Tinariwen Talk the Making of 'Emmaar' and Their Canadian Visa Troubles

Tinariwen Talk the Making of 'Emmaar' and Their Canadian Visa Troubles
Earlier this month, Tishoumaren blues group Tinariwen released their Exclaim!-approved sixth LP, Emmaar, on Anti- Records, but while Canuck fans can enjoy the record, they won't get a chance to see the veteran musicians live, as the band ran into bad luck when it came to securing some Canadian visas.

"We were supposed to play shows, but we've been refused the visas," explains Tinariwen bassist Eyadou Ag Leche to Exclaim! through a translator. "We never had any further explanations, and no one knows if we could get another chance to come. It is sad, we want to meet again Canadians and many Canadians ask for it."

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, geography has played a substantial role for the collective of Touareg nomadic musicians, who hail from the Sahara region of Mali. Emmaar, the follow-up to the Grammy Award-winning album Tassili, was recorded in the California desert Joshua Tree.

Explains Ag Leche: "Our Sahara was not secured for our crew, and choosing a desert was a natural choice for us. Since the early '60s and the new borders, the political situation for our people has never been safe to live in peace, we have been facing long periods of exile."

Recording an album away from their homes of Mali and Algeria was a new experience for the group, but Ag Leche says that the desert motif was "a help for feeling good, thanks to the landscapes and the freedom feelings."

Tinariwen's California headquarters allowed the group to work with a number of high-profile guest musicians, including Saul Williams, Matt Sweeney of Chavez and Josh Klinghoffer of Red Hot Chili Peppers, an experience on which Ag Leche looks fondly back. "We invited them as we met them on tour. It is always a pleasure to meet other musicians, sharing experience and music feelings and watching them getting into our music."

Tinariwen are out on their Canada-less tour now. Find the dates here and watch the group's video for "Toumast Tincha," featuring Josh Klinghoffer, below.