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Iness Mezel

CD Release : Iness Mezel 'Beyond the Trance'

By Matthieu Boisseau

Seven years after her previous album ‘Len’ and thirteen since her debut ‘Wefel’, Iness Mezel's latest album ‘Beyond the Trance’ is now yours to own. This ambitious blend of North African ‘Berber’ music with funk, soul and jazz has been a long time coming but as the artist says : 'I always take my time to compose, especially because this time I wanted the album to be a sort of trance in which everything can happen. And this everything is the marriage between musics from all over the world'. Indeed, nobody  embodies the concept of world music better than Fatiha Messaoudi aka Iness Mezel. She was born to a Franco-Italian mother and an Algerian-Kabyle father, and then lived in the working class suburb of St Ouen in Paris before moving to Algeria when she was 7. It gives her plenty of musical influences and the result is a multicultural, unique and polymorphic album, 'just like what contemporary France is' she said.


Thus, Iness Mezel juggles with French and Kabyle languages. 'I love the musicality of Kabyle but I don’t master the language in a poetic sense of the term', she says. 'So I write in French, and then translate that into Kabyle and base my lyrics on that translation. I used to freak out about the idea of singing in French because I feel completely naked when I do. But singing in French is also a way of expressing all aspects of my personality. It allows me to be more objective, and obviously it is easier'.


Accompanied by much-praised English guitarist Justin Adams, Iness Mezel gives a breath of fresh air to traditional Berber music while proclaiming her Kabyle roots. 'I’ve used poems by Si Mohand ou Mohand, a famous wandering 19th century Kabyle poet, in some of the songs. I wanted to pay tribute to him and to a greater extent to Kabyle culture'. To her mind, music is a way to make Maghrebi culture recognized on a larger scale not only through raï. 'Singing in Kabyle is a sort of involvement, because people who speak this language in Algeria are still victims of discrimination'. So, in many ways, ‘Beyond the Trance’ is a reaffirmation of her identity or, as she puts it 'a rediscovery of the whole me: French, Kabyle, Parisian, everything'.


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