Tag Archives: Balkan Beat Box

Artist Profiles: Ori Kaplan

Ori Kaplan (center) with Balkan Beat Box

Ori Kaplan studied Klezmer clarinet in Jaffa at age 11, yet was exposed to the Arabic culture around him. Each week he would sneak into an Arabic/Turkish nightclub next door to the punk rock club where he played with his band DXM. Ori says, “?The energy at the Turkish club was unabashed, on fire. The punk rock club was more self-conscious: youth trying to define itself, emulate the West.”

Ori emigrated to the USA, earning a BFA at Mannes College. In New York City, Ori recorded albums for various music labels and bands. Ori received the Jerome Foundation Award for Young Jazz Composers 2001.

He joined the acclaimed band Gogol Bordello (Gypsy Punk cabaret) that spearheaded the Eastern European cultural revolution that took place in New York City. He played with Firewater since 1998, and has collaborated and recorded with Susie Ibarra, Speedball Baby, Big Lazy, J.U.F., Victoria Hanna, John Zorn, Vision Orchestra, and William Parker.

He is one of the founders of Balkan Beat Box.

Discography:

Gongol (2001)
Delirium
Goldshmidt (Third Ear Records)
Cries of Disillusion
Realms
Le Magus (Knitting Factory, 2002)
Multi Kontra Culti, with Gogol Bordello (Rubric Records)
Man on the Burning Tightrope, with Firewater (Jetset Records)
JUF (Stinky Records)
Beat Box (Essay Recordings)
Nu Med (Jdub Records)
Blue Eyed Black Boy (Crammed Discs, 2010)
Give (Crammed Discs, 2012)

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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)

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