Watch founder Hatim Belyamani bring our journey to life at the 2016 Amsterdam WDCD conference.
Field Recording & Film Shoots
The journey began in March 2012, during which the first field recording trips were undertaken by Hatim in Morocco. At the crossroads of continents, bodies of water, various civilizations and trade routes throughout history, Morocco has evolved as a true melting pot of musical forms and sensibilities. And while Gnawa music has recently gained worldwide appreciation, there are countless other musical traditions that remain largely unknown (even within Morocco’s borders). remix ←→ culture not only celebrates and shines a spotlight on these traditions, such as Taqtouqa El Jabaliya, Ahwach, or Amazigh Music of the RwaYes, but also invites them into the world of electronic music and video art.
After returning to his then-home-base in San Francisco, Hatim spent 2013 recruiting new talent to the collective, and developing their recording, filming, and remixing approach. These efforts culminated in the first concert which joined traditional musicians with their remixers in the same space.
By the spring of 2014, the collective was ready to cross the Atlantic again to apply what they had learned in San Francisco back to Morocco. They recorded and filmed musicians in Agdz, Tamegroute, Mhamid El Ghizlane and Wintimdouine. Each of these shoots revealed majestic landscapes of breathtaking beauty, such as the mountaintops of Wintimdouine overseeing Paradise Valley. The videos were shot and recorded with multiple microphones and cameras and later mixed, mastered, edited with a unique approach to celebrating these master musicians in full HD glory:
In March 2015, when the collective had finished mixing, mastering, and producing the 30+ songs / videos, they returned to Khenifra, Chefchaouen, Inezgane, Agdz, and Tamegroute to hand-deliver CDs and DVDs to the traditional musicians, as well as showthem how their videos had been remixed, and invite them to make their own live video remixes using EL MAC-INA.
In February 2016, the collective met in Brazil, where they recorded and filmed Coco Trupé, Maracatu Estrela de Ouro Condado, and Cavalo Marinho Estrela Brilhante.
In June 2016, another opportunity in Beijing, China allowed them to record and film Suya, a virtuoso traditional Sihu performer from Inner Mongolia.
In May 2017, they recorded and filmed The River Voices, an all-female polyphonic choir ensemble from the Albanian mountain town of Corovode.
El Mac-ina (which translates to “the machine”) is a video remixing platform which Hatim Belyamani designed to allow any user, regardless of technical or musical proficiency, to create audio-visual remixes by pressing buttons and moving knobs and faders. All of the sounds and images contained therein are derived from traditional music recordings and footage capturedduring the collective’s trips. EL MAC-INA has been programmed to automatically synchronize all of its loops, even as the user changes the overall tempo, and applies effects, thus making it easy for the user to have fun and create something unique.
This platform has evolved over the course of the past three years. It has been featured as an interactive installation at festivals and venues in San Francisco, Northern California, and in Casablanca in February 2015, where passersby were invited to use EL MAC-INA to make their own video remixes in this busy downtown outdoor public space
El Mac-ina (in its various forms) has been presented to the public as an interactive installation in the US and Morocco:
- July 2012 - Interactive installation during the three-day festival Priceless (Belden, California)
- April 24th, 2013 - Interactive installation at Café Du Nord during an event organized by “The Nile Project” (San Francisco, California)
- Oct, 2013 - Interactive installation at Oakland’s monthly street fair, First Friday’s (Oakland, California)
- February 27th, 2015 - Interactive installation / participatory street performance with EL MAC-INA at Place des Nations Unies (Casablanca, Morocco)
- February 12th, 2017 - interactive installation for students age 4-11 during Packer Collegiate's Celebrate Morocco Day. (Brooklyn, USA)
- April 22nd, 2017 - interactive installation for students age 14-19 at Carnegie Hall's Studio 57. (NYC, USA)