Interview with music group Hoba Hoba Spirit
Casablancan band Hoba Hoba Spirit has seen its fan base constantly grow since its 1998 debut. At its first international appearance in December 2005 in Niamey, Niger, for the Francophone Games, the band won the silver "Song" medal. Guitarist Anouar Zehouani talks to Magharebia.com about the highs and lows of Hoba Hoba.
Magharebia: Who is Hoba Hoba and why the name "Hoba Hoba"?
Hoba Hoba: The five members of Hoba Hoba Spirit are Adil, Anouar, Saâd, Reda, and Mohammed. The word doesn't mean anything. It's just an expression we used for a laugh at the start. We didn't know the band was going to be so famous. You know, at the start, we were just a band playing for private parties. And just for fun, we appeared under the name of Hoba Hoba.
And then things started to take off, the band became very popular, and it was too late to change the name. All our manager Dominique did was to add "Spirit" to make it sound a bit more cool and young. Otherwise, we sometimes tell people Hoba stands for "Haut bas", [French for high low] meaning life has highs and lows.
Magharebia: Does the band have a leader?
Hoba: No one on particular. There's not really a leader, everyone plays a part. Nothing has changed, despite some changes to the personnel in the band. We do the same things we did at the start. The songs are composed by us as a group and as you know, our lyrics are a mix of darija (a Moroccan dialect) and French. The spirit remains the same!
Magharebia: Is five an essential number of band members and what is your message?
Hoba: Not at all. When Hanine left, there were just four of us. Our arms are always open to welcome new members.
Hoba Hoba Spirit talks about the problems eating away at society. We approach them openly and most of all, we approach them with a lot of optimism.
Our songs talk about integration, domestic violence, drugs, illegal immigration, and anything that young people are concerned about. We want young people to look at things differently, with more optimism. We talk about what society talks about and of course with a good vibe.
Magharebia: You talk about problems, but not about love. Why?
Hoba: No, everyone talks about love, but problems are part of life. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy ourselves and talk about our problems without losing our optimism.
Magharebia: What do you do outside the band?
Hoba: I'm a banker and the others range from student to civil servant to unemployed. Unfortunately we can't rely on our art to earn a living. There's only one member of the band who's 100 per cent Hoba Hoba, but it won't be long before he finds some work.
Magharebia: You took the Gnawa festival in Essaouira by storm last year. Will we see you there again?
Hoba: No, we won't be at Essaouira this year. This year we participated in the Mawazine festival in Rabat on 23 May.
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