Artist Profiles: Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box (BBB) blends electronic music, hip hop beats, and hard-edged folk music from the Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East.

BBB is a natural reaction of musicians who wanted to erase political borders (our ears don’t have them, why should we, as one band member put it). A band of New Yorkers, Israelis, Africans, and Bulgarians, led by ex-Gogol Bordello member Ori Kaplan and Firewater / Big Lazy’s Tamir Muskat, BBB brings together music, video projections, and a rotating cast of guests including the Bulgarian Chicks, Victoria Hannah, Jeremiah Lockwood, gnawa player Hasan Ben Nafar, Israeli MC Tomer Yosef, and more.

Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat have lived in New York City for over ten years, where they led a new scene of underground immigrant-based music (J.U.F Jewish Ukrainian Friendship and Gogol Bordello), which was based on the idea of taking ethnic music and modernizing it for contemporary audiences. Balkan Beat Box is a progression of this style of music, taking a worldly approach to the music of their ancestors, and evolving it to include not only the region of the world that they personally emigrated from, but also to incorporate the musical styles from their parents and grandparents birthplaces.

As Israelis born to Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Ori and Tamir learned their ancestors’ Eastern European music while surrounded by the music of the Middle East. Through their own migration to the United States, the blend of Eastern European and Middle Eastern music was transformed again. What emerged was a blend of musical cultures; traditional sounds from two distinct parts of the world have been melded together with modern instruments and beats, to create a musical genre displaying their multinational roots.

The band’s fifth studio album, Shout It Out, was recorded in Vibromonk in East Tel Aviv. New influences include ‘ghettotech’, bluegrass, and pop.

Discography

Balkan Beat Box (JDub Records, 2005)
Nu Med (JDub Records, 2007)
Nu Made [Remixes] (Crammed Discs, 2008)
Blue Eyed Black Boy (Nat Geo Music, 2010)
Give (Nat Geo Music, 2012)
Shout It Out (Digital Monkey, 2016)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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