Omar Souleyman was born in 1966 in a town called Tell Tamer in northeastern Syria and currently lives in Turkey. Omar Souleyman’s sound is based on Dabke, a modern Eastern Mediterranean Arab folk circle dance of probable Canaanite or Phoenician origin.
Souleyman has become a worldwide phenomenon in contemporary world music and electronic music spheres, although he started his career as a wedding singer in Syria. He has released over 500 studio and live albums.
Artists like Björk, Four Tet (who produced his acclaimed album Wenu Wenu), Modeselektor and Gilles Peterson have worked with Souleyman.
Souleyman’s songs were first introduced to Western audiences through the compilation albums on the Sublime Frequencies record label. Since then, he has performed at major music festivals in Europe and North America.
Thornato, the artistic name of American producer Thor Partridge, takes the listener on a global electronica voyage across the Americas, southern Africa and the Middle East.
Using seductive electronic and acoustic dance rhythms based on Colombian cumbia, Jamaican dancehall, Central and South African beats, South Asian rhythms, and mesmerizing marimbas from Esmeraldas in Ecuador.
Even though Thornato produces a lot of the melodies and electronic global dance music, he features various guests throughout the album such as Afro-Esmeraldan band Grupo Taribo, African dance music collective Kongo elektro, Colombian vocalist Lido Pimienta, dancehall singer Gappy Ranks, and the Arabic oud of Spy From Cairo.
Bennu is an impressive global electronica debut album beautifully-crafted by Thornato.
Buy Bennu (available on CD, vinyl and digital download versions)
Vataff Project is a Bulgarian act that brilliantly mixes trance and ambient electronics with traditional musical instruments. Electronic music artist Victor Marinov is behind the project. He provides the electronic atmospheres, beats, samples and effects. He’s joined by three additional musicians who add a tasty world music vibe to the recording.
One of the guests is Veselin Mitev on duduk. The duduk by itself always sounds exotic and mesmeric. Here, the duduk is processed to sound even more mysterious and fascinating.
The other two guests are Anton Karadimchev on vocals and guitar; and Rossen Zahariev on flugelhorn.
Vataff has several meanings. One of them is leader or guide. In Bulgarian folk tradition the leader of the kalushar dancers is also called vataff. The vataff are considered the successors of an ancient privileged society of warriors, whose frontrunners most likely were initiated in a religious cult and had the capacity to heal through particular music as part of certain rituals.
Solьmen is a finely-crafted album that brings together cutting edge electronica, Bulgarian folklore and shamanic world music influences.
Natacha Atlas was born in Belgium, the daughter of an Egyptian father and an English mother. Natacha grew up in the Moroccan suburbs of Brussels, becoming fluent in French, Spanish, Arabic and English, immersing herself in Arabic culture, Egyptian “shaabi” pop and learning from childhood the raks sharki (belly dance) techniques that she uses during her spectacular live performances.
Even more remarkable than Natacha’s dance moves is her unmistakable voice, rich in nuance and grounded in Arabic music.
Natacha moved to England as a teenager and became Northampton’s first Arabic rock singer. Since then has involved herself in a wide variety of musical projects. Dividing her time between the UK and Brussels, she sang in a variety of Arabic and Turkish nightclubs, and spent a brief period in a Belgian salsa band called Mandanga. As she commuted between Northampton and Brussels, however, she began to attract the attention of the Balearic beat crew ¡Loca! and Jah Wobble, who was then assembling his Invaders of the Heart. Wobble was looking for an wide-ranging Middle Eastern singer and fell in love with her voice.
In 1991, both these projects became a reality. Timbal by ¡Loca! started out as a track on Nation Records’ Fuse Two compilation and became a massive dance club hit, while Wobble’s http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000007641/musidelmund-20/002-7906139-4219234?%5Fencoding=UTF8&camp=1789&link%5Fcode=xm2 | Rising Above Bedlam – five tracks which Natasha co-wrote – attracted much critical acclaim and a Mercury award nomination.
The success of Timbal consolidated Natacha’s relationship with the ground-breaking Nation Label, who introduced her to TransGlobal Underground (TGU), at that time enjoying Top 40 success with http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000DEO0/musidelmund-20/002-7906139-4219234?%5Fencoding=UTF8&camp=1789&link%5Fcode=xm2 | Templehead.
