With sharper notes nipping October’s air, the perfect opportunity to explore musical talents blasting onto Cyprus’ ever expanding music scene beckons. Enjoy cosy evenings in or fun nights out immersed in original riffs, bends and melodies by accomplished musicians, some of whom herald glowing international recognition.
My Cyprus Insider recommends 5 local bands you’ve simply got to familiarise yourselves with!
1. Monsieur Doumani
Nicosia’s very own Monsieur Doumani burst onto the scene in 2011, and fast became known as one of the very best alternative bands on the island while international recognition fast followed suit; by 2014 they were nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ in the acclaimed international Songlines Music Awards. With two successful full length albums under their bow that showcase a real passion for Cypriot folklore, they’re famed for rearranging traditional Cypriot songs with an original twist. Making global ripples, they’ve played at world festivals and venues including WOMAD, Sommarscen Malmo and the Telemark Folk Festival.
Hailed as “entertaining, confident and inventive” by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, their music can be heard playing on international radio stations from the BBC and Radio France to PBS FM Melbourne. Monsieur Doumani compose their songs in the Cypriot dialect; inspired both by contemporary Cypriot society and its older traditions.
Their second album, Sikoses, characterised mainly by their own compositions, was awarded ‘Top of the World’ in the Songlines magazine issue #108, reached No.1 in the World Music Network’s June 2015, charts and recently reached No. 3 in the Transglobal World Music Chart! Suffice to point out that their unique ‘Cypriotness’ has both young and old lining outside their concerts. Want to hear them play soon? Catch them on October 10th at the Pera Festival in Pera Orinis at the village square, 6pm.
2. The Amalgamation project
Listening to the soulful cry of Vasiliki Anastasiou’s vocals will leave you satiated whilst simultaneously yearning for more. The Amalgamation Project is a collective of musicians sharing a vision of music without boarders, and their live performances are rather magnetic, drawing the audience into their world of ethnic and jazz blend sounds.
Founded by Vasiliki, a Greek-Cypriot vocalist and composer whose compositions act as the heart of their music, The Project also re-arrange traditional melodies from countries around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkan Peninsula. Vasiliki loves to collaborate with other talents too, inviting guest musicians from different backgrounds to experiment with the blend. She consequently runs the pitch perfect Amalgamation Choir; one that’s also not to be missed.
The Amalgamation Project is currently getting some rest and enjoying a little recuperation following a packed summer of performances and squirreling in the studio to produce their debut album. Vasiliki will, however, be vocally tantalizing audiences with two collaborators on October 8th at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia.
3. Sound of Thieves
Fancy something a little different? Then lend your ear to the exciting electro funk and groove sounds of the talented young male and female duo, Sound of Thieves. An experimental live electro band formed in 2014, it’s an unusual mix for Cyprus: one part British and one part Polish.
Choosing to play both their own songs and original covers of more unusual tunes, Sound of Thieves craft their unique sound through the use of various musical techniques. Incorporating original live looping and samplings, vocals and instruments, you can expect to hear an almost Portishead electro sweet sounding beats and vocals mix. They can next be found strutting their stuff at Notes & Spirits in Nicosia on October 14th.
If it’s jazz you love, then plunge yourself into Tricoolore’s take on global jazz fusion; ‘from the African soul of new Orleans and Europe experimentation to the maqams of the east,’ all inspired by a brilliant Greek backdrop.
The Greek and Cypriot instrumental band brake away from musical labels and stereotypes, offering unique rhythmic melodies within their creations. And they absolutely thrive on inspired improvisation which lends to a very authentic ‘Greekness’ to their jazz fusion compositions.
Tricoolore’s debut album, Oregano Infused, is one to get hold of if you want to familiarise yourselves with their infectious beats; it features nine original instrumental pieces composed by band members and can be purchased as a digital download on Amazon. After a heady summer, there are no announced gigs in the immediate future, but do keep an eye on their website for news of upcoming performances.
5. The Zilla Project
The Zilla Project is a six year strong, four-piece band loved for playing its version of the blues (with wonderful gravelly vocals!) They’ve been livening up the venues of Cyprus for many a year, and are a staple sound to the people of the island. So much so, that they are now preparing to spread their music further afield beyond our island’s shores and follow their international aspirations.
What to expect? A collection of original compositions along with energetic and authentic versions of well-known blues & rock classic numbers, mainly American. Their first album This One’s for the President was released in 2014 and is available on their website. Is this yet another Cypriot band breaking the international market? Watch this space. All upcoming concerts are announced on the band’s facebook page here.