The great Epirus clarinet player Dimitris Rizos (who happens to be my father in law) had been suggesting for a while to me to record some instrumentals with him. This summer, after the lockdown in spring, we got together and recorded a first track with me on the Laouto. The music from Epirus is somewhat different from the rest of Greece and I really came to love this style. First of all for the unique polyphonic voices, but also for the special musical color and melodies. We will do more songs like this, with the aim of recording an album. Here is a video of the first track, ‘Up high on the Kostilata (mountain). For the sonic sherlocks among you, no we did indeed not record and film this at the same time, there is too much wind and no electricity out there – we recorded inside a house close to this location and then went outside and played along with the recording blaring on the car radio while someone was filming.
Like most people in the music world, we were hit hard by the Covid 19 situation. Several plans got put on hold. But we have not been idle – some great things have been brewing during the last few months. I have mixed the live show we did with Zulya Kamalova in the Kamal Theatre in Kazan december 2019. The good people at Yummy Music in Kazan are now working on the video editing, and most of the show will be released online later this year. Next, an international project with Snowapple, which was supposed to be recorded in Northern California, is now in the works completely via the internet. This project features fantastic arrangements by the great horn player Gregg Moore. Moore on this soon (sorry couldn’t keep myself)
Also, for those in the know, since we made an album as Kranides with lyricist and novelist Yiannis Kalpouzos (released early 2017 on Snail Records), Marifenia and me have been a bit quiet as far as music goes. This is about to change, as we have started a new project during the lockdown, with working title MUFU. This is not going to be as much ethnic / worldmusic but rather an attempt at blending regional music from Epirus with a number of modern influences which we both have a great passion for. Since it is going to be very different from Kranides, we will probably not release it under the name Kranides. Stay tuned!
In the middle of the pandemic, I got a call from Laurien from Snowapple. She wanted to make a creative track, in French, with a bunch of musicians who were each of them locked in their houses, via the internet – and asked me to put it all together. She was going to get creative with a camera and final cut pro in her own house, and make her first ever videoclip. Well, with these kind of challenges, of course I was up for it 🙂
Musicians who played on this are:
Laurien Schreuder, song, vocals and video – Amsterdam
Nora Tinholt – vocals and video – Amsterdam
Allan ‘Gunga’ Purves, percussian and sounds – Scotland (but he lives in Amsterdam)
Osito ‘Morro’ Von Ropi, flute – Mexico (but resides in Utrecht, Holland these days)
Matteo Cerboncini, electric guitar – Italy (but.. found his love in Finland and lives over there)
Kasper Stern, bass – Amsterdam
Cynthia Martinez, mental support – Mexico City
And myself on some acoustic guitars, claude viol and synth sounds. Mixed @ Pindos Music and mastered by Zlaya @ Loud in Barcelona, Spain. Vocals, bass and percussion were recorded by Joeri Saal at the amazing *amazing* studio 150 in Amsterdam
Reviews for Zulya’s album ‘Six Days Loving’ have been coming in and have been more than positive! This one by musictrust in Australia praised the production, a few quotes:
“The arrangements and instrumental accompaniments on the album are intriguing, captivating and while being unusual are always superbly musical and accessible.”
“..the Claudeviol, which is a bass guitar that can be bowed. It features strongly on this wonderful album. And of course the sublime, ethereal and enthralling voice of Zulya soars above, around and through these stunning arrangements.”
“It was beautifully recorded and mixed with very contemporary effects by Michiel Hollanders at Pindos Music. The mastering by Zlaya Loud in London is excellent. Sonically it is superb!”
After last summer’s show in Kazan with a live band playing ‘Six Days Loving’, Zulya got invited as one of the very few solo artists to perform on December 19, at the first in a series of celebrations for the 100 year existence of the Republic of Tatarstan. We performed a well known traditional called Bolubolum (The Nightingale) in an enormous theatre hall in Kazan (seating 3000 people) in front of the Tatar president and a range of important guests. After this event, which featured two hours of dance groups, choirs, orchestra performances and some other solo artists, we got to work for a full show on the 23rd of December at Kazan’s famous Kamal Theatre.
The theatre has quite a history, being the most prominent in all of Tatarstan, and Zulya’s band was the first ever independent artist to be performing there. We had a fantastic sound, with matching lights, and about 600 of the 800 seats were full. People loved the show, but there was an extra buzz about the fact that Zulya pulled off doing the show in this place at all. It was filmed and recorded so we will upload some video’s soon, meanwhile here is a few pictures.
The band got a bit expanded, now apart of Zulya featuring Gennady Lavrentiev on Tablas, Guitar and violin, Marat Fayzullin on Quray and Synths, Andrey Kazantsev on Drums, and myself playing bass on the Claude Viol. We had a few special guests such as Andrey Sidorov on Accordion, Oscar Yunusov sang a duet with Zulya, Saida Muhametzanova sang a few songs together with Zulya, Radif Kasapov sang a song in duet, and last but certainly not least, Yolduz Minnulina added some live poetry in her own unique way over our music
Young talented clarinet player Dimitris Sakkas from Greece has asked me to help him arrange and produce some instrumental tracks, which will be a variety of well known songs – played on the clarinet. The first track we did was ‘Dernière Danse’ by French singer songwriter Indila. At Dimitris request we added some swinging backbeat acoustic guitars to the song to give it a different feel. He has been a favourite of a large and growing audience in Greece since he performed on national television at a very young age. It has been great fun and easy to work with him.
In spring 2019 I was asked by Kamal Hors to mix his music for a new Moroccan cultural heritage documentary ‘Maalem Wa Moudoun’, on monuments an cities. In addition to mixing his music, I had to come up with two pieces with Spanish sounding guitar (Not exactly Flamenco, just Spanish guitar with some atmospheric sounds)
Here is an excerpt of the documentary with one of those pieces underneath it. Go to the start of the episode to hear more music by Kamal.
In tandem with presenting Zulya’s album at this year’s Tat Cult Fest in Kazan, I was asked to do a presentation on my productional approach in the prestigious new studio ‘Audio Kazan’. There were some 15 musicians and producers who with big smiles listened to me and my translator explain how I create beats with kitchen materials and such things. I hope it inspired some of them into creating their own sounds rather than relying on ready samples.
This year’s Tat Kult Fest in Tatarstan invited Zulya Kamalova to come and present her album Six Days Loving as one of the headlining acts. She asked me to join on my ClaudeViol and two other great musicians, Gennady Lavrentiev on Guitar and Violin, and Marat Taturas on Synths. Poet Yolduz Minnulina joined us on two songs on the stage and delivered some poetry over the music. We had about 4 days to prepare while staying in Kazan, rehearsed every day, and had a great time. Most likely not the last time we worked together with this group of people. The audience loved it, the place (inside the Kazan Kremlin, see the Mosque in the background) was packed while we played, much less so before and after even though there were good bands playing. Clearly Zulya still pulls a crowd.
Snowapple has been doing lots of live shows in Europe and Mexico, and their upcoming tour in Oktober will be together with a Mexican Brass band who play Balkan music! Well that’s right up my alley .. So Laurien asked me to make some arrangements slightly balkan style for the brass section, for a few pieces. Amoung them is a sparse arrangment for the song La Llorona which was also the song in the animation that recently won the Mexican Animation Competition. I’m looking forward to hear how the band will sound with these brass fellows!