Mali’s desert rock ensemble Songhoy Blues made waves this year with the release of their debut album Music In Exile. The collection of 11 songs is shaped by the band’s displacement after their hometown of Gao in northern Mali was overrun by conflict in 2012.
The band had a strike of luck after cold-calling an Africa Express producer while he was in Bamako, which eventually led them to record with Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and sign with Atlantic Records—becoming the first African act the major label has signed in over 40 years.
The band’s story is prominently featured in the documentary film They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile, which follows Songhoy Blues and other Malian musicians as they resist the cultural repression sweeping through their nation.
Okayafrica TV recently captured Songhoy Blues’ electric live set during their show at Rough Trade in New York City. Watch our music video style clip of the group performing “Soubour” below, which we’re dropping today in conjunction with the release of They Will Have To Kill Us First across the UK & Ireland, as well as the formation of the Music In Exile fund.