First guesting with TransGlobal Underground in 1991, Natacha became two years later a member of the core quartet of TransGlobal Underground, as lead singer and belly-dancer. A couple of years later, it was TransGlobal Underground’s Tim Whelan, Hamid ManTu and Nick Page (a.k.a. Count Dubulah, who helped her to make her first solo album, Diaspora.
Diaspora came out in the summer of 1995 to critical acclaim. Natacha combined the dubby, rhythmic-driven global dance of her longtime associates Transglobal Underground, with the more traditional work of Arabic musicians like Tunisian singer-songwriter Walid Rouissi and Egyptian composer and ud master Essam Rashad. The result was a collection of songs of love and yearning that genuinely fused West and East.
On her second LP, Halim, Natacha explored further her deeply felt affinity with Arabic musical heritage.
In parallel with the success of her solo albums she remained a full-time Transglobal Underground member, and Transglobal Underground composed her backing band, until they left Nation Records in 1999, and they have remained allies throughout her subsequent career. Atlas has appeared on most TGU albums and its members are usually involved in the production of her solo albums.
1997’s Halim followed, and then Gedida in 1999 , both creatively and naturally fusing Middle Eastern and European styles, and delighting an ever-increasing audience in both territories.
In 2000, Natacha released The Remix Collection, in which material from the first three albums was reworked by a variety of remixers, including Talvin Singh, Banco de Gaia, Youth, 16B, Klute, the Bullitnuts, TJ Rehmi, Spooky and Transglobal Underground.
Natacha’s fourth album Ayeshteni was released in 2001.
2002’s album, Natacha Atlas and Marc Eagleton Project’s Foretold in the Language of Dreams, was a considerable divergence. No beats; a calm recording, involving a slightly smaller group of musicians than normal, including Syrian qanun master Abdullah Chhadeh, whom Natacha married in 1999.
Aside from her own projects, Natacha remains very much in demand as a guest singer for the recordings and performances of a remarkably wide range of musicians, including Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook, the Indigo Girls, FunDaMental, Ghostland, Abdel Ali Slimani, Toires, !Loca, Musafir, Sawt El Atlas, Franco Battiato, Juno Reactor, Dhol Foundation, Jah Wobble, Jaz Coleman, Apache Indian (on his chart hit Arranged Marriage), Mick Karn, Jean-Michel Jarre’s Millennium Night spectacular at the Pyramids, Jonathan Demme’s film The Truth About Charlie, and David Arnold’s film scores including Stargate and Die Another Day.
Natacha Atlas spent a lot of time in her father’s homeland, Egypt. There, she worked with members of Transglobal Underground and Egyptian musicians. Her album, Ayeshteni, was recorded and composed there.
In 2003, she released Something Dangerous, a solo album of contrasts and collaborations, in which she injected Middle Eastern music into UK pop, pulling in dance music, rap, drum’n’bass, R&B, Hindi pop, film music and French chanson.
On Something Dangerous (2003), Atlas not only combined more styles than ever, but for the first time on an Atlas album it featured guest vocalists, and more singing in English than she did before. There is a collaboration with English composer Jocelyn Pook (who, among other things, created the score for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut), it has Atlas’ Arabic vocal lushly surrounded by Pook’s western classical orchestration for the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Another guest is West Indian Princess Julianna, whom Atlas met when they were both guesting with Temple of Sound.
On the Arabic side, Atlas used Abdullah Chhadeh and one of Egypt’s finest shaabi trumpet players, the late Sami El Babli (deceased in a car crash shortly after the recording), to whom the track is dedicated. Atlas and Sinead O’Connor, who last recorded together on John Reynolds’, Justin Adams’ and Caroline Dale’s 2002 Ghostland album, trade aphorisms in ‘Simple Heart”.
With Mish Maoul (MNTCD 1038), released in April 2006, Atlas’ career came full circle to touch base with her roots.
The new album returned to the music she grew up hearing in the Moroccan suburb of Brussels, particularly when the Golden Sound Studio Orchestra of Cairo makes its entrance. It also reunited her again with Temple of Sound’s Nick Page (aka Count Dubulah), with whom she first worked in Transglobal Underground and who helped produce her very first solo album Diaspora.
