Category Archives: North America

Globalizing Soundscapes Through Live-tronic Experiences

As part of our preview coverage for Symbiosis Gathering 2016, we are delighted to offer our international artist interview series. Our aim is to bring a personalized addition to our visual coverage by asking questions that align with Breaking Borders’ focus on uncovering untold stories and examining cross cultural exploration in music.

The first interview in our series is with UK world-electronica producer Kaya Project! Seb Taylor, the master behind Kaya Project, has been active for over a decade with 8 released albums. He is known for his collaboration with a wide range of musicians and vocalists from various ethnic backgrounds. He has created an iconic “Live” experience where many of his collaborators play with him on stage fusing live acoustic soundscapes with his beautiful electronic production. This year at Symbiosis, Seb Taylor will be playing a electronic DJ set on Friday night and then join Kaya Project for a very special “Live” set on Saturday morning.
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Breaking Borders: Symbiosis is a unique global gathering, what makes it special to you and how does it stand out among other similar events?

Kaya Project: Well, I guess the most special thing for me is that this is actually my first ever Symbiosis! Having heard so many good things from my musician friends I’m finally going to be able to experience it first hand. Pretty excited I have to say. I’ve also been told it is affectionately known as ‘Swimbiosis’ due to the current location, So I’m glad to have an opportunity to splash around this year (I love swimming) before it moves to a different location next time around. Perhaps you will need to ask me this question after I’ve actually been there, ha ha… then I’ll have a better personal perspective on the true nature of the festival. But suffice to say, I’m expecting some special moments for sure.

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We are very excited for your “live” performance of Kaya Project, do you have anything special in store us?

Coming fresh from a European leg of the tour, I’ve had the great pleasure of Performing alongside some of my favorite musicians, & this California show will be the first time Kaya Project has performed within the home territory of the lead vocalist, Irina Mikhailova (as most of you know) is the Kazakhstani Singer who has been part of the project since it’s inception. She has spent many years living in San Francisco, with frequent annual trips over to Europe, but this will be the debut Kaya Project gig in her own backyard so to speak. So from that point of view I consider it a pretty special show. We shall also be joined by Montreal based Guitarist Israel Galipeau who most recently played with us at BOOM festival (Portugal) & Whirl-Y-Fayre (U.K.) Also, in keeping with the California Vibe, We have prepared a couple of exclusive reworkings of Remixes that I did for David Starfire, looking forward to playing those ones out.

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You are a artist who travels the world and creates a “world soundscape” through music production. What drew you to this work, and what inspires you to keep going?

From a musical perspective I could say that hearing the album “Songs From The Victorious City’ by Jaz Coleman & Anne Dudley was a huge inspirational moment for me. Back in 1991 & I hadn’t really started to produce music properly. I remember experiencing major goosebumps & thinking how amazing it was, this fusion of Moroccan music with Western Electronic production. Who can really say what inspires an artist to keep going, I just know that as long as I feel the music inside of me I hope I’ll always have an opportunity to be making it!

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https://sebtaylor.bandcamp.com/album/walking-through

4. We’ve seen you collaborate both on records and on stage with talented musicians from around the world like Randolph Matthews and Irina Mikhailova. What’s your favourite part about working with such diverse talent, representing different cultural and music backgrounds?

Its an honour to work with Irina & Randolph, & I still vividly recall the exact moment I heard both of their voices for the first time. Strangely enough both times were during Soundchecks for events I was also booked to perform at. Irina was singing for Medicine Drum in Mexico (close to the pyramids of Teotihuacan) & Randolph in the slightly less mystical setting of the legendary Turnmills Bar in east London., ha ha! But the effect on me in both instances was identical, I was transported. One of the Joys of working on Kaya Project material is the ability to fuse as many different cultures as sonically reasonable. As long as they sound harmonious & part of a coherent greater sonic picture to me then that is the sole requirement. Besides the amazing Randolph & Irina, I have to mention Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Shahin Badar, Natasha Chamberlain, Flo Comment, Deepak Pandit & numerous other incredible international players I’ve had the great fortune to collaborate with.

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https://sebtaylor.bandcamp.com/album/sema-yaka

Your album …& So It Goes is primarily a world acoustic album, where as most of your projects contain an electronic element, hence the recent remix album of …&  So it Goes. Tell us about your experience with both sonic hemispheres and why you like to fuze global acoustic sounds with electronic music?

