The Lowertown Line

S4 E5 | FULL EPISODE

Siama Matuzungidi

Congolese-born guitarist Siama Matuzungidi performs for a live audience, and talks about growing up in a seminary, the popular musical genre known as Soukous, and his life in music.

AIRED: April 11, 2017 | 0:26:48
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TRANSCRIPT

(eclectic acoustic jazz)

- When I play my music

I always want people to feel it inside them,

forget their struggle, forget their pain,

and feel the healing.

It is not just singing,

but if two note, four note, can make somebody happy,

that is the thing I really want in my life.

My name is Siama Matuzungidi,

I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Every time I wanna write something,

I have to kind of connect to the Congo

to get at the inspiration.

In my imagination,

I can see the people in the village,

kids running, playing under the trees,

people just sitting under the tree

when it is too hot and just talk stories

and in the evening looking to the stars.

That's the thing I see when I'm connecting to my culture.

♪ (scat singing; improvising with wordless vocals)

♪ (bongo solo)

(audience cheering)

♪ (bongo solo)

♪ (scat singing; improvising with wordless vocals)

♪ (bongo solo)

(audience cheering)

♪ ♪

♪ Tuala maza

♪ Tuala bidia hey hey

♪ Tuala maza

♪ Tuala bidia hey hey

♪ ♪

♪ (scat singing; improvising with wordless vocals)

oh yeah

thank you

(applause and cheering)

My dad was chef in the seminary of the priests,

so students was coming to learn how to be priests.

Actually, when I was under 10,

I thought I would be a priest,

because that is the thing they want you to focus.

Be good kid, go to church,

every morning before to go to class,

and then be a priest like that.

You will achieve what they want.

When I told the priest I wanna be musician,

they said, "Oh good, I can teach you piano

"so you can be playing in the church every Sunday."

(singing in foreign language)

I said, "Oh, that's cool, yeah.

"I can do that, that'll be great,"

but then I just had two lessons

and I'm like, I think I don't like this.

I want a guitar.

They said, "I don't know how to play guitar,

"but we have guitars if you want to."

Then he took me in the room, when he open it,

I just, I couldn't breathe, I was like,

I never see beautiful guitars close to me like this.

Beautiful, looks like candy.

"Which one you want?"

So I choose the Gibson.

Her whole body was like, thin,

but the whole body, nice one, beautiful.

I'm like, "This."

"This the one?

"Okay, take it."

(upbeat rhythmic eclectic music)

- [Interviewer] Tell me just a little bit

about the decision to leave the seminary

and go to Kinshasa.

- That was hard, because my dad didn't agree.

I had to, I just left by force.

Dad thought I was too young

to try to go find my life, and no more school,

he was like, "You can't do that, you have to go to school!"

I'm like, "Um, I think I wanna be a star."

I went to Kinshasa, like it,

I joined a band, it was fully famous, (mumbles).

- (Dallas) The style of this song is called Soukous,

and even though it came out of Kinshasa,

it was really popularized in east Africa,

where Joe Shalita is from,

and he used to dance to Siama's music, back in the day?

- I grew up on this gentleman's music,

never knowing that we're gonna meet

right here in Minneapolis.

(laughter)

(applause)

So, not only is he somebody that I look up to,

but he really is a teacher, he's a great teacher, too,

not just to me, but to everybody else.

So it's a great honor to be on same stage.

(applause and cheering)

♪ Sisili, mon amour mama

♪ Mpenzi wangu mina kupenda

♪ Mimi nawe pamoja nayo o motema

♪ Whoop whoop whoop

♪ Nyenda Limuru, Sisili

♪ Nili yenda Limuru, Sisili

♪ Nilifika uko Siku kupata, mama

♪ Sisili, mama yeye

♪ Sisili, mon amour mama

♪ Mpenzi wangu mina kupenda

♪ Mimi na pamoja nayo o motema

♪ Sisili, mama yeye

♪ Sisi, mon amour mama - oh

♪ Mpenzi wangu mina kupenda

♪ Mimi nawe pamoja nayo o motema

♪ hey hey hey hey hey hey hey

♪ hey hey hey hey hey hey hey

♪ Don't say - Don't say - Don't say - Don't say - Don't say

♪ Don't say - Don't say - Don't say - Don't say

♪ Unh - unh - unh - unh unh - unh - unh - unh

♪ Too Crazy - too crazy too crazy too crazy

♪ Too Crazy - too crazy too crazy - too crazy

♪ indecipherable lyrics

♪ indecipherable lyrics

♪ Sisili, lele lele, Sisili, mama yee

♪ Sisili, lele le, Sisili, mama yee

♪ Sisili, lele lele, Sisili, mama yee

♪ Sisili, lele lele, Sisili, mama yee

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ Oa

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ (Scat singing)

♪ (Scat singing)

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ Yeah

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ Oh oh

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

♪ Ahh

♪ Umu shake shike kua fashi moja mama, Sisili

(Applause) Oh yeah

Thank you

Thank you so much

(serene acoustic guitar)

In the sixties, Soukous came as a dance.

It was dance people use in room.

Around seventy, people start using that style of music.

It's kind of uptempo a little bit,

and then the chant, so it is more dance party music.

I'm playing one, four, five, four.

So one, four, five, four.

So, this is a rhythm guitar.

Sometimes you can just go like...

And now this can be even rock and roll,

with this kind of playing.

But in Soukous, then it went...

(blues electric guitar)

I came here in 1995.

Dallas came from New York in 1995, same year.

So then we start performing in the same band.

