Marty Coyle brings his Moroccan Collaboration to the Nerve Centre

With a workshop and concert on Wednesday 23rd November


Marty Coyle during his Moroccan travels

The Nerve Centre’s Musician-in-Residence, Marty Coyle, may only be half way through his term but boy has he packed a lot in and is enjoying every minute of it.

“Every day is exciting and I'm getting to meet some great people from all walks of life, both from the city and further afield” he said when we caught up with him this week. 

Over the years Marty has spent much time travelling across Europe and immersing himself in the music and cultures of many different regions he has visited, and locally is perhaps most often associated with traditional and folk fusion group Balkan Alien Sound, in which he plays bouzouki.

The role has obviously seen much collaboration with local artists, and as such, Marty feels that his own music has been influenced in return. “I think everyone I have collaborated with has recommended music to me that I otherwise may not have found typically. I really enjoy finding and listening to new music so in that sense it has broadened my musical tastes which inevitably feeds into what you're playing” he said.

“One of my roles sees me making a collaboration album with various musicians from the city and further afield. However, on the flip side of that I have formed a band, or mini orchestra, BASORK. This project is an extension of my current touring group Balkan Alien Sound and has given myself, and my band mates, a real opportunity to express some of the music and compositions that we have been working on over recent years in the form of a ten piece group.

“This project has let us experiment with composition and arrangement in a whole new way. I'm getting to work with some of the best brass players in the city. More importantly I get to showcase my closest friends and band mates who I have to give massive kudos for their talent and hard work and without whom, this project would be impossible. I'm excited to present our upcoming album next spring, BASORK.”

With so many collaborations, events and workshops associated with the role, I was interested to find out if there was one in particular that stood out so far. “That's difficult to answer as I'm enjoying so many aspects of the role” he said.

“But, if I was to answer from a purely personal level, it would be getting to know my instrument - bouzouki - on a completely new level. Collaboration often means stepping into the unknown, which I find exciting, and it's interesting to hear how your playing changes with each collaboration.”

This month sees the current intercontinental exchange with Morocco come to fruition locally with a concert and workshop with the Moroccan band Gantoura and musician Meryem Aboulouafa.

“The Moroccan exchange came about through a British Council project with Nerve Centre. It was actually my first assignment as Musician in Residence and to be honest, I did not know what to expect” he said.

“I joined last year’s Musician-in-Residence, David Lyttle, Glenn Rosbourough and Marty McGill on a trip to a the small Moroccan town of Youssoufia to facilitate an intensive week of music careers workshops culminating in a large concert in the old town market to about 1000 people. The aim of the project was to enable young musicians that have got to a certain point of their career with the skills to take them to the next level.

“A very tough task in Morocco and it was a real insight into how lucky we are here given how underdeveloped the ‘amateur’ or ‘semi-pro’ industry (or lack of) is in Morocco. There is definitely some great potential there to be tapped. I suppose that's part of the reason we want to get some of that music heard and are hosting the Moroccan exchange here in Derry.”

Marty Coyle with a traditional Moroccan street musican

Gantoura and Meryem Aboulouafa, are artists which Marty had met during his visit to Youssoufia. “Meryem is a versatile singer songwriter who delicately plays nylon string guitar singing in Arabic, French and English. Gantoura are an afro-beat fusion group combining funk, blues and Gnawa (traditional Moroccan) music. They actually invited me onstage at their Youssoufia concert to play bouzouki on a song. It was a real pleasure and an experience I'll always remember.

“The workshop will be giving an insight into Moroccan music and culture, something I was not fully aware of before my trip. For me the music was instantly infectious and had the ability to tap into something almost spiritual. I think I only listened to gnawa music for maybe six weeks on my return!

“It was a great introduction and I'd like to use the workshop to let the Moroccan musicians present their music and culture. I'll also be composing some music with the Moroccan musicians while they are here which will be released on the collaborations album next year also. I'll also be involving some local musicians on this so can perhaps start some new international musical relationships.

An evening of music showcasing the unique collaboration between Derry and Moroccan musicians, Gantoura and Meryem Aboulouafa will take place on Wednesday 23rd November from 8.30pm. The Moroccan Gnawa Music Workshop will take place early that same day from 4-5pm and you can register your interest by emailing Marty Coyle on Both events are free to attend.



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