Pindos Music praised in review

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!”

Two shows with Zulya Kamalova

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

Instrumental track with Dimitris Sakkas

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.

Music for documentary Maalem wa Moudoun

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.

Masterclass Music Production in Kazan

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.

Album presentation with Zulya in Kazan

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.

Brass arrangements for Snowapple

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!

New CD out by Zulya Kamalova

Zulya Kamalova’s CD ‘Six Days Loving’ is out and can be heard at bandcamp! Production by Pindos Music, in close collaboration with Zulya through the wonders of the internet. The album contains 9 new songs written by Zulya, arranged by myself and Zulya, with additions of a couple of great musicians from Canada, Russia and Australia. We spent a lot of time looking for a general productional approach to the album, and then within that concept, lending each song a unique sonic identity in order to support the beautiful poetry by Yoldyz Minnullina. My instruments are featured a lot on this album, as I played most of the parts – the Claude Viol for instance saw some heavy use and doubled as a kind of rudimentary bass-guitar, while also being used in it’s usual distorted cello – like presentation. We decided not to use a lot of traditional percussion but instead went with a collection of pots, pans and various random objects, plus one of my basses which with a certain mic technique works fairly well as a kick – snare kind of instrument – which I then mangled with effects and doubled with some electronic sounds. Zulya recorded her vocals at her home in Australia, which meant she could really take her time to get the best possible takes of each track. This approach in my opinion translates into very focused and intense vocals, free of the stress which can easily creep in during studio sessions under time pressure.
All in all it was a fantastic musical adventure, and one I hope we can follow up in the future with another project.
For more info on this album, and Zulya as an artist in general, check out her site.

Recording Snow Apple in La Fabrique

Producer Zlaya from LOUD asked me to join him on the new project ‘Project Lucy’ of Snow Apple. Snow Apple is the band around singer / songwriter Laurien Schreuder from Amsterdam. The core of the band used to be three girls, but by now Laurien is the only one left (and she was the first one). During her travels, she got involved with a talented and very sympathetic bunch of Mexican musicians. For this session, the band was joined by two excellent Italian session musicians, the quite unique and amazing Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves on squeaky stuff and whatever else makes some noise, and myself lending a hand on the Claude Viol or acoustic guitars wherever there was a need for some extra acoustic string violence.
My role consisted mainly of helping to get the music into some direction, as well as thinking along about the way how to record each song. We were lucky to record this project during 7 days in the La Fabrique Studio’s in the French Provence, which is definitely one of the most special residential studio’s left in Europe. The various spaces available provide some fantastic possibilities in terms of acoustics, and the place is just very beautiful, relaxed and inspiring to work in.  A big bonus is the house engineer Daniel, who was assisting and basically running Pro Tools and all the connections throughout the sessions, allowing us to focus on the music.
Learn more about Snow Apple on their site

Live sound for Lalitades

This summer, I am doing live sound for a couple of shows by the Greek band Lalitades. They are one of the most succesfull Greek traditional wedding and party bands, playing songs in ‘the old way’ from all over Greece but clearly specialising in the music from Epirus – which is where their roots are. Lined up with Clarinet, Violin, Laouto and voices (some handpercussion too), they get crowds going like no other, and often play for more than 6 hours non-stop. In many cases simply untill the last dancing people drop down, which is all to often around dawn. Resulting in us arriving back home some time in the morning.
Although it is only a very small part of their repertoire, I have to say I have a weak spot for their renderings of traditional Epirotic Polyphonic songs, of which you can hear a nice example here.