Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Veronika Bulycheva

Veronika Bulycheva

Russian singer, guitarist and composer Veronika Bulycheva was born in the Ural region of Russia. In 1992, she emigrated to Paris. After many years of successful artistic career fate brought her with a wonderful instrumental ensemble Emerald from Ekaterinburg, representing traditional “balalaika-rock” in the spirit of Balkan-styled carelessly-drunken music.

She sings in Russian and in French, sometimes combining both languages. Her lyrics describe talk about women and immigrants, simple scenarios in which basic human emotions are expressed: love, nature, nostalgia and exile. She incorporates blues, pop, bossa nova, French chanson and north African rhythms, all colored by jazz, classical and traditional Russian sonorities.

Discography:

Demoiselle Cygne (1998)
Tout ira bien (2004)
SPACIBA, merci.. (Sketis Music, 2008)
От всего сердца – De Tout Coeur (Artsmusic, 2011)
Voyage de l’Oural à Paris, Volume 1 (Sketis Music SKMR-095, 2012)
Of the Ural (Sketis Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Darmas

Darmas

Six young musicians formed Darmas, a band propelled by the rhythms they derive from traditional Malay classics like the Joget (a traditional Malay dance from Malacca influenced by the Portuguese colonial dance of Branyo), Zapin (a Malay dance found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) and the Canggung (Malay dance with Thai influences).

The central element in Darmas’ sound comes from the kulintangan, an ancient series of gongs from the Sabah tribes, presenting a kaleidoscope mix of Malaysian eclectic sounds.

Darmas released its debut album “Teja” in 2019.

Discography:

Teja (2019)

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Artist Profiles: At Adau

At Adau

Malaysian ensemble At Adau was formed in June 2014. They perform ancient melodies and rhythms from the different tribes in Borneo fused with contemporary elements.

The group mixes sape lute tunes from the Orang Ulu  and  traditional percussion from the Bidayuh and Iban with their own arrangements to deliver a modern folk  medley of songs that have made them a big cult figure in the local Sarawak scene in the last few years.

At Adau were winners of the Waterfront Music Festival 2016, Best Special Talent 2015, Best short movie in 2015 for “Pimonu” and 2017 for “Ajen Oku”.

Band members include Meldrick Bob Udos on jembe, Iban drum, percussionist and drum set; Ezra Tekola on 4 and 6-string sape; Luke Wrender David on 4 and 3-string sape; Jackson Lian Ngau on perutong, Bidayuh drum and bass drum; Cedric Riseng on guitar; and Alfanso Mckenzie on bass.

Discography:

Journey (2016)
Oba (2019)

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Artist Profiles: Mehdi Nassouli

Mehdi Nassouli – Photo by Hicham

Mehdi Nassouli was born in Tarudant, southern Morocco, engaged in Gnawa culture. A phenomenal musical talent, he learned to play various musical instruments at an early age, becoming especially passionate about the three-stringed Gnawa bass lute, the guembri (also known as sentir and hajjuj).

Before launching his international career, Mehdi Nassouli spent a decade traveling throughout Morocco, studying the diverse regional musical traditions under some of the leading musicians in the area. In southern morocco, Mehdi learned Malhoune poetic arts and Deqqa folkloric percussion.

Introduced to the international world music scene by festival director Brahim El Mazned, Mehdi now has many projects and international collaborations, and also leads many different types of bands.

Receptive to the fusion of musical genres, he has collaborated with many leading international artists. He worked together with French guitarist Titi Robin for five years, including the 2012 Les Rives project and their joint 2015 album Taziri.  Nassouli has performed with Fatoumata Diawara, Benjamin Taubkin, Justin Adams, Herbie Hancock and Alpha Blondy, mixing traditional African, Amazigh (Berber) and Gnawa music with sounds of the wider world.

In 2016, Mehdi showcased at the World Music Expo held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Discography:

Taziri (World Village, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Alex Caton

Alex Caton

Alex Caton grew up in England, Scotland and the East Coast of the United States. She first put a bow in her hands at the age of four and played violin through her college years at Binghamton University. As her interest in Irish and Old Time music grew, she changed her tunes (and her instrument name) and began playing and teaching fiddle on the side. But it wasn’t until she moved to the Charlottesville, Virginia area to work on a PhD in Anthropology that she found her true calling.

