Schedule as of Oct 11, 2022 - subject to change

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Wednesday, October 19 • 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan Meets Masters of Western African Sound

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Burkinabe sound engineer Éliézer Oubda is a legend in Western Africa. Recently FAMA-awarded (Burkina Faso Music Award), he has produced number of albums and toured as FOH engineer with all music stars of the sub-region from Toumani Diabaté and Oumou Sangaré through to Vieux Farka Touré and Salif Keïta. Nevertheless, you have probably never heard about him. While it is common to hear an AES member praising the talent of African musicians, the contribution of African studio professionals to these musicians’ career has received scant attention in our community. To challenge this status quo, French-Canadian sound engineer Amandine Pras will facilitate a panel with American producer Ian Brennan who won the Grammy Award for Best Global Music Album in 2011 (and has been nominated three other times, including for the Zomba Prison Project), Oubda, and Ivorian-French beatmaker Patrick Arnaud Koffi, also known as Tupaï N’Gouin Claih.

During the workshop, you will have the opportunity to appreciate the talent and expertise of these three masters of sound through listening to their work and hearing them talk about their studio practice, artistic vision, and political perspective. In his book Silenced by Sound: The Music Meritocracy Myth (2019), Brennan stated, “There are millions upon millions of talented people around the world. And you will never hear any of them. Many are far more gifted than the superstars that billions of dollars are depleted promoting the delusion that these lone wolfs have been blessed with genius far exceeding the common man”. This quote will bring us to reflect upon the positive and negative roles that the global music industry has played in the South. We will also discuss how more South-North exchanges could enrich audio education and reduce inequalities in our field.

When Oubda opened his first studio in Bamako (Mali) after producing music at home while studying for a combined science degree, he recorded cantatrice Babani Koné for an album to be mixed by French sound engineer Yves Werner at Bogolan, a renowned studio where established international and local artists have recorded, including Bjork. Oubda became resident engineer of Bogolan in 2006 up to 2011, which gave him the opportunity to learn from observing the practice of foreign studio professionals such as French Jean Lamoot and American Jerry Boys. Also, producing Cheick Tidiane Seck’s Sory Bamba for Universal brought Oubda to start touring as FOH engineer outside of the continent.

N’Gouin Claih started in the music industry as a rapper. With the band Main Frame that he founded in 1992, he recorded a few tracks that quickly received the attention of renowned Ivorian producer François Konian, who proposed taking the young band to the USA to record an album with Stevie Wonder. However, his parents prevented him from pursuing a music career, they sent him to Dakar to finish high school, and then to France to study law and insurance. There, he learnt from peers, magazines, forums, and a workshop how to produce music in his home studio with emerging artists of his generation including musicians from the Ivorian diaspora and rapper Booba.

Brennan was born in Oakland, CA. Since 1987, he has pursued a multidisciplinary career as a music producer and engineer, live-show promoter, charity founder, and author of seven books and has had articles published by NPR, Tape Op, Sound on Sound, Chicago Tribune, and The Guardian. Since 2010, he has produced over forty records by international artists across five continents which have resulted in the first widely-released original music, regional language albums from many nations, among them Rwanda, Malawi, Kosovo, Tanzania, South Sudan, Romania, Comoros, and Vietnam. Also, his projects have resulted in over twenty international artists travelling outside of their respective nations for the first time in their lifetime, many of them as elders.

Pras has used her music production degree from the Paris Conservatoire as a passport. After attending the recording engineer practicum at the Banff Centre, she freelanced in Montreal and then New York. During a visit in Kolkata, India in 2013, a musician friend took her to a mastering session where the engineer did not challenge her technical expertise. He even took for granted that she knew more than him what she was doing. This experience made her understand what her studio career could have been in the West if she were a white man. It inspired her to deeply engage in research and education activities that contribute to overcome the social biases of audio meritocracy.

avatar for Amandine Pras

Amandine Pras

Lecturer in Sound Recording and Music Production, University of York
Amandine Pras is leading the Master of Art in Music Production and Audio Cultures at the School of Art and Creative Technologies of the University of York, UK. With a background as a sound engineer and music producer in alternative jazz and contemporary musics, she develops funded... Read More →

avatar for Ian Brennan

Ian Brennan

Ian Brennan is Grammy-winning producer (Tinariwen) who has produced three other Grammy-nominated albums (Zomba Prison Project, Peter Case, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott) and published seven books while also teaching violence prevention around the world since 1993 for such prestigious organizations... Read More →
avatar for Tupaï N'Gouin-Claigh

Tupaï N'Gouin-Claigh

Victory B Studio
Patrick Arnaud Koffi N’Gouin Claih, also known as Tupaï, grew up in Abidjan (Ivory Coast). He started in the music industry in the early 1990s as a rapper. A few years later in France, he opened his first home studio to record musicians from the Ivorian diaspora, as well as French... Read More →

Wednesday October 19, 2022 4:00pm - 5:00pm EDT