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     “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved music.” Sincere human expression: that’s how Nael El Bourjarfaoui sees music. As a child, he was obsessed with rhythm, and any time he found a percussion instrument, he had an irresistible urge to play it. When he was six years old, he began taking djembe, glockenspiel and piano lessons, and his thirst for music grew. As a teenager, he began delving into more diverse styles, including Afro-American music, Latin music, traditional Breton music and jazz. His teachers saw his obvious potential and encouraged him further. Then, at the music school in Rennes, particularly with Pascal Salmon, his artistic expression further developed and he began to create his own works.

     Nael El Bourjarfaoui was clearly destined to be a musician. “I have always had a love for music.”


When did you first start playing?

     “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved music. Some of my earliest memories are about music. As a child, I always heard a lot of music, and when I was very little, I used to love taking the percussion instruments I found and trying to play them. I already had a taste for so-called Afro-American music.


     Then, when I was six, I began having djembe and glockenspiel classes, and then I had piano lessons with Raphaëlle Piquet. As a child, I had seen pianists in Westerns, and that made me want to learn how to play.”


You often talk about having a special relationship with rhythm

     “I’ve always had a love for rhythm. I’ve always had a love for music.”


     When I was a teenager, I joined the Lannion batucada band, where I was able to perfect my approach to rhythm with Yann Gueguen.

     Then, I took some drum lessons with Yann at the youth centre in Lannion.

     After that, I increasingly developed a taste for jazz and boogie on the piano.

     I played keyboards in a few rock bands at the Lannion youth centre. Each year, the two groups at the centre went on a tour all over Brittany. I was 12 years old then.

     I learnt a lot on those tours, a lot about music, about myself, about organising events and tours, sound engineering, social relationships, etc.”


What is your academic background?

     “When I was 12 years old, I joined the Lannion music school, where I learnt classical piano with Rémi Maldidier. And I also learnt about analysis and classical orchestration from Emmanuel Smague.

     And more importantly, that’s where I took part in jazz workshops run by the saxophonist Sylvain Megnegneau. That’s where I developed a real taste for jazz standards.”

Did you always want to be a musician?

     “When I was in middle school, I wanted to be a doctor. But then, by the time I got to high school, my mind was fully set on music.

     First Yann and then Sylvain gave me a lot of encouragement. It already seemed obvious to them at the time that I would be a musician. I can see it more clearly now. There was no way I could possibly do anything else.

     I went to the Rennes Jazz Academy, and then the Faculty of Musicology after I finished my baccalaureate. The town is simply brimming with music and musicians, and I met a lot of people. Without a doubt, they were some of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had.”

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