Racial slurs didn’t deter these guys; instead, they offered inspiration to their music and lyrics. Born out of members’ exile in France, North African-French rai rock-reggae band, Les Boukakes are multicultural in every sense. With a line-up that boasts of three nationalities, the band transcends borders, singing in Arabic and French over heavy reggae grooves. The band name, Boukakes, itself is a phonetic mixture of two typical racial abuses common in France.
“Our band brings together the Orient and the Occident and shows that the union can be happy. The adventure of Les Boukakes has been shared with about 20 musicians and singers coming from all over the Mediterranean,” says Vincent Albert, band representative.
The founders of Les Boukakes include Thierry Chadelle (guitar and mandole) from Corsica, Pascal Bonnafous (drums, gembri) from France with parents born in Algeria and Laurent Durafourd (bass) from Paris along with Eric Manchon and Selim Maziz who are originally from Algeria.
The band skillfully blends rai, Algerian folk music that makes use of traditional percussion instruments like the darbouka and djembi, with heavy rock riffs and grooves. The lyrics of their upbeat, trippy songs speak of resistance to bias and racism without making any overt comments.
From performing at streets of Paris to some of the most respected music festivals in the world such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the band maintains that they shall continue to produce music that is influenced by eclectic styles “We are very happy and grateful to have grown so much. Through our mixed style of music, we want to communicate the idea that music can overcome human borders,” says Albert.
The band is currently working on their next album, which Albert says, “will incorporate new instruments and a more electronic sound, without straying away from our signature style which we are known for”. Having performed in India before, the band is looking forward to their sixth concert tonight at the Blue Frog. “Our concerts in India have been incredible. The audience here is terrific!” signs off Albert.