your smartphone! It was unimaginable 20 years ago. It has his pros and cons but I think change is good.
Your latest record is rockier than your earlier releases, have your influences changed over the years?
In my opinion, even if sometimes in my records there was no lead guitar or punchy drums, I think rock is a state of mind. I listen to rock everyday. My two daughters and I love Queen, so even if I write a ballad or a traditional chaabi song I think you will get that 'rock' feel in my lyrics.
You are playing london this month what can we expect?
We worked hard with a new team of 4 musicians to create a new show with beautiful lights, nice acoustic rendition of my old songs and you will get to listen of course to my new record on stage!
Lastly what song from the latest album do you most enjoy playing live?
I really like a song named Enta Wana, it’s about an impossible love, this tune is very special to me so i think that's the song I enjoy the most to perform live.