Hiya wal Âalam är ett samarbete mellan en grupp tunisiska och palestinska musiker och berlinbaserade Olof Dreijer från The Knife. Gruppen leds av kompositören och slagverkaren Houwaida Hedfi, och i centrum för musiken står traditionella nordafrikanska rytminstrument som bendir, djémbé och chkachek. Men Houwaida Hedfi tillhör en ny generation av alternativa musiker från Tunisien som inte vill begränsa sig till en stil eller ett enda hantverk (för fler se till exempel samlingsskivan Sawtuha på Jakarta Records, 2014). Hon sitter lika välplacerad i producentstolen, som hon skriver, sjunger och spelar. Elektroniska beats, akustiska melodier mixas upp med miljöljud och ordlös sång.

Hiya wal Âalams musik skär rakt in i spänningsfältet mellan en levd erfarenhet och drömmens fantasivärld. Det är fängslande, komplext och enkelt på samma gång. Musiken pendlar mellan intima melodier och ett intensivt uttryck. Senare i år kommer debutalbumet, som spelas in i både Tunisien och Berlin, och produceras av Olof Dreijer.

Intervju med Houwaida Hedfi (H) och Olof Dreijer (O) från Hiya wal Âalam:

1. How did the collaboration start?


O: In 2012 my friend Wahib Soumade asked me to join to Tunis to help out with a compilation called ”Sawtuha” which means ”Her voice” in arabic. He was doing this for a German ngo called MICT who does cultural projects in North Africa. He had already worked with Houwaida on a previous compilation called ”La Tunisie Vote / Musique Sera”. So i met Houwaida there and I started with helping out with some production and sound design and later on we started working together. Houwaida records most of the material with her musicians in Tunis and i produce and mix in Berlin. And then Houwaida comes to Berlin and works with me in the studio finishing everything, mixing together… re record.. and mix again.. The process goes on.. And last year we had our premiere gig at Clandestino Gothenburg with just Houwaida, Taha and me and i thought it was really fun and i learn so much new things about rhytms and Houwaidas ways of composing so i really wanted to continue! Its very inspiring. And this summer we had the premiere gig of the new band where we play everything live, no backtracks, which is the total opposite to how I’m used to play ”live”


H: We worked together in “Sawtuha” project in 2012, i really liked how Olof mixed and made the sound design of my piece “Janna” that i have composed together with Chiheb ben lakhel, who is a guitarist and friend i’ve been working with a long time. With Olof we are really compatible, he knows how to do the things that i ignore and vice versa. That’s how we started our collaboration and Olof started to be involved in the music that i was composing.


Where is it going – what’s in the future for HWA?

O: Well the close plan is the Swedish and Us tour in November. And then in early spring we plan to release an album with Brille records from the UK, the same label we use for The Knife in the UK but they will put it out in the whole world. Then next year we hope to tour more in Europe!

H: We will tour in Sweden and US in november with Clandestino Institut and in the near future, an album will be released.
This is all for now. It’s like when you walk in a big street, the close bulding are clear and obvious, the ones more far, we can not see them, so we imagine how we want them to be.

Tell us about the live set you will perform on this tour, what can we expect?
H: You can expect to see some instruments that are not so common in the North.
What you will hear, i can divide it in two parts, one melodic part, and one percussive and more energetic part.
In the live show we are playing mainly my compositions from the album, and we are also playing music that we have made together in a collective process.

O: Hopefully you will get moved emotionally and move physically! Well at least i got goosebumps first time i heard the songs live and i couldnt stand still!

Can you give us a short presentation of each member and what they play?

Bendir, Djembe, Keyboard, Krekeb, Electronic drums.
In the live show we are playing mainly my compositions from the album, and we are also playing music that we have made together in a collective process.

Jalal Albess:
Bouzuki, Krekeb
He is Palestinian studying Violin in the “Institut Supérieur de Musique de Tunis”, he plays violin since he was a child and started playing Bouzuki at the age of 14.

Anissa Hammami: Guembri, Electric Guitar, Krekeb
She is the visual artist of HWA. She is playing the Gumbri which is an traditional instrument in North Africa

Taha Ennouri: Drums, Base, Keyboard, Krekeb
He is a multi instrumentalist, he has his own project “ArkTah’

Radhi Chaouali: Violin, Krekeb. He is studying Violin in the “Institut Supérieur de Musique de Tunis”. He is one of the young and promissing violin player in Tunisia.

Olof: Flute, Keyboard, Krekeb, Electronic drums. Olof is mainly a music producer. He adds an important electronic side in HWA with creating sounds that can be harmonious with the acoustic ones.