Yes indeed, “..& So It Goes” was the first entirely acoustic album from Kaya Project. It was a conscious decision for me to remove all electronic sounds from the project, & focus primarily on Live instrumentation. In a way this has made Kaya Project stand out from many other acts in the scene I guess, (the lack of electronic sounds I mean). It has also been a very useful in making the music more ‘timeless’ so to speak. The latest album “So It Was” is indeed fully electronic, I enlisted all my favorite producers to rework & remix the original tracks, people like Desert Dwellers, Gaudi, Bwoy De Bhajan, Kukan Dub Lagan, David Starfire & many others, all contributed to making a great & wide ranging electronic remix album. In fact I do love to have the two opposite sonic hemispheres of Kaya Project represented and in a way compartmentalized away from each other, The Organic original albums (& associated Live show), compared to the electronic remixes (& associated DJ sets).
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https://sebtaylor.bandcamp.com/album/so-it-was-so-it-goes-remixed

What’s your opinion on music production today, specifically the global festival culture becoming a strong global community and a means to “break down borders”? (cultural difference, societal norms, creative expression, etc.) What is the best part about being a key player in this artistic revolution?

Well, more than anything you could say the Internet has been the greatest means of breaking down cultural & geographic borders over the last ten years, although I do like to think music has had a strong part to play as well! I see my friends playing in places like Beirut & i think back to how I first heard of all those middle eastern places on the news throughout my childhood. Now music is truly bridging east & west in a way that was only dreamt about before. The Internet has made such connections & cultural pathways possible. It’s important to understand that you should be respectful of other people’s beliefs (whether or not you agree with them), & while I tend to steer clear of any direct religious connotations in Kaya Project, there are certain times where it can be a significant indicator of just how similar we all are. The track ‘One God Dub’ on our 2005 Album ‘Elixir’ for example has musicians from many different faiths all performing as one harmonious entity. Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Atheist & Shinto musicians all perform on that one track. That is another reason I’ve always been drawn to instrumental music, free from any lyrical dogma or doctrine, just a direct undeniable musical connection.

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https://sebtaylor.bandcamp.com/album/elixir

Many of your projects are compilations of field recordings you’ve recorded around the world. How much does the natural environment influence you and your music?

Regarding the environment, It’s not something I would say is intentional, however I have spent a lot of time recording in deserts and other strange exotic locations. But for me I have to say the focus is more on the music and musicians than the environment in which they are recorded. Having said that, there’s nothing I find more inspirational than rainfall! You could call me a Pluviophile for sure and I guess that is pretty useful when you live in England. It rains quite a lot of the time there, plenty of inspiration to be had for a rain freak like myself.

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https://sebtaylor.bandcamp.com/album/desert-phase

Any future projects, tours, collabs to look forward to?

Well, collabs are on the back burner as I’ve been on the road so much this year. Happy to say that USA is now on the agenda (having only played over here a handful of times before), So I hope to be performing on these shores quite a few times over the next two or three years. But on the immediate horizon are gigs in Canada (Vancouver & Toronto), Seattle, Israel, Australia, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico…. and a few more far flung places:) With any luck there will be some studio time to get creating some fresh Kaya Project and Hibernation music at some point, (I still have plenty of Inspiration for those particular projects)…. Just a lack of time to actually create the music due to all the traveling. But hey, patience is a virtue. I’m looking forward to seeing where my muse takes me next when the opportunity presents itself 🙂

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SYMBIOSIS SET TIMES:

  1. Seb Taylor (DJ Set) –  6:45-8pm (FRI) @ Family Circus
  2. Kaya Project (Live Set) – 6:30-8am (SAT) @ Silk Road

 

 

 

Enchanted Forest Gathering: Menodino’s Hidden Gem

Last month, the Breaking Borders team ventured deep into the heart of Mendocino county to get the full Northern California transformational music festival experience at Enchanted Forest Gathering.

Now in its 6th year, Enchanted Forest Gathering has perfected the art of creating an environment for healing and expression. Enchanted Forest impressively maintains a family-style community while bringing in countless world class performers and state of the art production quality.

Ethos

Enchanted Forest is its very own brand of transformational music festival. Tucked away in a hidden valley, this festival encapsulated the spirit of the Nor Cal region. Kind and inviting, there was a focus on getting weird without judgment.

Colorful patterns abound, organic food stands dotted the forested river valley, while small temples were scattered throughout the campground designed for yoga and workshops. The scent of palo santo and redwood soaked the air. And vibrations of ground-shaking bass could be felt throughout camp. All senses were engaged for this gathering.

Microenvironments

To become an enchanted forest, Black Oak Ranch was filled with not just a couple stages, but dozens of microenvironements.

Small tented areas like the pillow-filled Nectar Temple offered an occasional break from the action. The bass-infused Saucy Spa served as communal showers by day and hosted after-hour DJ sets deep into the night.