- Siama would do just a simple little show at a bar

and there would be somebody there

who would meet him and cry,

and say, "Oh, your song is my mother's favorite song,"

or, "I can't believe I'm meeting you,"

and I'm like, who are you?

I researched him and realized

that he had this amazing career

that he'd never told me about,

and so every day I would show him

a big list of songs, and be like,

"Did you play on all these?"

and I uncovered this whole life of his

that he had never told me about because he's so humble.

And so, that was amazing to me

that I'd been with this person all these years

and didn't realize.

- Even me, I was like, did you find that where?

(laughing)

"Oh, online."

I'm like, really?

Somebody wrote that stuff about me online?

I didn't know somebody can do that.

♪ Bayaya tuende

♪ Tuende kuna vata mama

♪ Tunue maza

♪ Bamama tuende

♪ Tuende kuna vata mama

♪ Tunue maza

♪ Oya ye

♪ Yaya ho ho ya ye oya ye

♪ Bayaya tuende

♪ Tuende kuna vata mama

♪ Tunue maza

♪ Bayaya tuende

♪ Tuende kuna vata mama

♪ Tunue maza

♪ Oya ye

♪ Yaya ho ho ya ye oya ye

♪ Bayaya tuende

♪ Tuende kuna vata mama

♪ Tunue maza

♪ Bayaya tuende

♪ Tuende kuna vata mama

♪ Tunue maza

♪ Oya ye

♪ Yaya ho ho ya ye oya ye

I think music help me be alive (chuckles), really,

because when I'm performing or playing something

I don't remember any other pain or something,

but I mean, even if I get upset with somebody,

I just start to play my guitar,

my soul all will be clean.

♪ Hey ya, hey ya, hey ya

♪ Hey ya

♪ Hey ya

♪ Hey ya, hey ya, hey ya

♪ Hey ya

♪ Hey ya

♪ Hey ya, hey ya, hey ya

♪ Hey ya, hey ya, hey ya

♪ Hey ya, hey ya, hey ya

♪ Ahhh, Luyambule

- Everybody do that one.

♪ Ahhh, Luyambule

♪ Luyambula tala

♪ Ahhh, Luyambule

♪ Luyambula tala

♪ Ahhh, Luyambule

- Nice. A little louder.

♪ Ahhh, Luyambule

♪ Luyambula tala

♪ Ahhh, Luyambule

♪ Hey

(Audience applauds)

- Thank you.

(serene rhythmic acoustic music)

♪ ♪

We was performing, me and Dallas, somewhere outside,

so we had these maracas, and we put them down.

This one lady came with this kid,

maybe she was two years,

and then the kid came and take the shakers,

and then she was like,

but then the kid came even facing them

like he is part of the band, and I'm like,

ooh, this interesting, look at that kid.

(lively rhythmic music)

- So we have a few different things we do with kids.

One thing we do is an instrument petting zoo,

where we just put out on a rug

a bunch of different instruments

and it's just chaos, and it's really fun and cute.

And so we kind of perform

but we make it super interactive

so that they can sing with us and play and dance.

I know it's my favorite thing.

- [Siama] Yeah, it is my favorite thing, too.

- [Dallas] You love it, too?

- Because you can sing, when you're working with kids,

you can read them,

kind of like they are there for you, like...

They just, that connect with you look.

Oh man, you can't just play like, "I'm tired."

No, you'll be smiling, like "Aww."

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Malembe

♪Ya ngai nayo ezali ya suka te

♪Ya ngai nayo ezali ya suka te

♪Tozonga na mbopai yaba parent

♪Ya ngai nayo mama ezali ya suka te

♪Tozonga na mboka na baa biso ehe

♪Tobota bana mindele

♪Bana mindele ♪Bana mindele

♪Tobota bana mind

♪Bana mindele ♪Bana mindele

♪Bakende kolia kuanga na mboka ehe

♪Bakende kolia kuanga na mboka mama ehe

♪Cherie ngai na lingi yo oho

♪Nalingi yo ♪Nalingi yo

♪Cherie ngai naponi yo oho

♪Naponi yo ♪Naponi yo

♪Nabeleli

Oyoka ngai

♪Malembe malembe, kake ehe

♪Oh Malembe malembe took koma ehe

♪Yo

♪Yo

♪Yo

♪Yo

♪Malembe

♪Ya ngai nayo ezali ya suka te

♪Tozonga na mboka epai yaba parent

♪Ya ngai nayo mama ezali ya suka te

♪Tozonga na mboka na bana na biso ehe

♪Tobota bana mindele

♪bana mindele ♪bana mindele

♪Oh tobota bana mindele

♪Bana mindele ♪Bana mindele

♪Bakende kolia kuanga na mboka ehe

♪Bakende kolia kuanga na mboka mama ehe

♪Cherie nna lingi yo oho

♪Nalingi yo ♪Nalingi yo

♪Cherie ngai naponi yo oho

♪Naponi yo ♪Naponi yo

♪Nabeleli

♪Oyoka ngai

♪Malembe malembe kake ehe

♪Oh

♪Malembe malembe koma ehe

♪Yo

♪Yo

♪Yo

♪Yo

♪Malembe

Being here and play the music I always wanted to play,

that makes me feel good, makes me feel good,

because I feel like I have a chance

to give my...

My gift to the younger generation

who are trying to know how to play Soukous.

So I feel so good, I feel like I am blessed,

because if people didn't like it here,

I don't know what I was gonna do. (chuckles)

♪ ♪

♪Hey

♪Malembe

♪Hahahaha

♪Malembe

(cheering and applause)

- [Presenter] This program is made possible

by the state's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

and the citizens of Minnesota.

(serene electronic music)


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