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The Project

Daby Touré & Chris Velan is the new musical collaboration of two, kindred singer-songwriters from distinct but close worlds. Velan, who was born and raised in Montreal and Touré, who moved to Montreal in 2018  from Paris, met in 2016 through Vermont-based world music label, Cumbancha. The two struck up an immediate musical friendship, kindled by their shared guitar-playing style affinities and parallel careers as singer-songwriters. When Velan joined Touré onstage for one of his Montreal performances in 2017, their immediate musical chemistry prompted them to commit to a future collaboration project. The seed that was planted then is now coming to fruition with "Emissaire Vol. 1".

In March 2019, the two met at Velan's studio outside of Montreal. The idea was simple: To see what musical ideas they could create on the spot using two electric guitars and their voices. Both artists shared a strong desire to step out of their creative habits to discover something new about themselves. They wanted to find new musical ground through the interplay of their guitars and lyric-writing styles to approach the common thematic threads of their song-writing: Compassion, love, tolerance, social justice, alienation.

At the end of two days of recording they had thirty instrumental ideas to choose from, a dozen of which stood out as exceptionally compelling. The music that emerges falls most recognizably into the genre of Desert Blues - music from Saharan West Africa that formed the basis of North American Blues. In its lilting rhythm, trance-inducing repetition and lullaby-like sweetness, Touré and Velan found fertile ground to weave their melodic ideas and incorporate their own contemporary influences. The result is a mix of Desert Blues, folk, Americana, Pop and Soul that reflects each artist’s personal and stylistic imprint.

They spent the following three months meeting weekly to write lyrics over the chosen instrumental recordings. Sharing five languages between them, they soon recognized an opportunity to use language as a bridge to deepen the international reach of the project. They also discovered how the writing process changes depending on the language used, affecting phrasing, rhyming, cadence and imagery. Letting the music choose the language, they decided to both have songwriting input and participation in whatever language was being used, regardless of one’s familiarity with it, so as to make each song as much of a shared experience as possible. The resulting four tracks on "Emissaire Vol. 1", sung in
Wolof, Soninké, Pulaar, French and English, represent the first offering of what Velan and Touré hope will be more to come.

Daby Touré

Born in Mauritania, and raised in Senegal, Daby Touré lived for more than a quarter century in Paris before moving recently to Montreal. While his father and uncles formed the pioneering Afropop band, Toure Kunda, Touré has always followed his own musical path, with influences ranging from African folk melodies and desert blues, to jazz, pop, reggae, funk and soul. Touré has shared the stage and studio with everyone from pop superstar Peter Gabriel, Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi, Italian folk adventurer Enzo Avitabile, African-American bluesman Skip McDonald, French pop icon Maxime LeForestier and Israeli-African collaborative The Touré-Raichel Collective. After releasing three albums with the Peter Gabriel's Real World label and one with Universal Music, Touré revived his independent spirit with Amonafi, an album released in September 2015 on respected international music label Cumbancha.

Chris Velan

Montreal singer-songwriter and producer, Chris Velan, has always been crossing borders with his mix of world music-influenced, singer-songwriter pop. Drawing comparisons to the smart, genre-blending writing of Neil Finn, Nick Lowe and Paul Simon, he has toured throughout North America with festival performances at The Lincoln Center, Sundance Festival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, and Osheaga.  As a producer, he has worked with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars and Haitian music collective, Lakou Mizik. The single, "Un-American Gothic", from his 2016 album, “Glow", was in CBC Radio 2's Top 100 Songs List for 2016. Chris’ latest album (his seventh), Amateur Hour, saw its single, “All Time Record” reaching #7 on CBC Radio 3’s Top 30 Songs of the Week. His current single, "Ma Baleine", represents Velan's first foray into French songwriting.

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