Driss Filali is a mâalem, or master gnawa musician, and one of the key artists from the Moroccan diaspora in Brussels. He’s a member and one of the composers of the gnawa-jazz band Marockin’ Brass and 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 Morroco 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 group 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 the gnawa singing and instruments like the guembri, krakeb and t’bel to perfection. A passion and mastership he also likes to share through projects like Karkaba, where he teaches gnawa music and culture to teenagers and young adults, and JOLA, an album by Muziekpublique featuring some 15 gnawa artists living in Brussels.
Together with Mohamed Saïd Akasri, Driss also plays in other MetX productions. To name but a few: gnawa brass band Remork & Karkaba, the Marolles neighbourhood project MegafoniX or QuetzalQuatro, one of the MetX Moving Combo’s in 2020.