Songhoy Blues release video for jubilant, fuzzed-up single Badala

Songhoy Blues
(Image credit: Transgressive Records)

Desert blues band Songhoy Blues have released a video for Badala, the opening track from the band's critically-acclaimed third album Optimisme

"Badala is a video that we have dedicated to the freedom and validation of the young," says guitarist Garba Touré. "We encourage you to watch the video and share your experiences of freedom and validation in 2020 to inspire others."

The video was shot on location in Bamako, Mali and features the band playing live alongside local dancers and models, while a local motorcycle gang – Motards Team Bamako – also put in an appearance.

As is often the case with Songhoy Blues, the jubilant, fuzzed-up Badala (which apparently means 'we don’t give a fuck'' in Songhay) is at odds with the grim backdrop against which the band formed, the 2012 civil conflict in Northern Mali. 

The band members fled south to Mali's capital of Bamako when three Islamist groups imposed Sharia law in the region. Locals were whipped if caught smoking or drinking alcohol, adulterers stoned, and thieves could have their hands cut off if found guilty. 

Last year London's Imperial War Museum featured the band as part of their Rebel Sounds exhibition, which featured different examples of music being used to resist and rebel against war and oppression. 

"‘When the tribal war started, when the political situation got rough and got worse and worse, and the jihadist guys took over the north of the country… no one could play any music," singer Aliou Touré told the museum. "They banned music, they banned sport, they banned clubs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, nothing, nothing absolutely. So everyone from that moment from the North had to move to the south, just to be safe."

"As long as we have music left in us and something to say, we’ll keep fighting each day with music as our weapon, our songs as our resistance".

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.