Multicultural Sounds: The Do – Tightrope (Janelle Monae Cover), BRAINSTORM (Mdou Moctar Covers)

Multicultural Sounds travels the world for contemporary reinventions of cultural staples.


The Dø – “Tightrope” (Janelle Monaé Cover)

Janelle Monaé is one charming lady, and her music for “Tightrope” is the type of spectacle one can watch and re-watch and hardly tire of. French-Finnish duo The Dø have decided to take a stab at slowing down the R&B dance track and adding a sultry lethargic bluesyness to it. While The Dø’s version certainly lacks the immediacy of Monaé’s, there are times when one desires to chill rather than bust ass, and their cover is a suitable go-to for such times.

BRAINSTORM – Mdou Moctar Covers (Music From Saharan Cellphones)

Portland pop band BRAINSTORM have recently covered two tracks from Nigerian musician Mdou Moctar. To ensure as close of a sonic match as possible, drummer and vocalist Adam Baz romanized the original lyrics and new English-language lyrics were created with the intention of maintaining the original flow and cadence of the song.

Moctar’s songs were first brought to the band’s attention by Sahel Sounds, a blog that releases West African music captured via cellphone SIM cards. This form of data transfer is one of the most popular and economically-sound options in an area where access to computers is limited. Below, you can listen to both BRAINSTORM’s covers and Moctar’s originals.

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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