How students and musicians came together for Project Lalala

Can music—the universal language—help French-language students immerse themselves in their adopted language and promote intercultural exchange? Working with French indie group Studio Nomade, Project Lalala, conceived by Laurent Bordier, the former Deputy Director and Head of Studies at the Alliance Française de Karachi, set out to do exactly that.

The 2014 project brought together students, professors, technicians, and musicians from France and the Alliance Française network in Pakistan to write and perform original songs, creating slam poetry about Karachi in French and melding typically French songs with traditional tabla and sitar arrangements. Requiring all hands on deck, the diverse group worked together in classrooms and studios on everything from writing lyrics to composing music to designing album covers to arranging technical aspects, and of course the singing itself.

Listen to all the tracks from Project Lalala:

Zigzag (AF Karachi)
Lyrics and chorus: Humair Junejo, Farah Ali, Fadia Khan, Khurram Loan, Qutub Mullah, Saima Sarfraz, Munifa Ayub, Jafar Syed Hussain Shah (B1 and B2)
Vocals: Alex Deschamps, Nadeem Sheikh (B1)
Musicians: Ustad Mumtaz Ali Sabzal (tabla), Denis Teste (sitar)
Music: Studio Nomade

Slam Pour K. (AF Karachi)
Lyrics:
Henri Souffay
Vocals: Leroy Johns (C1-C2), Dorothée Goxe
Music: Studio Nomade

L’âme soeur (AF Karachi)
Lyrics:
Based on ideas from Najeeb ur Rehman (B1)
Vocals:
Fareeha Tariq (A1)
Chorus: Muhammad Aman Khan, Areeba Tariq, Shehla Andleeb, Urooj Fatima, Fawzia Hoodboy, Sofia Azeem, Marziye Farriaby, Fahad Zaki Farooqui (A1-B2)
Musicians: Bina Shah (flute), Mohsin Hassan Alvi (guitar), Pierre Pleyber (double bass)
Music: Studio Nomade

Lulu l’hurluberlu (AF Lahore and Karachi)
Lyrics:
Multiple anonymous contributions on Etherpad by French students (A1-B1) in AFs Lahore and Karachi on the theme of Dix Mots (Chaine des mots), 2014
Chorus:
Tia Ismael, Ali Amer, Hussain Ali Khan, Alisha Khan, Shazeb Lafir Aziz, Huda Adeel, Syed Shah Wali Bokhari, Syed Danial Ali, Azmaray Tamim, Aleeza Wajid, Aleezay Khalid
Vocals:
Alex Deschamps (Studio Nomade)
Music:
Studio Nomade

Jolie Munifa (AF Karachi)
Lyrics:
Isfandyar Ali, Jasim Muhammad Ali, Wasef Syed Ali, Anosha Ashfaq, Hunaiza Ashraf, Khwaja Farouk Mazhar, Mohsin Hassan Alvi, Sameen Khalid, Saima Hassan, Asra Qarni, Areeba Tariq, Fareeha Tariq, Haiya Tirmizi (A1-A2)
Vocals:
Nathan Houée
Musician:
Pierre Pleyber (double bass)
Music and chorus:
Studio Nomade

La shisha enchantée (AF Karachi)
Lyrics:
Humair Junejo, Farah Ali, Fadia Khan, Khurram Loan, Qutub Mullah, Saima Sarfraz, Munifa Ayub, Jafar Syed Hussain Shah (B1 and B2)
Vocals:
Haiya Tirmizi, Asra Qarni, Khawaja Farouk Mazhar (A1-A2)
Musician:
Ustad Mumtaz Ali Sabzal (tablas), Ustad Bashir Khan (bulbul tarang), Ustad Mazhar Umrao Bundu Khan (sarangi), Gulnaz Riaz (traditional song)
Music and chorus:
Studio Nomade

Here’s what The Express Tribune had to say about Project Lalala.

Studio Nomade were well-received in Karachi, getting featured on the City FM 89 airwaves and performing in a concert at the Alliance Française de Karachi along with a band from Gilgit, Hunza, and Chitral called Bazm-i-Liqa.

Project Lalala was inspired by Bordier’s earlier stint in the Alliance Française network in China where he had organized a similar musical-linguistic collaboration between students and musicians from 2011 to 2012. Their award-winning initiative Si on Chantait (Let’s Sing), resulted in the distribution of 15,000 CDs of the final work across China.

Want to learn more? Read Bordier’s interview conducted by Corentine Biette of Café du FLE in the original French. Here’s the English translation published on Le Mag AF Pakistan.