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Inflight Magazine of Brussels Airlines

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As the founding member of Belgian super-group Zap Mama, Marie Daulne has performed all over the world, garnered international acclaim, and worked with everyone from The Roots to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Her sixth album, Supermoon, is released this autumn

Marie Daulne

01 You live in Brussels. What do you miss about the city when you’re away?

I miss my family and my friends, of course. I used to live in New York, and the system in Belgium is much better than in America. It’s much easier for families here.

02 What advice would you give to somebody visiting Brussels for the first time?

Make sure you taste the chocolate and the waffles. If you want to get away from it all, head to the forêt de Soignes. If you like architecture, go and see Victor Horta’s town houses. Also, make time to visit Bruges – it’s the Venice of north Europe.

03 Which is you favourite city to play in?

I like performing in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York – the people there are so generous. But I also love performing in Brussels – I know so many people, I understand the mentality here and it’s home.

04 Zap Mama has been going for 15 years, a lifetime in the record industry. What do you put your longevity down to?

Really, I have no idea. Perhaps it’s because I’ve remained true to myself and what I do. It seems I have something to say that people want to hear.

05 You sing in several different languages. Which do you prefer to perform in?

I prefer to talk in French and sing in English. English is easy, and the sounds are beautiful to sing. Like Spanish and Portuguese, there are so many sounds to play with, but French is much more limited.

06 What are you working on at the moment?

My new album has just been released in Europe, so at the moment I’m touring.

07 Your new album, Supermoon is named after a certain sort of person. How would you describe a ‘supermoon’?

Anyone can be a supermoon – it’s a person who is true to themselves.

The media is obsessed with superstars, but supermoons follow their own agenda, they have their own style.

Of course you can be a celebrity and a supermoon – like Björk. I am a supermoon!

08 You’ve said in the past “the voice is an instrument itself.” How would you describe your vocal style?

My style is inspired by different cultures – Indian, African, American, Inuit. And it changes on every album. On this album, I borrowed techniques from the people of Gabon.

09 You had an African mother and a Belgian father. How has your dual heritage affected your outlook?

It was hard as a kid, you want to look like everybody else, and there aren’t many black people in Belgium – compared to England, or America or France. It became easier as I grew older. There were more black role models about – musicians and sports stars. At school I started to see my mixed heritage as a bonus – I could be part of both the African and Belgian communities.

10 Although you were born in Africa, you grew up in Belgium. Why did you chose to return to Africa at 20?

I wanted to understand more about African culture. I grew up I Belgium, and I didn’t know much about my African heritage. I’d heard my mother’s stories, but they didn’t give me all the answers, and I wanted to see it for myself.

11 How did Congolese and Belgium culture compare?

Life in Africa is more instinctive. With my Belgian family, it was important to sit down together, say grace and eat. With my mother’s family, if we didn’t feel like eating the food she had cooked right away, we didn’t have to eat it.

12 As a child you were harboured by pygmies. Has this experience influenced your music?

The pygmies saved a lot of Belgian people, so I will always mention them on every album. I made them a promise – they need recognition, so my music will always talk about them, as a thank you for what they did for the Belgian people.

13 Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From nature, paintings, other artists and films – especially Terry Gilliam movies. I was a painter before I was a singer, so when I’m writing music I tend to think in colours.

14 Which other artists do you admire?

There are so many! People like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Queen, Genesis and Supertramp.

15 Choose one song that would feature on the soundtrack of your life?

That’s impossible to say. If I had to pick the film that most resembled my life it would be Alice in Wonderland.

16 What’s the most important lesson that life has taught you?

To trust in the power of prayer. Before I make any big decision, I pray then wait for two or three days, until I see some sort of sign. It’s usually stood me in good stead.

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