Global electronica artist Nick DeSimone, better known as Nickodemus, developed his skill as resident DJ for Giant Step-produced events in New York City from 1995 – 1999. Nickodemus provided support DJ sets for live concerts from Gil Scott Heron, Jazzmattazz, The Pharcyde, Mos Def & Kweli, KRS-One, Us 3, Thievery Corporation, Groove Collective, Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers, Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti.
In 1998, Nickodemus became resident DJ and producer for Turntables on the Hudson (TOTH) – one of the first late night outdoor events in New York City. The party was known for its eclectic musical blend of funk, house, hip hop and soul played along with Latin, Afrobeat and Eastern European gypsy sounds.
The Turntables on the Hudson parties took place every Friday at the Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City, Queens overlooking Manhattan and the East River.
Nickodemus’ style is known for adding something a bit more musical and spiritual to the mix, incorporating real culture and social themes.
In 2009 he released Sun People, on Thievery Corporation’s label, ESL Music. Sun People was made with songs made for people who love the sun, sunshine and brighter days to come. Songs were inspired by various people Nickodemus met and places he visited, along with his collective feelings of optimism. “Sun People makes the best of every situation. When that sun peaks out in the sky, it’s another day to feel and do something positive,” says Nickodemus.
Sun People mixes positive sonic vibrations from various parts of the world, with collaborators from various countries, including Guinea, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Romania, India, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
Born in London in 1964, producer, keyboardist, guitarist and DJ Nitin Sawhney is one of England’s most creative producer/musicians. Sawhney has become a latter-day Renaissance man in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theater.
He has remixed for Paul McCartney and Sting, written for Sinead O’Connor, and produced part of an album from Algerian rai star Cheb Mami. His own recordings are remarkable Anglo-Indian fusion creations.
Sawhney’s success has been unusual. After studying law at Liverpool University he joined his flatmate Sanjeev Bhaskar in creating a comedy double act, The Secret Asians, that spoofed British racial attitudes and undermined Indian stereotypes. It led to a BBC radio contract, and ultimately to the hit BBC TV comedy series, Goodness, Gracious Me.
Linking up with an old school friend, English acid-jazz keyboardist James Taylor, Sawhney joined his band, then quickly created his own group, The Jazztones. A collaboration with fellow Indian tabla/producer Talvin Singh, as The Tihai Trio, inevitably saw Sawhney linked with England’s emerging “Asian Underground” movement, a term Sawhney himself rejects.
On his album Prophesy, Sawhney utilizes the guest talents of world music icons Natacha Atlas, Trilok Gurtu, Cheb Mami and Mandawuy Yunupingu, amongst others, as well as a voice snippets from a Chicago cab driver, bluesman Terry Callier and Nelson Mandela. Carefully crafting the mix, Sawhney creates a smoothly seductive combination of pop, jazz, R&B, flamenco and sound collage.
Novalima is a collective of four Lima-based producers: Ramón Pérez Prieto, Rafael Morales, Carlos Li Carrillo and Grimaldo del Solar. They combine the rich musical traditions of Peru with subtle electronic textures, bass tones and drums. The result is a fascinating percussive framework that includes acoustic musical instruments along with cutting edge digital sounds.
Novalima uses traditional instruments such as the native cajón, quijada, and congas to compliment programmed beats, funk-inspired bass lines, and contemporary piano melodies.
The founders of Novalima became friends while in high school in Lima. The children of artists and intellectuals, Ramón, Grimaldo, Rafael and Carlos were well-educated and well-traveled, and while they grew up listening to the popular and folk music of Latin America, they also shared a fascination for rock, pop, reggae, salsa, dance and electronic music.
Novalima developed with the help of modern technology. The group came was formed parts of the world. From their homes in London, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Lima, they started emailing song ideas to each other. These long-distance experiments resulted in their 2002 debut album, the self-titled Novalima.
The reception to the album exceeded their wildest expectations, eventually reaching platinum sales status in Peru, and for their next album they invited more Afro-Peruvian musicians to join their recording sessions, including Nicomedes Santa Cruz, Lucila Campos, Lucha Reyes and Zambo Cavero,. The result was Afro, an album that was released worldwide in 2006 to remarkable acclaim and put Novalima on the international music map.
