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f48


The Turbans “I


think a lot of people in the industry are very weary of the type of fusion where the Balkan aspects are becoming decentralised,” adds clarinet


player Daniel Gouly. “So, we’re trying to think of new ways to frame what we do. We write a lot of original music and we’re interested in traditional Romani music but also more updated forms.”


When people use the F word (fusion, that is), they tend to think of ‘something plus Western music’. Don Kipper, however, are increasingly playing around with dif- ferent Eastern influences. Daniel tells me about an Armenian piece they’re working on to which Josh has added guida (Bulgari- an bagpipes). “It’s difficult,” says Josh, “as the music we play could best be described as fusion. But no-one wants to call what they do fusion, because of the negative connotations associated with that word.”


“I think we try to root ourselves in the place that we live,” says Daniel. “And the stories of the people who live there and the journeys that they’ve taken. And the journeys that we’ve taken too.”


As The Turbans sing on the closing track of their recently released self-titled debut album (on Six Degrees), “No disap- pointment in Hackney.” (They also, in the same song, correctly identify said borough as home to the best kebabs in town).


They might hymn the praises of Hack-


ney, but The Turbans’ origins are far more exotic and far-flung. “The spirit of The Tur- bans is a travelling band,” explains dynam-


ic and impressively hirsute Anglo-Iranian guitarist Oshan Mahoney, when we chat outside a West London café one warm afternoon. “It all began when me and Dar- ius met in Kathmandu.” The ‘Darius’ in question is violinist, co-founder and fellow Anglo-Iranian, Darius Luke Thompson. “I’d been traveling overland to India and need- ed to get a new visa. Darius had been trav- eling from Tibet to London on a bicycle. We started traveling together, started making music, kept meeting people and the band kept growing. When we were cycling, Darius always had his smart hel- met on (cos he was a proper cyclist) where- as I always wore a giant turban. So, that’s where our name came from.”


Darius and Oshan hit it off as friends straight away but took time to gel musical- ly, what with the former being a classically trained violinist and the latter a busking folk guitar strummer. Their first concert was some eight years ago in Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama. From the get-go The Tur- bans’ membership was fluid. Oshan reckons that, over the years, forty to fifty people have played in the band. “It’s kept us on our toes at every gig.” The duo stayed on the road for a couple more years (India, Pakistan, Turkey, Greece), only returning to the UK when Oshan was called home for his grandmother’s funeral. Busking on Lon- don’s streets, they were pleasantly surprised by the crowds they drew.


The Turbans, as they are now, really came together in 2014, when Bulgarian singer Miroslav Morski and oud player Max Schedrovitzki joined up. “In this world


music scene, I feel it’s quite close. We can go to most countries within our genre and there are only so many bands that do our style and vibe and probably some of them have played in our band at some point. We all play in the same places, lend each other our vans, borrow musicians…”


The band started out playing their own


skew-whiff versions of the traditional music of wherever they were busking at the time (always a good hook for locals), developing their own material as they went along. They now describe themselves as playing ‘music from manywhere’ and their debut album features a cross-section of original material from throughout their history.


The album was recorded a couple of years back. They were intent on creating a proper job piece of work (not a thrown- together thing) and following a very suc- cessful crowdfunding campaign, went off to a rehearsal studio in Northumberland and worked the hell out of the material. It was recorded pretty much live in the Nubian Twist studio with producers Tom Excell and Thibaut Remy. The legendary Jerry Boys was originally down to produce, but ended up doing production for Saz’iso (fR413) instead, before getting back on board to mix The Turbans album (and he’s keen to produce their next one).


The album features a guest appear- ance from the redoubtable London Bul- garian Choir (fR311, 331/332). “The first gig after we recorded, we went to Knock- engorroch, in Scotland. I was just walking through the festival and I heard these


Photo: Zoe Savitz


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