Vocalist, daf player and experimentalist Dina El Wedidi was born on October 1, 1987 in Giza, Egypt.
She performed traditional Egyptian folk music with the Warsha Theater Troupe and Habaybena band. Grounded in these roots, she produces music that is familiar and relevant for Egyptians, but at the same time incorporates other musical forms. Her participation in these projects unavoidably led her to write her own music, and in 2011, she took the essential next step in her career and formed her own band. From there, her success has soared, not only gaining her stardom in Egypt, but a fan base internationally.
Beginning in 2012, Dina joined The Nile Project. Her experience collaborating with musicians from 11 East African countries introduced her to a larger musical world, and since then she has incorporated elements of these cultures, specifically Ethiopian, into her music. She is featured on the first two Nile Project albums, Aswan (2013) and Jinja (2014).
That same year, she was chosen by Gilberto Gil and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative as a protégé. In 2014, Dina released her debut album Turning Back (Tedawar W’Tergaa), which she described as New Arab Folk.
On Turning Back, Dina El Wedidi uses the iarghul, a rare reed instrument from Upper Egypt that El Wedidi learned to play.
Over the past years, Dina has followed a very different artistic track, symbolically and literally, drifting from the music that earned her success. Fundamentally, this meant exploring the world of music production to increase her skills outside of singing and songwriting. This route also introduced another new, and even less common instrument to Dina: trains.
Her album Slumber features the collected sounds of railways, train stations, train whistles and rails in Egypt. She processed these sounds electronically, creating a dream-like and beautiful sound landscape around her own voice, at times like a symphony, taking the listener on a journey that passes seven stations. The title “Slumber” refers to her vision of this listening experience as a dream.
The 30-minute voyage is like a short nap crossing seven stations, in which Dina tells hallucinatory stories.
“I believe I have the freedom to talk about anything in my music,” said El Wedidi. “When I want to sing about something, I do. The reality is that ‘the street’ talks about many things, and I’m inspired by the people on the street.”
The son of a Lebanese father and a Sicilian mother, Gismonti was born in 1947 in the small Brazilian town of Carmo. He studied piano from the age of five and learned, initially, to play and compose music in the European tradition. In Paris, he studied with Nadia Boulanger and with composer Jean Barraqué (1928-1973) whose severe and fanatically-complex serial music is far removed from the joyous energies of Gismonit’s subsequent work. Boulanger encouraged him to make musical use of his heritage.
Back in Brazil, he turned his attention to local choro music and the guitar.Coming late to the guitar, Gismonti brought to the instrument the virtuosity that characterized his piano playing. Two-handed interweaving of independent lines, fast runs, dramatic bass registers and rapid ostinati are part of his technique. Originally playing classical guitar, he switched to an 8-string instrument in 1973, gradually working his way up to a 10 and 14 string instruments that he designed himself.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Gismonti was involved in many cross-cultural projects with musicians of other nationalities, of which the trio albums with Haden and Garbarek are the most enduring.
Better known as a jazz guitarist outside of Brazil, Gismonti recorded several innovative keyboard based albums in the 1980s. In some cases it was pure electronic music. In others, he combined advanced technology with acoustic instruments. Some of these outstanding recordings, Fantasia, Cidade Coracao, have not been available outside of Brazil
In the 1990s, however, he recommitted himself wholeheartedly to the Brazilian cause. “In the end you have to decide whether you want to be involved forever in ‘cultural exchange’ or if you want to try and develop your own culture.”
In the late 1990s, Gismonti composed symphonic pieces. He worked with the Lithuanian Symphony Orchestra for the recording of his Meeting Point album.
In 2009, Egberto Gismonti released the double album Saudações. Egberto Gismonti explained: “Saudações means greetings, salutations, saludos, saluti. The greetings followed a long absence on record, marking his first appearance on ECM Records in 14 years. Although he had been active as a touring musician in the interim and continued to produce recordings by other artists for his Brazilian Carmo label (Saudações was a co-production of ECM and Carmo). On disc one, Gismonty presented the seven-part suite “Sertões Veredas,” recorded in Havana with the acclaimed Camaerata Romeu, and disc two, a program of guitar duets and solos, recorded in Rio de Janeiro with Egberto and his son Alexandre.