Alex fell in love with the music scene in Charlottesville and soon cast aside her career as a professional archaeologist (she worked up and down the East Coast of the United States, as well as in West Africa) to focus on fiddle music full-time.

Since 2001, Alex has lived in Gordonsville, Virginia, teaching Irish, Old Time and Gypsy music out of her home and playing with a wide variety of local groups including the Irish band, The Ryegrass Rollers.

Alex Caton

In 2003, Alex founded the all-girl gypsy group Las Gitanas, a precursor to Verbunk, the “groovy gypsy” band she started in 2007. But gypsy music didn’t replace Alex’s love for Old Time and Irish music—it just enhanced what she brought to the other Charlottesville groups she played in: Odd Legged Jenny (Irish-Americana), The Two Dollar Bills (Old Time) and an acoustic roots duo with Chris Leva, lead singer and guitarist for the Guano Boys.

In 2005, Alex started a fiddle camp held one weekend in August at the Brazenhead Inn in Mingo, West Virginia. What started as a small group of interested students has grown into a popular gathering for adults and children, beginners and pros, where Alex teaches different fiddle styles and other instructors come to share their expertise in guitar, bass, banjo Irish drum, voice and dance.

Alex’s self-titled CD was released June 7th, 2007 at the Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville. Chris Leva plus aclaimed vocalist and guitarist Pat Egan were just a couple of talented musicians who joined Alex on stage.

Alex Caton

From her base in Central Virginia, Alex Caton has a custom-built barn/music studio for classes and concerts, a coop full of chickens and huge garden.

Discography:

Alex Caton (2007)
The Sinners and the Saved (2009)
Swimming to Lindsey (2013)
Never Take a Daisy Down the Mine (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Solju

Solju

Solju is a Finnish group led by Ulla Pirttijärvi-Länsman and her daughter Hilda Länsman. They are Sámi musicians from Utsjoki, Lapland, which is the northernmost municipality in Finland.

Ulla and Hilda bring together their heritage of northern Sámi language and traditional chant, known as yoik, with a desire for new and innovative music, providing a dialogue of traditional and modern Sámi culture.

Solju

Solju’s debut album “Odda Áigodat” (New Times) was released in April 2018. In May 2019, Ođđa Áigodat won an award in Canada, The Indigenous Music Awards (IMA) – Best International Indigenous Release 2019.

Hildá Länsman is also a member of Finnish duo VILDÁ, featuring accordionist Viivi Maria Saarenkylä.

Discography:

Odda Áigodat (Bafe’s Factory, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: VILDÁ

VILDÁ

VILDÁ is a Finnish duo that performs a unique mix of mystical joiks and sounds of the Sami people together with vibrant accordion. VILDÁ includes Hildá Länsman on vocals, joik, frame drum; and
Viivi Maria Saarenkylä on accordion and backing vocals.

When Hildá and Viivi listened to each other’s music for the first time, they came up with the idea of combining traditional yoik and accordion.

Hildá Länsman is a rising yoik singer from Utsjoki who has performed at the New Music Competition and at the Helsinki Music House’s great concert arena. She won the Risteys (Crossroads) award for her vocals at Finland’s first Ethno Gala in 2017.

VILDÁ

Viivi Maria Saarenkylä is an internationally acclaimed accordion player. She was declared accordionist of the Year in Finland in 2018.

Arctic fells, frosty winds, wide waters and deep forests. That is our home – the North. For us it is the birthplace of our attitude as well as many memories, a source of inspiration, stories and tradition, a vast play ground full of endless trails to travel. “

Discography:

Vildaluodda / Wildprint (Bafe’s Factory, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: The Heptones

The Heptones

The Heptones are one of reggae’s legendary groups, led by the charismatic Leroy Sibbles along with Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn. They became huge hitmakers while at the top Jamaican label, Studio One. After recording numerous rock steady anthems, they were also one of the few groups to make a successful transition from rock steady to reggae.

