Mdou Moctar

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Mdou Moctar
Mdou Moctar Milhões de Festa 2014.jpg
Background information
Also known as M.dou Mouktar
Born c.1986
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) musician
Instruments guitar, vocals, synth
Years active 2008–present
Labels Sahel Sounds

Mdou Moctar (also known as M.dou Mouktar; born c. 1986[1]) is a Tuareg songwriter and musician based in Agadez, Niger, and is one of the first musicians to perform modern electronic adaptations of Tuareg guitar music.[2][3] He first became famous through a subtle trading network of cellphones and memory cards in West Africa.[4]

Mdou Moctar is a popular wedding performer and sings about Islam, education, love and peace in Tamasheq.[5][6][7] He plays a left-handed Fender in a takamba and assouf style.[5][8] He is originally from Abalak and has also lived in Tchintabaraden and Libya.[9][10][11]


His first album, Anar, was recorded in Sokoto, Nigeria in 2008 and prominently featured "spaced-out" autotuned vocals and the influence of Hausa music.[12][5][4][13] The album was not officially released at the time but the songs became hugely popular across the Sahel when they went viral through cell-phone music trading networks.[14][15][4] They reached a global audience when Sahel Sounds released his music on the Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 1 compilation. Two songs were covered with English homophone lyrics by Brainstorm, an American band from Portland, Oregon.[16] Anar was released on vinyl in 2014 with a high price, due to "predatory business practices" from Sixt on Moctar's first European tour.[17]

His next album, Afelan, was recorded live in Tchintabaraden and features "rusty-edged jams and sun-weathered ballads".[18] The title track is named after a celebrated historical/folkloric hero of the Azawough of Western Niger.[19] It contains a cover of "Chet Boghassa" by Tinariwen.

On his first realizations and interest of an audience outside of the Saharan region, Moctar said in late 2014: "“I first met (Christopher Kirkley of Sahel Sounds) on the mobile phone as he had called me ... It was a weird conversation, as I thought my cousin was pulling a joke on me so I hung up. This American guy calling me, saying he wanted to work with me for my music, it just couldn’t be real. He called me again and we talked. He came to visit me in my village and also sent me a lefthanded guitar, which is very hard to find in Niger. This guitar has crossed several African countries to arrive in my hands, I have been playing it ever since!"[20]


Moctar appeared in the short film I Sing the Desert Electric.[21]

He also has the starring role in the 2015 film Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, which translates as "Rain the Color of Red with a Little Blue In It".[22][23] It tells the story of a musician from Agadez, who struggles with competing artists, a difficult home life, romantic problems and his own internal strife; whilst riding around the desert on a purple motorcycle.[24][25] The film is an homage to Purple Rain and The Harder They Come; and is influenced by Moi, un noir, Jean Rouch, Italian neorealism and poverty row films.[3] It is the world's first feature film in a Tuareg language, specifically a mixture of dialects from Aïr and Azawagh.[26][27] The soundtrack features music performed on set and at L'Embobineuse.[28]



  • Anar (2008)
  • Afelan (2013)
  • Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai OST (2015)


  • Tahoultine (2011)[29]
  • Anar / Vanessa (2012) (split with Brainstorm)[30]

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 1 (2010)[31]
  • Music For Saharan Cellphones: The International Reworks (2011)[32]
  • The Mdou Moctar Covers (2012) (split with Brainstorm)[33]
  • Pop Music From Republique Du Niger (2012)
  • Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 2 (2013)[34]
  • Ronald Paris / Mdou Moctar (2014) (split cassette with Porches)[35][36]
  • Rough Trade Shops Africa 13 (2014)
  • Mind The Gap #110 (2014)
  • Below The Radar 10 (2014)


  1. ^ "MUZIEK: Mdou Moctar – Toeareg-rockheld voor de jonge generatie". Gonzo Circus (123). 4 September 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Anar". Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Kirkley, Christopher. "Akounak: The feature film of a Tuareg guitarist in Agadez". kickstarter. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "tahoultine, chopped and skyped". Sahel Sounds. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Allan, Jennifer Lucy (October 2014). "Prince of the Desert". The Wire (368): 10. 
  6. ^ "Mdou Moctar, musicien touareg du Niger". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Mdou Moctar, Desert Warrior". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Mdou Moctar/official". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Audio: Mdou Moctar & Brainstorm ‘Anar/Vanessa’". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Music from Saharan Cellphones". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "MDOU MOCTAR". Cafe Oto. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Doran, John (30 December 2014). "The playlist: the best Middle Eastern and North African music of 2014, with Noura Mint Seymali". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "MDOU MOCTAR". Cafe Oto. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Audio: Mdou Moctar & Brainstorm ‘Anar/Vanessa’". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Mdou Moctar – ‘Anar’ (Official Video)". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "of love and eyebrows". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Kirkley, Chris. "here be dragons". Sahel Sounds. Sahel Sounds. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  18. ^ Holslin, Peter. "Master of Saharan Guitar: Mdou Moctar “Anar”". Passion of the Weiss. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "sahel vinyl". Sahel Sounds. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "Knik". "An Interview with Mdou Moctar. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "i sing the desert electric (download)". Sahel Sounds. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  22. ^ "Mdou Moctar - Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai TEASER". Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  23. ^ "Mdou Moctar protagoniza un nuevo filme documental: “Rain the Color of Red with a Little Blue In It”". conceptaradio. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  24. ^ "". conceptoradio. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  25. ^ Singer, Matthew (14 January 2014). "Kickstart My Heart: Portland Blogger To Direct First-Ever Tuareg-Language Film in West Africa". Williamette Week. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Mdou Moctar - Akonak (TEASER TRAILER 2)". Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Kirkley, Christopher. "rain the color of blue with a little red in it". sahel sounds. sahel sounds. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  28. ^ Kirkley, Christopher. "Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai OST". Sahel Sounds. Sahel Sounds. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  29. ^ "Tahoultine". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  30. ^ "Mdou Moctar/Brainstorm on Sahel Sounds Records". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  31. ^ "Music For Saharan Cellphones Vol.2 crowdfunding LP release". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "Music For Saharan Cellphones". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "The Mdou Moctar Covers". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "Music from Saharan Cellphones: Volume 2". Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  35. ^ Cohen, Ian. "Porches". Pitchfork. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Porches./Mdou Moctar Split". Seegreen Records. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 

External links[edit]