Interview: Nomad Collective (Oct 2014)

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We caught up with Nomad Collective during the shoot of their promo video last month to talk to them about their band

With a crispy album just released and an oncoming “world” tour on the horizon, Nomad Collective is a name you are going to hear again and again and, we hope, again the next months.

Multicultural, eclectic and multifaceted: Nomad Collective is a rhythmic whirlwind able to captivate and engage its listeners thanks to its multifarious reality. Like London, the city where they are based, the ensemble can be sparkling, decadent, gloomy and energetic at the same time.

Their sound embraces influences coming from the four corners of the earth, because from the four corners of the earth come the dozen of members and guests musicians who have collaborated to the project, among them the cream of London’s world music scene like Lokkhi Terra’s Javier Camilo, Ska Cubano’s Oreste Noda and Ernesto Estruch, LSO’s violinists Belinda McFarlane, UK’s vocalists Sarah-Jane Lewis and David Landers and Yoruba Andabo’s Gerardo De Armas Sarria. Back in 2010, when Medhi (drum), Josh (bass) and Owen (guitar) started to play together, Nomad Collective was far to be in their mind.

As Owen told us, everything “started essentially as a jam with the intention of being an Afrobeat band”, but then things and plans have deeply changed. They eventually realized that “there were many more influences” to be influenced by. So, they took some flavours from Cuban music, the Jimi Hendrix artistry and Fela Kuti emotional drive, some jazz smoothness, more urbanised hip-hop metric, some airy desert blues and the suffused atmospheres of Cinematic Orchestra to develop their own refined and well-defined sound: the trademark of the band.

After 4 years playing together, they have become, quoting Josh: “one happy family all under one roof, working from the recording studio” and in August, they have finally released their first work: “Soundscapes of a Bedouin Rudeboy”, which can be considered as the sum of their artistic life.

“Soundscapes of a Bedouin Rudeboy” is an album that states itself since its title, which Caspar (sax) defines in this way: “it really started as a joke way to describe some of the songs and it sort of stuck with us!”.

Nomad Collective have been able to show the motley reality and ever-evolving soul of their music just using few words. The record, without giving a single touchstone, moves itself on different levels with many keys of interpretations. There’s the ethnic context which often reveals itself through the Latin (Cuban in particular), West and North African influences like the rhythmic and the extensive use of percussions and brass. Then, next to it, there’s also a more metropolitan attitude, which shows itself when it comes to the polished and accurate arrangements, or when the sounds become more urban also through the employment of spoken words.

Josh told us about this subject that “we are all big fans of hip hop and thought it would be appropriate for us to feature an MC on one of our tracks and it turned out pretty well”. But the picture would be unfinished without talking about the jazzy feeling on which the most of the tunes proceed.

In this regards, Kieran (trombone) confessed that jazz was the first love for some of the band members: “I started playing piano when I was 7. Already I was listening to jazz, so that bit came naturally to me, the trombone came after!”. All these ingredients have created a tasty but at the same time dainty musical recipe which is ready to be served on the table.

With a crispy album just released and an oncoming “world” tour on the horizon (with a gig in La Havana too), Nomad Collective is a name you are going to hear again and again and, we hope, again the next months.




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