Driss Filali is a mâalem, or master gnawa musician, and one of the key artists from the Moroccan diaspora in Brussels. Member of MetX groups like Marockin’ Brass and Banda Quetzal, he is also co-artistic coordinator of the gnawa training program Karkaba.
As the son of mâalem Selam, Driss Filali grows up in Morocco in a community where the gnawa-culture is omnipresent. From an early age, he learns to play music with his father and his nephew, mâalem Hamid. Together they perform at different lilas, traditional gnawa ceremonies, in Morocco and at festivals in France and Belgium.
In 2005 he performs together with his nephew at the international gnawa festival of Essaouira, after which Driss comes to Belgium in 2007. He soon meets Luc Mishalle, who proposes him to join the gnawa-jazz fusion band Marockin’ Brass. Together, they start playing concerts in Belgium and abroad and write the band’s fourth album Beats & Pieces.
As a mâalem, Driss masters traditional gnawa songs and instruments, such as the guembri, the krakebs and the t’bel. Together with Mohamed Saïd Akasri, he likes to share his passion and his know-how with a large audience: through projects like Karkaba, where they introduce people to gnawa music and dance, but also through the Muziekpublique Academy, where they recently started teaching the different aspects of gnawa culture. Driss and Mohamed also form the beating gnawa heart of other MetX productions like Remork & Karkaba or Banda Quetzal.