Youssef El Aouam, an entrepreneur from Agadir, has rapidly turned his lockdown dreams of becoming a better guitar player into a multi-media art residency attracting artists from all over Morocco and reaching audiences all over the world.
Last year, during the height of thepandemic in Morocco, he created Aloha Vibes – an artist’s residency and recording studio. Here, artists will find everything they need to be creative and enjoy inspiration.
In a very short time, Youssef has built out the team so that Aloha can support an artist to bring a song from the conceptualization phase, through to writing, recording, and preparing to be played around the world.
His frenetic mind has also conceptualized the idea of Aloha Live – hosting digital concerts in-studio fusing singers and vocalists with dexterous backup musicians, creating a very distinctive sound.
Before Aloha Vibes came Aloha Surf Camp
But, before we get into the music and what Aloha Vibes is doing, let’s rewind and look at Aloha Surf Camp.
Aloha Surf Camp was founded in Tamraght — a small coastal town 15 kilometers north of Agadir — in 2007 by Youssef’s father, Abdesssamad El Aouam. Aloha Surf Camp was one of the first surf camps in the area.
In the late 2000s,in Morocco was covered by a few international surf magazines. From there, there was a massive explosion in the amount of surfer dudes and dudettes coming to Morocco for a gnarly surf session. Now into a new generation, Aloha Surf Camp continues to evolve and has been utilising Instagram and other social media tools to continue reaching and growing its audience. The surf camp has over 12,000 followers on Instagram.
Growing up amongst the guests coming and going from the surf camp, Youssef El Aouam developed an interest in music. He picked up instruments and learned how to play. From there, he sought out other musicians and found himself making friends with other musicians from all over Morocco.
Alongside his time in music, Youssef applied himself to his studies. In 2017, he graduated from ESITH with a Masters in Marketing.
Aloha Vibes didn’t start its life as an art-residency with the ambitious goal of inviting international artists and creating a global audience. It started with Youssef having a lot of downtime on his hands because of the pandemic. Youssef wanted to put his hands to work and improve his guitar playing.
“I needed a place where I could go that was away from everyone and I could just practice,” he explains. “That simple idea led to me thinking about sound isolation. Which led me to thinking about music studios. One thing led to another.”
As he built the studio, Youssef ran into challenges when trying to source studio equipment. Getting the right specialized equipment for a music studio in Morocco is never going to be easy. Trying to get that equipment during Covid certainly didn’t help. The equipment was held up at the borders. But, perseverance won the day and Aloha Vibes is now a fully equipped studio with two live rooms for recording and another room for producing, mixing, and engineering projects.
Aloha Vibes has a team of five that Youssef leads. The team includes engineers, mixers, producers, and an art director.
Remember the mention above that Youssef made friends as a young musician with other young musicians from all over Morocco? Well, today, those same young musicians are some of the biggest names in contemporary Moroccan music. And, they come to Aloha Vibes to record.
“One day, we wrote a full song. We had Except — a producer — and Madd and Small X in the studio,” Youssef recalls. “When we started we only had two notes. In one day, we took it from the two notes to a fully completed song. It hasn’t been released yet. But, it’s called ‘Ying-Yang.’ It’s gonna be great, keep an ear out for it!”
Other friends who’ve come to record at Aloha Vibes include ElGrandeToto, Hindi Zahra, Ouenza, and TiiwTiiw. If you’ve not heard of them, take a break from reading this and head over to YouTube.
“Aloha Live is an African first. Something we’re really proud to be developing. The concept is to have a digital concert with a unique twist. We invite Moroccan and international artists to Aloha Vibes. In a concert on YouTube, we reimagine their songs and albums over African rhythms.”
“Our studio musicians, musicians I know from the local area, come and support the singers and vocalists. They’re consummate session musicians and our experiments with fusing musical styles together is always fun and creative. We’re the first platform through all of Africa to be doing this fusion of musical styles with African rhythms in an online setting!”
It’s not just fun for the musicians and artists to be fusing their music and exploring new rhythms. Audiences are avidly listening and watching. An Aloha Live session recorded in late January with ElGrandeToto has already generated over 2.6 million views!
First Morocco, then the world!
Covid has only inspired Youssef to do more. First, he built a music studio and developed an artist’s residency. Then started hosting in-studio concerts online.
Next comes bringing Aloha Vibes and Aloha Live to an international setting, putting Morocco on the map as a place to visit for music.
And, all the ingredients needed for great music are here already.
“We have it all. We have the equipment, the knowledge, the people and the vibe for anyone to come and make great music no matter where they’re from,” Youssef tells us.
There’s a peaceful atmosphere through Tamraght. The small town hugs the beautiful coastline. From anywhere in town, it’s possible to hear the surf crash on the beach.
Aloha Vibes music residency in Tamraght is making all the right kinds of noise on the international stage.
In a very short period of time, Youssef has transformed his idea into a business inspiring and entertaining others.
The real question is, has his guitar playing improved?
Aloha Vibes to keep up to date with their Aloha Live sessions and what else they’re up to. Click here AlohaVibesProd.com for more.