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Mirwais, confessions of a postpunk child

In 2022, Mirwais published The Almighty, a stunning dystopian novel of rare power.

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Mirwais, confessions of a postpunk child

In 2022, Mirwais published The Almighty, a stunning dystopian novel of rare power. An author was born, who today published a book less surprising but just as fascinating since he returns to the adventure of his youth, the group Taxi Girl. An epic as seductive as it is tragic, told with a distinguished pen, which brings to life an era of all possibilities for French rock: the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s.

“We were in the middle of post-adolescent emotional chaos, with testosterone because we were guys,” summarizes Mirwais Ahmadzaï, in his early sixties, adding that “the idea was to make something literary out of it.” The work is of a much higher level than that of the books by musicians published by the dozens since Keith Richards' autobiography in 2010. Only the story of Pete Townshend, leader of The Who, can claim a certain literary ambition. “We covered “Substitute” and “My Generation” with Taxi Girl at the beginning,” explains Mirwais, flattered by the comparison.

The difference is that Mirwais is not a tired rock star, but a respected musician, recognized and preserved from the throes of world fame. With his second solo album, Production, in 2000, the man left his mark on the history of electronic music. His collaboration with Madonna for four albums and a few enduring hits (Music, Don't Tell Me, Die Another Day, etc.) protected him from want until the end of his days.

Also read: Pete Townshend: “To continue The Who, we needed new songs”

Alfred Hitchcock explained that the better the villain's character, the better the film. A remark that can be easily applied to Mirwais' story. The Manager is an anthology villain, with the notable difference that he is a real character. “I don’t know if he was a real bad guy but he was a real crook. A completely legendary guy who told us he was going to Japan to start a new life and who stayed when he saw that Look for the Boy was becoming a hit.” This brilliant song is indeed the Taxi Girl classic, with its synth motif borrowed from the English group Magazine, and a text that is very advanced on sexual ambiguity.

“We were very young, and not very well surrounded. It was the end of the seventies, a super tough time, there was something abrasive in the air. The adolescent rage that was ours, we find it in rap now,” confides Mirwais. Isolated, discreet, quite solitary, the man scrutinizes the era with great acuity, which gives a sociological and political dimension to his story, with real class consciousness.

“I arrived from Afghanistan at the age of 6, in 1966. I come from a family of senior executives. My father was one of the first Afghans sent to Europe. He met my mother, an Italian, in Lausanne. After completing HEC, he returned to the country. He gave up a very high position to open an Afghan clothing store in Paris. I had the status of political refugee until 2010..." Which allowed him to escape military service, and made it possible to keep Taxi Girl alive, after having met the members of the group at high school, with Daniel Darc, who will be reformed P4.

Also read: The Nuc plus ultra: young French rockers and veterans The Who

Mirwais is a storyteller of sometimes shocking honesty in the realm of pretenses and permanent lies. It was well away from showbiz that this guitarist who switched to machines developed his uniqueness. The book is halfway between a form of pride and a strong feeling of waste regarding the potential of Taxi Girl. “We arrived just after punk, at a time marked by the war in Afghanistan and the assassination of John Lennon. We felt close to Kraftwerk, who had anticipated the robotization of society and we dove into it.” Crazy modern, Taxi Girl's records owe a lot to Maxime Schmitt, who was a bit like the fifth member of the German group.

“Nowadays people love Taxi Girl, but back then we were scary.” The active circulation of heroin within the group earned them a sulphurous reputation while the group embodies the future of French music. “We concentrated a lot of jealousy too,” admits Mirwais, who saw his dream disappear the day the drummer, Pierre Wolfsohn died of an overdose, at 20 years old. It would take two decades for Mirwais to establish himself under his sole name and achieve international success. But this is another story.

In addition to this work devoted to the period 1978-1981, Mirwais is writing a second volume devoted to the years 1982 to 1986, the second part of Taxi Girl's career. A final volume will be devoted to the sequel, notably his fruitful collaboration with Madonna. The man is, to date, the musician who has worked most closely with the superstar. “Madonna is not at all who we imagine in everyday life. People would be surprised, he explains about the one who is now an intimate. I got into electronic music around 1992, but it took me 6 years to get signed to a record label. I was considered a has-been when Naïve, a new label, offered me a contract in 1998, when French Touch was launched. If he is not strictly part of the movement, the forty-year-old then becomes a planetary reference. “I had a contract with Sony Music for the UK market and was looking to break into the US on Madonna's label, Maverick. That’s how she heard my work.”

Today we expect Mirwais to offer new titles. “I have lots of pieces but the conditions are not right. I don't want to be devoured by the ogre Spotify. It would be nice if there was a label that would put things straight on the artistic side. This is the first time in history that the general public has been domesticated by prescribers.”

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