The founders of Novalima have since returned to Lima and invited some of their favorite Afro-Peruvian musicians to become permanent members of their band: Juan Medrano Cotito, Mangüe Vasquez, Milagros Guerrero and Marcos Mosquera, as well as Constantino Alvarez, a renowned local drummer and percussionist.
The partnership between the original cosmopolitan quartet and members of the Afro-Peruvian community has generated a lot of attention at home, principally because the divide between black and white in Peru has made these types of collaborations rare.
On their album Coba Coba, Novalima expanded on the formula they developed with their two previous recordings, while taking their fusion in new directions. The album’s title is derived from an Afro-Peruvian expression used to incite musicians, much like shouting “Go for it!” or “Take it!” to a musician in the midst of a great solo.
On Coba Coba, Novalima explores further into the African roots of Afro-Peruvian music, bringing in influences from its Afro-rooted musical cousins such as reggae, dub, salsa, hip-hop, afrobeat and Cuban son. They took a more organic approach this time around, and the songs more accurately reflected the live sound of the band, thanks to time spent working together as an actual band rather than a studio project.
The 2012 Karimba takes the listener on a trip through the history and travels of Afro-rooted music.
République Amazone (Amazon Republic) brings together some of West Africa’s best female singers with highly percussive electronic music.
While the women provide the lead and background vocals, Irish producer Liam Farrell, also known as Doctor L, contributes most of the instruments in the form of electronic bass and beats. The focus is on powerful, deep bass sounds, developing a hybrid sound that combines traditional world music vocals and club-style dance beats.
Les Amazones d’Afrique (the African amazons) include Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Nneka, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné.
Additional instrumentalists on some of the songs include Mouneissa Tandina on drums, Mamadou Diakité on guitar, Harouna Samaké on kamele ngoni, Vincent Courtois on cello, Patrick Ruffino on bass.
For about 4 years Alyona Minulina has been known as Alyona FolkBeat – a beautiful folk singer and beatbox musician from a rising star group FolkBeat. In February 2017 Russian label FireStorm production released their new album “I’m marching on my own” that was recorded and produced by Alyona but at the same time their fans were shocked by news about her leaving the project. Alyona tells us what happened and what’s next.
Q:How did the group FolkBeat get started?
Alyona Minulina: FolkBeat grew up from a student’s ensemble. It was called differently and consisted of a large number of participants. Later I began to study beatbox and electronic music, so I thought it was interesting to combine it with Russian folk songs. So FolkBeat has traditional Slavic polyphony, surrounded by electronic arrangement, which is close to the styles of EDM trap, dubstep, trance and crunk. The compositions are often performed with beatbox – imitation of drum machines and music effects using vocal apparatus and articulation organs.
Q: How would you describe your musical journey so far?
AM: When we started we made music for ourselves and gradually our music started to be interesting to other people. We didn’t think about genres, we were passionate about making music with each other, it was really awesome. When we went on stage the audience felt our special energy.
Q: Did you perform in Europe or only in Russia?
AM: In 2016 Folkbeat took part at EuroRadio Festival and had a concert in Viljandi (Estonia). Besides this we visited Madrid, Munich, Athens and Tallinn with festival of Russian cultural FeelRussia.
Q: As I know – you love collaborating with different music genres and bands: what are the features of Russian folk music that makes it possible for you to collaborate with other musicians?
AM: The most interesting thing for me is the fact that people connect with each other, share cultures, and different genres and traditions mix too. Now I have plans to record some songs together with the master of throat singing Alexei Chichakov from Mountain Altai. This will be the connection of his own Altai traditions and Slavic melodies.
In every collaboration I’m looking for special feeling when the spark runs between musicians (chemistry in our relationship), because then, every performance becomes memorable for listeners. This is the highlight for me. Of course with Folkbeat we often had this feeling. When the head is full with ideas – I always find the way to realize them. But sometimes I get tired and I need to allow some rest for myself. This is the most difficult thing for me.
Q: What music instruments do you use?
AM: Different electronic things (loop station, keyboards), sometimes folk wind instruments like kugikly and kaliuk, khomus.
Q: What can you tell us about the contemporary Russian folk scene?
AM: Despite the fact that the Russian folk scene is a real “folk star” and a budding young musicians, it hasn’t been formed yet. We do not have enough support and solidarity between each other. Although we have more opportunities for advancement than 10 years ago.
Q: How are your albums being received by audiences?
