Dismantling the Exoticism: an Interview with Christopher Kirkley

A conversation with Sahel Sounds for the Global Zomia Project

An audio recording of an interview between Christopher Kirkley and Bulat Khalilov, along with musical selections from Sahel Sounds

Bulat Khalilov speaks with Christopher Kirkley of Sahel Sounds in the next episode of his podcast Global Zomia—a project dedicated to DIY-ethnography and non-academic initiatives working with traditional and local music around the world. Christopher doesn’t just collect West African music of different genres, from desert blues to experimental electronics and hiphop, but also forms a community around his label that supports local musicians and involves them in new projects. Sahel Sounds also explores less obvious aspects of local culture, such as the impact of Whatsapp messenger on the Sahel music industry. Stories of the label's activities, along with discussions of the positive sides of exoticisation, the unexpected trust between Sahel musicians and Western producers, and the closing gap between DIY-labels and academic folklorists, form the narrative for this podcast.

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Bulat Khalilov
Ethnographer, journalist, co-founder of the Ored Recordings label, specializing in field recordings of authentic traditional music from the Caucasus, Russia, and the world. Lives and works in Nalchik.
Christopher Kirkley
Archivist, artist, curator, and director from Portland, Oregon who runs the label Sahel Sounds dedicated to music from West Africa.