Deep in the Roots, released in 2004 was recorded at Kingston’s famed Channel One Studio by top roots producer Niney the Observer, with backing by the Soul Syndicate band. Features previously-unreleased extended mixes, plus rare tracks.

Co-founder Barry Llewellyn died on November 23, 2011, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Discography:

The Heptones (Studio One, 1967)
On Top (Studio One, 1968)
Black is Black (Studio One, 1970)
Freedom Line (Studio One, 1971)
Book of Rules (Jaywax, 1973)
Cool Rasta (Trojan Records, 1976)
Night Food (Island Records, 1976)
Party Time (Island Records, 977)
Better Days (Third World, 1978)
Good Life ( Greensleeves Records, 1979)
King Of My Town (Jackal Records, 1979)
Mr. Skabeana (Cha Cha Music, 1980)
One Step Ahead (Sonic Sounds, 1981)
On The Run (Shanachie, 1982)
Back on Top (Vista Sounds, 1983)
In A Dancehall Style (Vista Sounds, 1983)
Swing Low (Burning Sounds, 1985)
Changing Times (Moving Target, 1986)
A Place Called Love (Moving Target, 1987)
Sing Good Vibes (1988)
Mr. “T” (1991)
Observer’s Style (1994)
Pressure! (Real Authentic Sound, 1995)
Rebel Love (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Julio Antonio Montoro Curbelo

Julio Antonio Montoro Curbelo

Producer, composer and guitarist Julio Antonio Montoro Curbelo Julio studied the Cuban tres as well as the guitar at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Havana. He graduated in 1991.

While at school, he performed in jazz festivals playing with various bands. In 1993 he joined the group of singer Mireya Escalante on keyboard and guitar and also as musical director.

In 1996 he joined the group Kemell y la Barriada as pianist, recording several albums and participated in various international tours. He toured Europe with several Cuban ensembles, including Reve, Charanga Habanera, and later joined Felix Baloy of Afro-Cuban All Stars.

Since 2013 he has worked with Edesio Alejando and his son Cristian performing in Cuba and producing music television and film scores.

In 2014, Julio Antonio became the musical director and arranger of the band Tomezclao. They toured the UK, performed at Glastonbury festival and produced 3 CDs for Tumi Music.

He has worked as the guitarist with vocalist Laritza Bacallao, performing at the “Cuba Mucho Gusto” festival in Brasilia, Brazil. While in Brazil, he also worked with the famous Brazilian pianist Joao Donato at Club Do Choro.

In 2014 Julio Antonio released his debut album Alma Latina with Tumi Music. This was quickly followed by the CD Guajira Mas Guajira with Eliades Ochoa. In 2017 he set up his Alma Latina Studio, where he recorded albums for Candido Fabre, Reina y Real, Arturo Jorge among others.

In 2017, he participated as the guitarist and tres player in the CD “Tronco Viejo” with Johnny Ventura and also worked with Silvio Rodriguez.

In 2018 he recorded the “Black Roots” album.

He currently lives in Havana with his daughter “Sady” and his wife. His daughter, 4 years old at the time, contributed towards the Black Roots CD.

Discography:

Alma Latina (Tumi Music, 2014)
Guajira Mas Guajira (Tumi, 2015)
Black Roots (Tumi, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Gasper Nali

Gasper Nali

Malawian one-man-act Gasper Nali is a Kwela roots musician from the small town of Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. He plays a one-string, home-made, 3-meter long Babatoni bass guitar with a stick and an empty beer bottle, along with a cow skin kick drum. With this arrangement, he creates amazing, dance-inducing Afro Beats.

Gasper Nali’s unique style of music has received an extraordinary amount of online attention after a video of him playing by the lake shore went viral with more than 18 million views. He has been featured by CNN, jammed with Joss Stone, appeared on Wired for Sound – Malawi, and has also been featured on BBC 6 Music.

Discography:

Abale Ndikuwuzeni ‎(Spare Dog Records, 2015)
Zoona Malawi ‎(Spare Dog Records, 2017)

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