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  • Youmna El Halabi

De.Ville: Aminata — beautiful meeting with an enchanting woman

Montreal-based dynamic duo, De.Ville is made up of instrumentalist savvy and producer Simon Pierre and singer Ziad Qoulaii.

photo: @rin.eadie

The Moroccan-Canadian twosome met at one of the many jam nights hosted in Montreal in late 2016, early 2017. The pair chatted and got to know each other, but the band wasn’t formed until much later.

Both Pierre and Qoulaii had visited Marrakesh that same year, the former as a vacation trip while the other was visiting family. Following that trip, the duo met and caught up with each other in Montreal, and recorded “The Love We Lost,” their first single together. The sound was raw, organic and experimental—and those will be the best words to describe most of their work.

Qoulaii’s first encounter with music began when he was a rock singer back in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, singing in his neighborhood and at school. He truly developed as a musician, however, in Montreal by playing with a number of different bands, ranging in style from jazz to Gnawa.

Gnawa is defined as a body of Moroccan and sub-Saharan African Islamic religious songs and rhythms. The music is performed at lila, communal nights of celebration dedicated to prayer and healing guided by the Gnawa maalem, or master musician, and their group of musicians and dancers. Quoulaii’s musical influence range heavily from rock and grunge music, to Raï (Algerian folk music), Egyptian. Lebanese pop, flamenco, tribal music and French, Moroccan and African pop.

This eclectic mix fuses quite well with Pierre’s sound. The Canadian-born has been a musician all his life, playing mainly guitar but dabbling as well in keyboards, synth, bass and drums. Pierre grew up learning music by playing what he enjoyed listening to, and his main inspiration came at first from film soundtracks, and his early high-school years were focused mostly on Blues, Jazz, and Rock’n’Roll. Hip-hop didn’t factor into the equation until much later in his life.

Truly, the dynamic duo has a myriad of musical genres to offer the world, and since their first album, Sables in 2018, composed of eight quite eclectic songs, they have continued to put out interesting music into the world.

Much like Montreal itself, De.Ville's music is a mosaic of culture, fit to enhance the importance of taking into account every bit of magic the world has to offer from every heritage.

De.Ville’s newest single, “Aminata” is a French-sung love song of a first meeting with a woman called Aminata. The synthetic drums, the light strum of a guitar, mixed with Qoulaii’s Arabic scale voice, that which resembles a call to prayer, truly showcases the cultural fusion in which the Montreal duo has successfully merged.

The song’s lyrics are in French, with a few sneaky Arabic words, as Qoulaii’s recounts a meeting in Université de Montreal with a fellow classmate, and how the discussion veered to the importance of different cultures within the same continent. Amanita is, from Quoulaii’s lyrics, a Black woman from the nether regions of the African continent. The song is a witness to the progression of their relationship, in a way, as she at first is wary of their differences in culture, but eventually understands that they share so many similarities and gives into the connection between them.

Elle m’a dit, vous les rebeux, vous êtes déracinés

Wallahi afriki, wallah mon sang

Peut être que ta peau est un peu plus matte que la mienne

Mais on vient d’un continent, on est tous les mêmes.”

“She told me you arabs, are uprooted

I swear I’m African, it’s in my blood

Maybe your skin is darker than mine

But we come from the same continent, we are all the same.”


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