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Exclusive interview: Bilal is back, ready to ‘really make a difference’
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Exclusive interview: Bilal is back, ready to ‘really make a difference’

American-born producer, Bilal Samadhi is in the country and he is already busy working on new projects with Gambian artists. Read our interview with him; 

What’s On -Gambia: Who is Bilal? 

Bilal? Even H.E. the President and almost every Gambian who knows or sees my brother Hakim, asks him "where is your brother?" That’s me, Bilal. We are Suns of Light, known in the Gambia for writing and producing music. 

Are you back to stay longer in the Gambia? 

Yes, I love Gambia. I feel like this is my first home and America my second. 

Tell us about your new recording studio, Sunland Music –B? 

Sunland B is just a name that shows you "Bilal produced this." 

What is distinctive about a Sunland Music –B production? 

It’s kind of hard to say because so much of my input has been in Sunland's music throughout the years, for instance, I composed Mariam's hit song Yo La Buga as well as Our Love. I co-produced and added melodies to all the early music Sunland produced in the Gambia including We Must Rebel, I also helped compose all the early music Sunland produced for Viviane Ndour, so I’ve been in the mix all along. 

I would say that the twist that I add is soulful R&B melodies as well as rich harmonies. I’m also experimenting with Gambian artists, stretching into different musical genres in order to further the reach of the music to an international audience. 

How long have you been creating music? 

I have been creating music since I can remember. My brothers and I had a group called The Boys, we were signed to Motown Records when I was eight years old and I wrote a song for our first album, though even before that I was watching and studying my brothers as they composed rhythms and melodies, as the youngest of four talented brothers I learned a lot early on. 

What was the first beat you ever made? 

If I remember correctly I made my first beat when I was around seven years old. I got an Alesis drum machine for my birthday and Hak taught me how to use it. 

Your brother, Hakim has worked with so many amazing names in the music industry, how do you intend to go about getting established and catching the attention of the big names in the sub region? 

All I can do is keep putting my best effort into every tune I drop and insha'Allah I will receive all the success due to me, also I have been and will always be a powerful secret weapon behind Sunland's hits. 

Which Senegambian artists have you been listening to? 

Viviane, Youssou Ndour, Coumba Gawlo and Thione Secka 

According to information reaching us, you’re working on a new compilation – can you tell us more about that? 

I’m producing a compilation full of love songs of different musical genres performed by many Gambian artists like Gee, E Nyassi , Diha , Benjamin , Cess , ENC, Mariam - also up and coming artist like Lady Q, Double T, and others. 

It’s so nice to be able to get creative with The Gambia's new stars. Every song has been a collaborative effort, we’re all writing lyrics and melodies together, getting creative, throwing around ideas. The vibes have been very positive as the energy from Ramadan still ligers, so masha'Allah those vibes are reflected in the music, producing a classic album for years to come. 

I must give props to Mo Black and AnOne for graciously allowing me to make musical magic at their cool studios. One Gam, one fam. 

Can you describe how you and your brother work together on a musical project? 

There’s so many ways it can work, Hak can take something from one of my solo albums, remix it and make it something new. He may give me a track to put melodies and vocal ideas down on, we may go in with a track and write a full song, he may give me a beat and have me add extra sounds and samples to it. I may start a beat and big brother will just come and take it over (laughs). 

A lot of the time Hak does the beat on his own and just has me do the engineering/vocal production/arrangement for an artist. It can work so many ways. 

What is it about Gambian music that appeals to you? 

I just see a lot of potential in the up and coming Gambian artists, with the right guidance and some quality production we can take the music international. 

There’s also a lot of good up and coming Gambian producers who are growing, eager and open to learn. 

How would you describe the current status of the Gambian music industry? 

I don't think it’s so bad. I need to study it more. 

I know I loved it back in the days, songs like Praises, Fatouyo, artist like Dancehall Masters, Rebellion, Pencha B, Royal Family… felt like a whole renaissance back then. Those were the days to me.  Sorry.. had to go down memory lane for a second (laughs). 

Do you have any favorite Gambian artists? 

Jaliba Kuyateh! 

What do you like to do for fun? 

I like to make music and have spiritual chats for fun. 

Any plans of hooking up with a Gambian girl (laughs)? 

Well… Whatever ALLAH wills is best. 

What do you miss about the USA? 

My sons, Bilal  six years and Yashuah four years. 

Finally, what can we expect from Sunland Music –B in 2013? 

More Hits, some surprises, and a lot of support in strengthening and furthering the Gambian Music scene (insha'Allah).  


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