Kidslandia provided a safe space for the little ones and encouraged a family atmosphere. The Branches Art Gallery was a home base for dozens of psychedelic artists. Kombucha stations instead of bars encouraged revitalization instead of intoxication. And on site marijuana dispensaries supported an environment for herbal healing.

Yoga was also a staple of Enchanted Forest. The wildly popular Yoga of Bass class even incorporated the main stage’s booming Function One speakers into it’s upbeat yoga routine!

Music

The long hot days were spent chilling by the Swimmin’ Hole stage. Most participants lounged in the small river next to the stage, taking in the liquid bass tunes of SOOHAN, SaQi, Autograf and others. Around nightfall, the crowd would add layers and wander over to the Mighty Oak Stage.

The Oak stage, Enchanted Forest’s centerpiece, had arguably the most impressive stage production we’ve even seen. Audiowaska’s creation combined carved wood and projection mapped visuals with artistic metal work and live flowers. The complimentary glow of twirling fire and mesmerizing lasers glued antendees to it late into the night.

Friday night featured variations of psychedelic trap thanks to PantryRaid and Clozee. Day two saw the stage lit up again with the earthy bass of Love and Light and Nominus, and the genreless headliners, Shpongle and The Polish Ambassador.

With just a few thousand participants, Enchanted Forest felt like a hidden gem – a secret festival specifically designed for the Mendocino community. Rarely is a festival able to combine such world class production with such an intimate and natural environment. Because of this, Enchanted Forest hardly felt like a world renowned festival, but more so a small gathering of old friends getting together to dance.

 

A Gathering for the Ages

Symbiosis Gathering

Photos by Nick Neumann.  Intro by Rourke Healey


Symbiosis Gathering is a transformational music and art festival held in California.  With headliners from Emancipator to Tipper it was truly one of the most impressive psychedelic dance parties imaginable. Over four days, 15,000 people from all walks of life came together to get weird.

Symbiosis could not be described better than a collection of people doing the absolute most. The effort and passion that was put into Symbiosis shined through best in the stages and art installations.

It was not the art, structures or music alone that make Symbiois Gathering, but also the people. The ones who wander into camp to roll J’s, paint faces or offer drinks. The people that introduce themselves to whoever they sit next to. The hilarious porto-potty conversations. The people that compliment you. The ones that invite rather than exclude. The ones that glow and express themselves to the fullest. It was hard to find a soul that wasn’t dancing, content or caring for others. And it was your one job, as a participant, to return the favor to everyone around you.

What ever Symbiosis participants did, they seemed to do it with the most effort. From costume dress up to unique dancing. Indulgence, though wildly abundant, was second to experience and contribution. With DIY and interactive art, participants felt as much a contributor as event promoters.

This phenomenon seems part of a growing trend of west coast events that uniformly lack authority, encourage individualism and offer nothing but good vibes. Spawned from the ideals of Burning Man, Symbiosis participants are allegoric to confrontation and refuse to judge. With some of the same art and many of the same faces, Symbiosis felt much like it’s sister festival, Lightning In a Bottle. The two events appeared coordinated in their defiance against mainstream festival values such as consumption and documentation.

The wave of these ‘be yourself’ festivals is a beautiful thing. But what makes this truly special is that there is nowhere else in the world like this. Nowhere can you escape for four days to a lake with thumping music, insanely expressive and welcoming people and be free from expectations like this. Not even the east coast of the U.S. can match this. Its almost like California is making a statement: We are California and we are going to party exactly how we want to.

Thank you Symbiosis Gathering. See you next time for the Eclipse.

War and Migration: Life on the Mexican Frontier

In a summer of anti-Mexican rhetoric, dramatic drug lord jailbreaks and an international migration crisis, I traversed northern Mexico by myself to see what the real story was. I wanted to go beyond the anger and the divisive language to understand the context of the debate. Political candidates in the United States have said that Mexicans are rapists and murderers, and that we need to seal our southern border. Yet others point to the success of NAFTA and to the growing middle class in Mexico in reducing the poverty that fuels the crime and the desire to emigrate to the United States. I heard rumors in the United States that the destructive drug war in Mexico was coming to an end. What I found was far more complicated and unexpected.

10582904_10152710407396469_4292822206649074376_oBorn and raised in San Francisco, Walker then majored in International Relations and Chinese at the New School University in NYC. He began traveling during a high school exchange to Argentina, and hasn’t stopped since. Walker has always sought out the more unusual and off the beaten path locations and is combining his love for photography and travel to kickstart a career as a journalist, striving to redefine the profession in rapidly changing world.