Austin Psych Fest Interview: Vieux Farka Touré

Legacy blues scion talks Malian music and Khruangbin collaboration


Vieux Farka Touré (photo by Kiss Diouara)

Mali blues scion Vieux Farka Touré bridged worlds when he collaborated with Houston mystics Khruangbin on a full-length tribute to the guitarist's late father, shredder Ali Farka Touré. Like Les Racines, Vieux's first release of 2022, Ali stills and stings: drone, nuance, metaphysics.  – Raoul Hernandez

Austin Chronicle: How did the Khruangbin collaboration come about?

Vieux Farka Touré: Really naturally. My manager Eric Herman suggested recording Ali's songs with an American band and he suggested Khruangbin first. I was able to see them perform in London and talk about the album. Then we scheduled studio time in Houston and got to work. They're really genuine people that care a lot about music.

AC: Given your experience here, how are Texas and Mali similar/dissimilar?

VFT: The environment: lots of sun and open spaces. Texans are friendly, straightforward people, which I like a lot. Music is an important part of life in Mali and in Texas, though Mali doesn't have the technology and infrastructure of Texas.

AC: Les Racines resonates physically, palpably. What goals did you set for it?

VFT: My previous albums had a lot of influences and this time I wanted to make a truly traditional Malian album. I started writing before COVID, [but] began recording right at the start of the pandemic, so everything was recorded at my home studio in Bamako. Usually I wouldn't have so much time to work on the arrangements and experiment, but because I was home and not touring, I spent a lot of time on Les Racines. I'm really happy with how it came out.

AC: What did the guitar give mankind?

VFT: It's amazing to see all the different ways people play it. I use the guitar to help the people of Mali be together as one. Just like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and B.B. King used their guitars to tell their stories.

AC: They call Austin the live music capital of the world, but you've seen the world. What are the best music cities and why?

VFT: That's a tough question! London has some amazing venues and musicians. Every town or city in Mali is a great music city because music is such an important part of life here. I recently toured in India and had amazing audiences there, so I'll put Mumbai on my list. New Orleans has a lot of talented musicians and history. Austin is definitely a great music city!


Vieux Farka Touré plays Austin Psych Fest at the Far Out Lounge on Sunday, April 30, at 4:20pm.

Austin Psych Fest – launched in 2008 by the local festival- and vinyl-presenting team that evolved to become Levitation in 2015 – makes a notable springtime comeback April 28-30. Held for the first time at South Austin's spacious Far Out Lounge, headliners include Toro y Moi, Melody's Echo Chamber, Cuco, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Yves Tumor, and event co-founders the Black Angels playing 2008 breakout Directions to See a Ghost. The festival released more tickets yesterday, freeing up both daily ($88) and weekend ($223) passes at levitation.fm.


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Austin Psych Fest 2023, Vieux Farka Toure, Khruangbin, Ali Farka Toure , Austin Psych Fest

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