Fely Tchaco

11th Annual World Beat Song Winner

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Record Label: Self-Released

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Home Base: San Francisco, CA

Genre: World, Traditional, Tribal Pop, African

Category Entered: Song Category (World Beat)

Work Submitted: One Song, “Goba”; one video “America Land of Hope”

Artists Featured:
Fely Tchaco (Composer, Co-Producer, Lead Vocals, Backup Vocals, Cow Bell)
Abou Diarrassouba (Djembe)
Paul Sonnabend (Conga)
Freddy Clarke (Acoustic Guitar)
Jerry Martin (Engineer/Producer)
Teddy Shull (Bass)

Label: Self-released (Fely Productions/ZEWP)

Who are your influences? Growing up, I listened to various artists from different parts of the world. It would be hard to say who is really my influence. I did like Angelique Kidjo’s early music Afro Dance Pop. I Also love Rock’n Roll and Afro Cuban music.

Describe your nominated work. The nominated song “Goba” comes from a forest rhythm music and dance from the Central West part of the Ivory Coast of the Guro tribe. The style can be called Gahou or Zahouli. Zahouli dance was originally invented by a woman, it denotes beauty, grace and challenge. It is normally played acoustically, but I modernized it and added Guitar, Bass and Synths.

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? Yes, the intro of the song starts with tropical birds sound, then leads into the beginning of the first verse with an elephant voice. In the middle of the song where the breakdown starts is the voice of a Lion.

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? Since my producer/engineer is a bit of a perfectionist, the project toke longer than planned.

How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses? The project was self-funded on a shoestring budget. (Many hours were donated by my producer/engineer). I am hoping to recoup from my expenses by playing as many festivals as possible; where I can sell more CDs.

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 11th IMAs? I feel there is a great story behind this song and also that the music and dance style is not known to many people yet.

What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? On one level, I feel successful knowing that I can create and sing beautiful songs. On the next level up, I feel successful when my band and my friends comment on how much they love my music. On the next level, I feel successful when I put on a great show and the audience is loving it. My final level of success will be when I’m well paid and well known for doing what I love.

How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals? I will leverage my IMA honors to help me find a manager and agent. The honors will also help in getting better gigs.

Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique? What make my fans unique is the fact that they are always looking for something interesting and new. They also especially love to dance and want to be entertained. My audience consists of people from the fashion industry, producers, artists, students, children and people of all ages who just love great music.

What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? Spending too much money on my wardrobe. One of my mishaps was that I once went on stage late after they announced me,  just because I couldn’t decide which outfit I wanted to wear.

Who are your musical heroes & influences? My music heroes would be artists who have touched people across border thoughout the world with their music. Originality and creativity means a lot to me. I can say that I am deeply influenced by my Gouro culture.

Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why? “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien” of Edith Piaff. As a woman from Africa, who have gone through a lot, this song always gives me a lift whenever I feel down. Stand By Me, very poetic and universal.

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? Gene Petney, Mozard, Edith Piaff, Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee

How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming? I buy music that I find interesting in a music store or online streaming.

How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free? Musicians will not make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free. It is like asking the fans themselves to work for whatever company they are working with without a pay after they have graduated from harvard university and are still loaded with a big  student loan debt. I would like the fans to answer this question for me if they can.

What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today? What the fans and audiences don’t understand about the music is this: Think of it as a civil engineer who for a long period of time is trying to map out a bridge, has to draw it, make sure all the measurement are correct, then convince an investor to elaborate the plan, then spend several years in constructing the bridge, but before, he has to hire many different people in different fields to complete his work. Then when the bridge is done, the city decides that everyone citizen should cross the bridge with their cars for free without any toll. Imagine what is going to happen…

Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future? Digital Singles/EPs are the future! Personally, it is a waist of money and ideas to have too many songs on one album. It only takes one song to touch someone’s heart!

Finish this sentence: The music industry is…not an easy industry especially for an African female independent artist. The road can be long and bumpy, but once you make it, it becomes a fun game.

What do you have in the works for the upcoming year? I am working on new songs, and looking for a manager and agent.

Where fans can find you and your music: