Hailing from the West African Nation of Mali, Luka Guindo has been dabbling in music since age eight. He started out singing and playing instruments in church choir but after more than a little insistence from friends lent his vocals to secular recordings too. From here his career in music moved upward fast. Today Guindo is a prolific producer and runs one of the top recording studios in the country. He has also released a string of critically acclaimed albums under the alias of Luka Productions. These records have won him a growing international following. Drawing inspiration from life in Mali, Luka continues to create heartfelt and explorative music.
LENNOX GROOVE: Who are you and how did you start making music?
LUKA PRODUCTIONS: My real name is Luka Guindo. I’ve been making music since I was eight. I started in church, where I was part of the choir, and played instruments; I did a lot of things.
LG: There’s significant differences between your first album and your latest one. What inspired the change?
LP: My first album Mali Kadi - which means ‘Mali is soft’ - was more energetic, whereas Falaw visits themes close to heart. [These are] songs that make you think. It’s different and allows me to explore different things.
LG: What does your nation, Mali, mean to you?
LP: There’s wars in certain areas of Mali, luckily not where I live so as an artist, I must make music that means something to people. I make conscious music.
LG: What do you want to achieve through your music?
LP: My mother passed when I was 9. My father passed last year. In Mali we have a saying that you are a 'Falaw' (orphan) if you never knew your parents. But you are also a Falaw if both your parents are deceased. That is why I named by album Falaw. It’s hard to live without a mother or father, you can’t even imagine. I had to help orphans. My music is for the poor. We don’t have a lot of money, but we try to help. I collaborate with orphanages. We do concerts where we can all sing and dance together.
LG: What makes you stand out as an artist?
LP: I decided to sing instead of rapping. A lot of people here rap. There’s a lot of people who do rap battles and clashes, but I don’t participate. They have no purpose. You must help people through your songs, I make music to help people.
LG: Do you have any upcoming projects?
LP: I’m lucky to have travelled in Europe. I’ve been in Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, and Spain. People in Europe appreciate my music a lot too. I’m planning to play in Canada by next year. I’ve got a lot of projects coming up.
LG: Did you ever expect your music to become so successful?
LP: No, I did not. Since I was eight, I sang and played instruments for the church; drums, guitar, bass guitar, piano, some traditional instruments. They’re the instruments you hear in my music today. When my friends would get together to sing, they’d ask me to join but I’d reply that I only sang in church. Whenever I hear a wrong note, I’d correct it. My friends would ask me “Luka, why won’t you sing?”. Finally, I made a song with my friends, and the song was successful. I started singing, and my manager was contacted by some people who were interested. That’s how it all started.
LG: What do you have to say of the people of Mali to others who listen to your music?
LP: It’s a poor country. It wasn’t easy. I had faith, I had to work hard, from dawn till dusk. Today my studio is one of the top ones in the country. My music is versatile, my music is conscious, and I hope that my music helps people.
Words by Sahel Dupre Virtamo