Egberto Gismonti (Elenco, 1969)
Sonho ’70 (Polydor, 1970)
Orfeo Novo (MPS, 1970)
Água e Vinho (EMI-Odeon, 1972)
Egberto Gismonti (EMI-Odeon, 1973)
Árvore (Decca/ECM, 1973)
Academia de Danças (EMI, 1974)
Corações Futuristas (Odeon, 1976)
Carmo (EMI, 1977) Dança das Cabeças (ECM, 1977) with Naná Vasconcelos
Nó Caipira (Odeon, 1978) Sol do Meio Dia (ECM, 1978)
Solo (ECM, 1979)
Mágico (ECM, 1979) with Charlie Haden and Jan Garbarek
Folk Songs (ECM, 1981) with Charlie Haden and Jan Garbarek Sanfona (ECM, 1981) solo and with Academia de Dancas
Em Família (EMI, 1981)
Cidade Coração (1983)
Bandeira do Brasil (1984)
Duas Vozes (ECM, 1984)
Trem Caipira (ECM, 1985)
Live at Berlin Jazzbühne Jazz Festival (1984) Alma (1986)
O Pagador de Promessas (1988) Dança dos Escravos (ECM, 1989) Feixe de Luz (1988)
Presents a Musical Childhood with Infância (1990)
Amazônia (ECM, 1991)
Kuarup (Carmo, 1991)
Casa das Andorinhas (1992)
Música de Sobrevivência (1993)
Brasil Musical (1993)
Zig Zag (ECM, 1995)
Forrobodó (Carmo, 1996)
Violão (Carmo, 1996)
Meeting Point (ECM, 1997)
In Montreal (ECM, 2001) with Charlie Haden
Corações Futuristas (EMI, 2001)
Retratos (EMI, 2004) Saudações (ECM, 2009)
Mágico: Carta de Amor, with Jan Garbarek and Charlie Haden (ECM, 2012)
Gabrielle Roth was internationally recognized as the first woman to create tribal ambient music, and she did so for over two decades. Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors were also singled out as the first-ever group to bring drums into new age music, a truly innovative development at the time, thanks in part to Roth s teaching of experimental theater in New York based on The Roth 5 Rhythms and training others to use shamanic methods within artistic, education, and healing contexts.
An internationally renowned theater and music director, philosopher and movement innovator who created her own form of ecstatic dance, Gabrielle Roth was the best-selling author of Maps To Ecstasy (Nataraj), Sweat your Prayers (Tarcher/Penguin) and Connections (Tarcher/Penguin). Featured in Self, Elle, New York Magazine, Mademoiselle, New Age Journal, Body Mind Spirit, Shape and many other national publications, Gabrielle Roth s workshops and retreats had an electric intensity that fused contemporary music, modern theater and poetry to the ancient pulse of tribalism.
In the mid 1980s, she formed the New York City-based Raven Recording with her husband and co-producer Robert Ansell. Raven Recordings released over two dozen internationally-distributed albums (including 5 label compilations and 13 recordings by Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors) and six DVDs. Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors received an Association for Independent Music Indie Award nomination in 1994 for their recording, Luna.
Gabrielle Roth died on October 22, 2012.
Totem (Raven Recording, 1982)
Initiation (Raven, 1984)
Bones (Raven, 1989)
Ritual (Raven Recording, 1990)
Waves (Raven Recording, 1991)
Trance (Raven Recording, 1993)
Dancing Toward the One (Raven, 1994)
Luna (Raven Recording, 1994)
Tongues (Raven Recording, 1995)
Stillpoint (Raven Recording, 1996)
Zone Unknown (Raven Recording, 1997)
Refuge, with Boris Grebenshikov (Raven Recording, 1998)
Tribe (Raven Recording, 2000)
Endless Wave, Vol. 2 (Raven Recording, 2000)
Bardo, with Boris Grebenshikov (Raven Recording, 2002)
Yogafit: Music for Slow Flow Yoga (Raven Recording, 2002)
Yogafit: Music for Slow Flow Yoga, Vol. 2 (Raven Recording, 2003)
Still Chillin’ (Raven Recording, 2005)
Jhoom: The Intoxication of Surrender (Raven Recording, 2009)
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)
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.
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.