Moïse Polobi

Moïse Polobi is a 69-year-old musician from Guadeloupe. He’s been singing and sounding his djembé-like Gwo ka drums since childhood, heart-beating the memory of his ancestors. He was drawn to the drums of the léwoz (traditional rural music performances in Martinique and Guadeloupe), performing and singing with different Gwo Ka groups, throwing himself into a trance through hypnotic dance.

Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters’ latest album, Abri Cyclonique, is out now (17 February 2023) on Real World Records. Drawing inspiration from the heart of the tropical forest, the mystical character of Polobi and his musicians collaborate with idiosyncratic producer Doctor L (Les Amazones d’Afrique, Mbongwana Star), forging a radical new take on the Gwo Ka musical tradition. An electro-acoustic palette and offbeat rhythms adorn these deeply rooted Creole songs.

Images by Karen Paulina Biswell

Describe the nature around you at the moment.

Right now I’m at Kloc Kiavué’s house in Grande Savane, it’s 15 kilometres to the mountain on the west and 15 kilometres to the sea on the east. There’s fabulous biodiversity, mango trees, avocado, coconut trees...a very beautiful and peaceful green environment with the blue of the sky and the sea behind. Today it's a sunny day with a lot of light, I give thanks for that.

Where do you feel most at ease?

I'm okay everywhere because the vibes of nature are with me all the time, everywhere.

How does nature influence your music?

Nature is the essence of my music, it's my principal source of inspiration.

What lessons have you learned from singing and performing in forests?

It's like going to university. I’m studying how to listen, how to observe, how to breathe, to be in tune with the environment, to mix your sound with the natural sounds, to sing like the wind in the trees, like the river, to be happy much teaching.

What are you interested in at the moment?

Trying to be a better man, that's the goal - give love, help people.

What kind of ancestor would you like to be?

I would like to be remembered as an artist who left a real “témoignage” of his time. A simple and humble loverman.

Which rituals do you practice?

I just try to celebrate nature, I have a tree I talk to every day, and I try to go to the river early every morning - nothing strict.

What vegetable couldn’t you live without? (Question from #TheNatureKind interview with Tej Rawal)

It's a difficult question, It's like having to choose which one of your kids you love more, I eat a lot of green bananas.

What question would you like to ask the next person on #TNK?

Gwadloup is a little paradise with earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes, so what is the powerful manifestation of nature in your land and how do people deal with it?

Could you suggest someone else or other organisations you admire that we could approach for #TheNatureKind?

Dr Henry Joseph works a lot with the plants on the Island, I believe he'd have a lot to say about nature, health and the economy.

You can find out more about Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters’ album here.

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