(Non-Arabic speaking readers can access English subtitles for this video by using the “captions” button located in the bottom right corner.)

Better, together.

My colleagues and I reach the small, withered doorway of an old apartment building in central Amman after a precarious decent down a steep set of craggily concrete stairs. From outside we can hear a group of voices talking over the dim hum of a grainy radio, though access to the building is obstructed by a canopy of wet, drying clothes strung about a low lying chain of crisscrossed metal wires.

Inside, surrounded by the building’s unfinished walls, fifteen or so men are gathered around the makings of a modest dinner. Though they have little – just black beans and rice – they are quick to invite us for supper. We politely decline and instead ask to see the rest of the two-bedroom apartment that the men share.
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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 Audio, Thoughts, Video 5 Comments


Para leer en español, click aquí.

I’d like to introduce you to Steven, Franky, Jhon, Brian, Pedro, Diego and Angie, also known as the recently-incarnated music production crew Bogobeatz.

Since the New Year, I’ve been facilitating a digital production workshop series at la Fundación Familia Ayara, a Bogotá-based organization of “hip hoppers changing the world.” The objective of the project has been to provide the students with weekly music production workshops at no cost, focusing on utilizing free downloadable production software like FL Studio and compatible software plugins. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to break down the basics of music production into weekly components so that students can walk away with practical skills to work on their own original production projects from their homes or from wherever they can access a computer setup.
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Monday, May 12th, 2014 Audio, Video 11 Comments

Why You’ve Never Heard of Any Other Online Record Labels from Northern Ghana

The Internet doesn’t work in this part of West Africa the same way it does in the US. It is always slow, and pretty inconsistent. Even with disposable income and unlimited free time, trying to do simple things like checking email, not to mention watching YouTube videos or listening to streaming music can feel like an exercise in futility. As I’m sitting here at the Wooden Cafe—the only place in town with free Wi-Fi—a number of other expats sit around me, patiently trying to use the Internet. My friend and fellow Fulbrighter Karl Haas has been trying to open an email for about ten minutes. Not an attachment, just an email. So starting an online record label here is challenging, to say the least.
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Monday, May 5th, 2014 Audio 15 Comments

Elina Duni & Retrovizorja

A young Albanian immigrant discovered the group Retrovizorja during a typical teenage bout of existential uncertainty. Their music ached, desperately to belong to something. It’s ambience, unease, and provocative lyrics were the first to trigger an interest in indie music coming from the Albanian diaspora.

After years of sharing Retrovizorja songs with college friends and coworkers, I finally met some of the musicians that gave so much hope and meaning to life back home in Milwaukee.

Elina Duni, the vocalist, was recently in Prishtina touring with her Jazz quartet, a group based out of Switzerland where she grew up. The Elina Duni Quartet with Colin Vallon on piano, Patrice Moret on double bass and Norbert Pfammatter on drums, “represents a return to her musical sources, a combination of Balkan folk songs and jazz”. I was able to sneak an interview with her just before her dress rehearsal.

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Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 Audio, Video 6 Comments

India on Shuffle

The beauty of music lies in its ability to provide feeling across borders, classes, and races, and to resonate where words fail. I remember hearing the Gypsy Kings playing live at a Merkato 55 brunch party in New York; I remember dancing to Cuban band Las Orishas at Poble Espanol in Barcelona; I remember listening to Australian rock from my tent at Glastonbury in the U.K.; I remember singing “Beautiful” along with Akon, live at the Indian Premiere League Launch in Mumbai. With such an eclectic fusion of sounds crossing the globe, I wondered about India’s spot on the playlist. While Bollywood music is certainly a global export, my time in Mumbai has introduced me to a new, innovative, and increasingly popular scene that is gaining momentum all over India and on the international stage.

Indian Ocean Performing

I had heard about Indian Ocean from the moment I stepped foot in India. The Delhi-based band has been around for about 20 years and many have grown up on their music. I knew their powerful words had the ability to move people of all ages and that they were immensely popular on the Mumbai scene. Nothing, however, prepared me for the crowd I witnessed on a Wednesday night in Mumbai when Indian Ocean performed at Blue Frog, the city’s most popular music venue. The concert was slated to start at nine, so I assumed an arrival time of eight would give me more than enough time to get settled. When I pulled up to the venue, however, I was greeted by the sight of hundreds of Mumbaikers who had already beat me to the scene, waiting in line since morning to what was an already completely full and sold out show. Luckily, my friend knew the owner, and he ushered us to the front amid much animosity from the other fans. I felt bad for all of those waiting in line, but then again, it was research!
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Thursday, July 15th, 2010 Audio, Thoughts, Video 3 Comments

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