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Live Preview | Forbidden Songs with Moddi

Posted on November 18th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts by .


Norwegian singer-songwriter Moddi brings his interesting collection of reworked banned tracks to London for a special show in support of the Music in Exile Fellowship

Norway’s Pål Moddi Knutsen (better known as Moddi) released his most recent album, Unsongs, this September with an agenda. Moving past simply creating a batch of ear-pleasing songs, Unsongs consists entirely of Moddi’s interpretations of banned tracks from around the world to create awareness of censorship.

The idea for the album was sparked by his cancellation of a concert in Israel and subsequent discovery of Birgitte Grimstad’s, ‘Eli Geva’, which criticised the violence between Lebanon and Israel in 1982. Due to the song’s strong anti-militarist stance, she received death threats and push backs that forced her to abandon her performance of it in Israel.

Moddi became so inspired by the song and its story that he aimed to expose similar unjust censorings of other artists and their politically charged songs. The artists covered range from the well-known punk group Pussy Riot, who were jailed for speaking out against Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia, to Víctor Jara who was arrested, tortured and murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

After a recent, successful European tour, Moddi is set to perform his reworked collection of Forbidden Songs at London’s Hoxton Hall on December 7. The event will serve as a fundraiser for the Index on Censorship, a group dedicated to promoting and protecting free expression throughout the world.

Forbidden Songs at Hoxton Hall
December 7, 7pm

Tickets are available here 

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Introducing… Shapla Salique

Posted on November 17th, 2016 in Features by .


The British-Bangladeshi singer speaks to Alexandra Petropoulos about discovering a new freedom in the songs of a Baul saint

Shapla Salique sings the lyric ‘O Baul songs how you have captured my soul… when you awoke my deepest soul and gave me blessed inspiration, I finally found the path to express myself.’ For the singer those words couldn’t ring truer. Struggling to find her own musical identity, she finally found her creative freedom in the music of the 19th-century Baul saint Lalon Shah, resulting in the release of her first solo album No Boundaries.

Salique was born in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh and by the age of two she was already singing with her father. “Mum and dad always say to me, ‘you couldn’t speak, but you used to sing by saying ‘la, la, la, la’.’ I did my first performance in baby language,” she laughs. Aged five, shortly after her family settled in East London, she started performing with her dad’s group, Dishari Shilpi Ghosthi, the first British Bangladeshi ensemble, and when she was 14, her dad sent her to Bangladesh for just over a year to learn nazrul songs – the music of Nazrul Islam, Bangladesh’s national poet. “I’m so glad dad took me because I think if that hadn’t happened, I would not have fallen in love with nazrul songs and been exposed to so much music out there and learning the culture.”

She returned to the UK and continued to perform with Dishari Shilpi Ghosthi until she was 19, but the lack of musical freedom was starting to wear on her. “It’s almost like I didn’t have an identity when I was [doing music]. My dad made all the decisions; the songs were chosen by my dad and I just sang them.” So she took a break.

Ten years later, when revisiting a recording of songs by the Lalon Shah, Salique found herself drawn back. “This music just blew me away. It was almost like soul-searching, deeply spiritual… It was then that I thought this music is doing something to me. I don’t know what it is and I need to do something with it.”

While considered to be a dialect of Bangla, Sylheti, which Salique speaks, is almost an entirely different language to the Kushtia dialect of the songs, so she found she couldn’t understand the lyrics. “I found peace in these songs melodically and I wanted to know the meaning. Dad gave me some books with English translations. Even then it was quite difficult to understand because everything was in riddles. And riddles never get solved, so you’ve got to find your own interpretation.”

That freedom of interpretation offered her an outlet for her musical creativity that she had been unable to find before, which led her to record No Boundaries. “I’ve been singing all my life, but this album is something that I created. It’s complete musical control.”

Backed by a diverse line-up of instrumentalists on everything from tabla and sitar to saxophone and djembé, Salique is able to sing Lalon’s songs as she felt them – “Lalon’s music is something that you don’t hear, it’s something that you feel” – mixing Bangladeshi folk and jazz. “I think you should be free to experiment. And there were a lot of restrictions with me growing up, in terms of expressing myself as an artist. Now I’ve found that, and if people like it, it’s a bonus.”