AM: Our first album «Joyful meeting» became favorite Russian-folk album on EBU Folk Festival in 2016. In Russia it was in the top twenty music albums of 2016. This year we released the album «Sama idu» (I’m marching on my own). We collaborated with different electronic musicians and DJs, so it can be classified as pop-folk.
Q: Who would you say are the leading influences in your musical career?
AM: My teachers, who always said something like this: pull yourself and work, work hard, if you really love it.
Q: So what happened to FolkBeat?
AM: With Folkbeat we are friends, but we do not work together anymore. If the world gives us a chance to sing together again, I will take this chance.
Now I work on original songs album with the texts of famous Russian poets from XX century. And together with Jewish, Armenian, Russian musicians and composer from Canada, Ivan Popov, we have created a world music project “Under The Same Sky” which intertwined tunes and melodies of different national cultures. In March we will have a concert of Slavic-Jewish music.
Q: Are Russian audiences, venues, labels and artists open to collaboration?
AM: It depends on various factors, but if you play interesting music, you can always find a way.
Q: Where do you see yourself 10 or 15 years from today?
AM: I see myself chewing pasta in my favorite little pizzeria in Italy, resting in a cozy wooden house on the Solovetsky Islands in Russia, and playing my set at the Burning Man.
Q: Do you also teach workshops for students and musicians?
AM: I opened vocal beatbox and body percussion workshops named “Pulse” in Moscow recently and it’s getting popular. I have a lot of new ideas and projects in my head and I hope my music experience with FolkBeat will help me to create something really unique and internationally interesting.
Bajofondo Tango Club was put together by Rock en español musician and producer Gustavo Santaolalla, winner of two-time Academy Awards and Golden Globe-winning composer of Brokeback Mountain and Babel. It is a collective of artists and musicians creating an array of music based on the fusion of electronica (dub, house, drum&bass) with the traditional sounds of tango.
Bajofondo Tango Club quickly caused a stir in Argentina’s music underground and the world at large. The debut album, Bajofondo Tango Club, certified platinum in Argentina soon after its release in 2003, won the prestigious Premio Gardel for Best Electronica Album and a Latin Grammy as Best Pop Instrumental Album.
After sold-out performances in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, the collective was invited to tour Europe in July 2004 with unforgettable performances at Roskilde Festival (Denmark), across Eastern Europe, Spain, London (UK) and beyond. What began as a music project became an amazing touring group of musicians, DJs and visuals.
The members of Bajofondo Tango Club come from the worlds of tango and electronic music. The original members were: Gustavo Santaolalla (Argentina), Juan Campodonico (Uruguay), Marcelo Castelli (Uruguay), Emilio Kauderer (Argentina), Juan Blas (Argentina), Didi Gutman (Argentina), Luciano Supervielle (Uruguay), Jorge Drexler (Uruguay), Adrian Iaies (Argentina), Pablo Mainetti (Argentina) and Javier Casalla (Argentina).
The band shortened the name to Bajofondo after they felt their musical genre had broadened. As on their earlier recordings, their Mar Dulce album sees Bajofondo’s musicians lead listeners through a sensual soundscape of tango, trip-hop, drum & bass and pop elements that redefine the essence of tango for the 21st century. Mar Dulce features guest performances by Elvis Costello, Nelly Furtado, Julieta Venegas, Gustavo Cerati, Ryota Komatsu, La Mala Rodriguez, Santullo, Juan Subira and the final recorded performance by legendary Uruguayan tango diva Lagrima Rios.
“With Bajofondo,” says Santaolalla, “we don’t like the label ‘electronic tango’ because we try to make a contemporary music of Rio de la Plata (the river that forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay) music from Argentina, from Uruguay. Obviously, if you want to do music that comes from there or represents that part of the world tango is going to be part of it – but, in our case, so is rock ‘n’ roll, electronica and hip hop. Hopefully a new language, not pure tango.”
On Mar Dulce, Bajofondo was comprised of Gustavo Santaolalla on guitar, percussion, and vocals; Juan Campodónico on programming, beats, samples and guitar; Luciano Supervielle on piano, keyboards and scratch; Javier Casalla on violin; Martín Ferrés on bandoneon; Gabriel Casacuberta on upright bass and electric bass; Adrián Sosa on drums; and Verónica Loza as VJ and on vocals.