Name: Aly Diop aka Lidiop
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Nationality: Senegalese
Recent Release: Lidiop's Another Vision is out via Soulbeats.
Recommendations: Book: Cheikh Anta Diop: Nation Negre; Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist

If you enjoyed this interview with Lidiop and would like to find out more about his music, visit him on Instagram.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

As I put it in one of my songs, music has called me since I was little. But since I didn't understand it at the moment it took me time to accept and understand the very essence of music or my music.

So I started a little late I would say, first by learning the guitar, then being able to create and make my emotions felt through my melodies.

For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?

My evolution I would say was just natural and logical. Originality is essential. It is important in everything to know how to stand out.

It's like a baby learning to crawl first, then how to walk before it can run. Every single step is extremely important.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

My identity makes my creativity feel natural. It comes to me in the same way that you turn on the tap and the water flows freely.

I feel myself when I sing because it is often my life that I transcribe into song - or the life of the people around me and everything I see.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

At the beginning, my main challenge was to first convince my family and those around me before convincing others. Later, the challenge was just for the message to spread around the world. Today, I feel that the message is getting more and more awareness, being passed along further and further.

Therefore, I haven't yet achieved all my objectives. But I'm on the right track.

As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?

The evolution of music and machines has not had a big impact on my way of creating. I play the guitar so it's easy to create, even if the industry as a whole has evolved.

Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

No. Nothing could change my way of making my music because it comes from the complicity between my guitar and my inspirations.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

As soon as I wake up, I'll have a little coffee a do a little sports. Then I take my guitar and can spend a whole day or half a day with it. I don't have a schedule. As long as there's inspiration, I'm on it.

But I do a minimum of 4 hours of rehearsal a day because it's anchored in me. Sometimes I lose all sense of time and I even forget to eat. My music and my life are linked.

I try to separate being a father and being a singer when I'm on stage. For me singing is a gift that God has given me and that I have to share with as many people as possible. But at the same time, being there for family is important. My personal life impacts my artistic life a lot.

Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

The event that marked me the most was my first appearance at Solidays. It was a first for me to play at a festival and in front of so many people.

Also, sharing the stage with the great Tiken Jah Fakoly. It was a dream since childhood and being with him on stage was like an endless dream.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

Our state of mind determines a lot about our creativity. Depending on our mood, we create either happy or sad songs.

To me, this means that it's important to be able to manage your emotions so they don't impact your creativity too much.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

For me music is a the cure for sadness, brings joy and sometimes nostalgia. For me, it has mainly been a cure, more than anything else. I don't think music can hurt.

There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?

For me, music must be neutral. It should be deeply spiritual rather than religious. As soon as we talk about a specific religion it can put up barriers, while for me music has no colours.

We feel it deep inside us: music is universal.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?

For music hearing and feeling are really essential.

This is what allows you to feel sympathy or to be touched deep in your heart either by the melodies or by the lyrics.

So I would say hearing and feeling complement each other: To feel you have to hear. To hear you have to feel.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

For me being an artist already means knowing how to express your emotions, representing others through your work, through your commitment. Being an artist is already a commitment and being engaged does not mean getting involved in politics. We can be socially engaged.

Already for me the fact of making music means to be the voice of the voiceless, to amplify what everyone is saying quietly. We say it so that more people can hear it and understand it.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

Music goes beyond life and death. It can remind us how death is so true. The  goal is to be able to enjoy life and not forget death.

Music also makes us think of people who are no longer of this world.