But more than just an outlet for her creatively, this project reflects her deeper desire to expose a wider audience to Bangladeshi music. “Bangladesh is not rich in wealth but it’s so rich in culture and heritage,” she says. “I would love to get people to hear this kind of music. And if anyone hears my music and says something positive about Bangladesh, I’ll be so proud.”

ALBUM Shapla Salique’s album No Boundaries is reviewed in the current issue (December 2016, #123)

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An ÌFÉ less ordinary

Posted on September 15th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts by .

ÌFÉ - House of Love

Liam Izod previews the UK live debut of the Puerto Rican group ÌFÉ, who undertake an experimental fusion of percussion, electronics and dance.

We live in an era of producers stepping out from behind their studio consoles to share top billing with performers and even eclipse them. So we perhaps owe thanks to this blurring of the boundary between producer and artist for Otura Mun’s intriguing new project and group ÌFÉ, who make their live UK debut at Rich Mix on September 23 amid much hype and mystery.

Otura Mun – a drummer by background – has been producing on the Puerto Rican scene since he arrived from the US in the 90s. Artists like Mima, Cultura Profética and Calma Carmona have all benefitted from his affinity with rhythm and groove. He decided to launch a solo project last year, after a chance engagement with the Life Magazine archive coverage of the 1965 Watts riots in LA, scenes that echo depressingly loud in the modern US of Mun’s birth. From ‘Life’ came ìfé, the Yoruba word for ‘love’ and ‘expansion.’

Expansion is an appropriate motto for ÌFÉ, as Mun takes a multi-sensory approach to music, treating dance and videography as equal partners. ÌFÉ’s most revolutionary expansion is to add a harmonic dimension to percussive instruments. Otura Mun has practiced some musical DIY, fitting traditional percussion with electronic sensors that trigger harmonic elements.

Otura Mun

In an interview with New York Based journalist and academic Ed Morales, Mun explains ‘I love electronic music, but it’s always seemed a little stiff and rigid.’ His electro percussion allows him to dispense with the strait-jacket of pre-programmed sequences without losing the expanded musical palette that electronics allow. The result – complex currents of groove punctuated by catchy electro squelches – is unsettling in its novelty but stays with you.

Otura Mun is ordained in the Yoruba religion as a priest or babalao, which literally means ‘father of mysteries.’ There is certainly a lot of mystery and mysticism around ÌFÉ, who have only released two tracks so far. September brings an opportunity for Londoners to see how the ÌFÉ experiment translates to the live stage. It promises to be an out-of-the-ordinary experience.

ÌFÉ play Rich Mix in Bethnal Green on September 23.

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WOMAD Charlton Park 2016: Artist signings with Songlines

Posted on July 25th, 2016 in News, Recent posts by .

Photography by Suzie Blake

George Clinton Parliament-Funkadelic, Buika, Baaba Maal, Anoushka Shankar and many more perform at WOMAD Charlton Park this weekend

This year’s WOMAD is shaping up to be one of the best editions yet, hosting a multitude of the biggest artists from around the globe for four days of festivity at Charlton Park in Wiltshire. Among the fantastic line-up are P-Funk pioneer George Clinton and his legendary band Parliament-Funkadelic, Cape Verdean singer Lura, Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux and flamenco fusion queen Buika. An event for all ages, the festival will also offer a range of family-friendly activities including a Brazilian carnival, tree climbing lessons and the new addition of The Physics Pavilion.

If you’re not able to make it, you can keep up-to-date with the latest news and events by following the Songlines team on Twitter and Facebook. To view the full line-up, visit or download the free WOMAD mobile app.

Once again we’ve partnered with independent record store Rise and will be hosting artists signings for the Siam and Open Air stages. Artists confirmed include Colombian electro-cumbia pioneers Sidestepper, Indian sitar star Anoushka Shankar, and Saharawi singer Aziza Brahim. You can download your own artist CD signing timetable here.


Also be sure to visit the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage, where we will be hosting additional signings. Artists performing here include French-Canadian folk group Le Vent du Nord, Touareg rock group Kel Assouf, and Galician powerhouse Mercedes Peón. You can download your own artist CD signing timetable here.


And don’t forget that we’ll be selling copies of The Guardian and Observer throughout the festival (Fri-Sun incl.) from both Songlines stands (next to the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage and inside the Rise Records shop), so be sure to drop by for a morning chat with the team!

Below are some of the acts we are looking forward to the most, and an exclusive Apple Music playlist to give you a taste of what’s to come.

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