Kefaya musician Giuliano Modarelli breaks down their album Radio International for us
The London-based collective Kefaya head to Bengaluru for a concert. The guerilla jazz outfit address immigration and geo-politics through their music. We caught up with the founder and guitarist, Giuliano Modarelli. Excerpts from the interview:
1. Kefaya is described as an international collective of musicians, how does that work?
Al MacSween and I started this project in Leeds seven years ago. At first the band was an instrumental quartet featuring drummer Joost Hendrickx and bass player Kenny Higgins who was than replaced by Domenico Angarano when the band shifted to London. Kefaya soon grew to include a huge variety of artists from a range of musical traditions and began functioning as a modular ensemble. The idea was to create a ‘borderless’ collective that would allow us to further explore various musical interests whilst creating an environment to collaborate and exchange ideas with the great diversity of musicians we have been meeting and playing with over the years.
2. What will you be playing at the gig in India?
A selection of music from our first album Radio International and some new material which we are really excited to present.
3. Tell us about Radio International?
Radio International was recorded during travels and collaborations with musicians across India, Palestine, Spain, Italy & the UK, transcending musical and geographical boundaries to demonstrate the universality of beauty. Themes such as internationalism, freedom of movement, immigration and struggle are reinforced by the concept of the album as an 'international radio station', where radio samples weave together the musical and political intentions behind the album.
4. How did the album come about?
This process was very interactive - we originally developed everything live, then spent time in the studio, producing and adding musicians, which further informs how we now approach playing it live. This process allowed us the time and flexibility to work with lots of different artists in different parts of the world, trying different sounds and and finding new colours in our tracks. The nature of this band is collaborative, and is made up of musicians with a strong desire to share their knowledge and find something new in their traditions, so the studio is a great opportunity to reflect this. We also felt a rising
5. Tell us about a few of the tracks.
The first song on the album, Indignados, was titled in tribute to the ongoing Spanish protest movement, also known as the 15-M Movement. Featuring saxophonist, Richard Ormrod, the track was inspired by the sound of Éthiopiques music, and later developed its flamenco character with the addition of flamenco vocalist, Chico Pere. Pere’s voice is also featured on Protesta Flamenca, a dedication to the movement of flamenco musicians and dancers who began holding spontaneous performance protests inside Spanish banks following the recent economic crisis. Bella Ciao is a rework of the famous Italian partisan song that became one of the best-known anti-fascist anthems. Symphony was inspired by lines from a Martin Luther King’s speech in which he talks of a “beautiful symphony of brotherhood”, and was written in collaboration with vocalist and lyricist, Nicki Wells.
Intifada is constructed around samples of a young Egyptian girl filmed leading protest chants in Tahir Square during the Arab Spring and features the virtuosic oud playing of Ahmed Eriqat, recorded in Abu Dis, Palestine, during MacSween’s travels to the occupied West Bank. The final track, Whistleblower, moves towards the more electronic side of Kefaya’s sound, featuring Joost Hendrickx’s drumming with Tim Wright’s dark electronic production.
6. Which other bands are you influenced by or look up to?
So many. Flying Lotus, Radio Tarifa, Shakti, Radiohead, Toumani Diabate and Zakir Hussain
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