From strangers to creators on the Roots and Hybrid stage

By María José Villanueva, photos by Siân Kavanagh 

Close your eyes and imagine: electric notes that transport you to the Amazon rainforest in South America. Sway with the jazz music coming of a trumpet and find yourself enchanted by the ethereal voice of a woman charming the crowd at Roots & Hybrid.  

This is just a small fraction of Spot Festival happening throughout Aarhus this weekend, with Roots & Hybrid as a diverse sampling and celebration of music from around the world.

When you ask three performers with totally different cultural backgrounds to play together for the first time at a festival, the result is guaranteed to be unique.

Danish singer Gurli Octavia, Argentinian musician Pedro Canale (part of Chancha Vía Circuito) and Turkish/Swedish trumpeter Ruhi Erdogan are three artists who met just three days ago and played Thursday night at Godsbanen.

Ruhi (left), Gurli (center) and Pedro (right) had only one day to create and rehearse the music they played during their 30 minute show on Thursday night (photo: Siân Kavanagh)

The musicians were brought together on the stage by the initiative of Rosa – the Danish Rock Council – which organises Spot Festival, and the Spanish music festival Días Nórdicos, which was also expanded to Latin America.

“Since 2010 we at Rosa and Spot have sent names from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other Nordic countries to Spain and since 2014, we also send Nordic musicians to Latin America, because the people in Días Nórdicos have connections in Argentina”, explains press and the PR coordinator for SPOT Festival, Henrik Friis.

He recalls that in 2016, Spot and Días Nórdicos did the first workshop in Buenos Aires with Nordic and Argentinian musicians which were chosen by the organisers with the intention of creating new music and promote collaboration among the artists.

“This year Días Nórdicos proposed that Chancha Vía Circuito from Argentina should play in Spot and we agreed; but said we would also like to do another workshop so we asked Pedro Canale to work with Gurli Octavia because we thought she’s a new interesting voice and she’s completely different to Pedro Canale” says Friis.

For these musicians, this is a rare opportunity they wanted to take despite the obstacles of working with artists you have just met.

“We find this idea very exciting and challenging for the three of us” says Pedro Canale, “we’ve had a small fight but now we are friends” he jokes during the rehearsal.

Danish singer Gurli Octavia considers that the main obstacle was figuring out how to work with everyone’s music styles. “It’s about understanding each other’s ways of working but also finding your own way of working with other people, because you can’t exactly do what you are used to, so you have to find some common ground”, explains the artist. “It’s like finding the same language we have in common”, adds Pedro.

Eclectic fusion

Each of the musicians brought their own music to create something totally new on the stage.

“I think the main idea is that everybody contributes with their own style, background and sound. Pedro has the electronic beats inspired from cumbia music; I’m into some Balkan, Turkish and jazz sounds and Gurli has her own music and is a singer and songwriter” explains Ruhi Erdogan.

“Those are the three elements we work around to try to find the fusion, it’s actually hard but it’s fun. It starts to sound like something only we can do, is nice that they called us to create something new that has our personal sounds”, says the Argentinian musician.

The crowd sat on the floor of Ra Hal stage at Godsbanen to enjoy the first show of Roots & Hybrid (photo: Siân Kavanagh)

Pedro Canale is delighted to be here, “It’s a pleasure, we find it very important to all the musicians that participate in it because people in general doesn’t know who are the artists, so it’s good to show us and let people discover us”, he states.

An international collaboration

The relationship between Rosa and Días Nórdicos has been going on for years, but the partnership with Roots & Hybrid festival is new for the creation of this show.

“They got this Turkish/Swedish trumpeter to join the workshop so we have the Middle East, Northern Europe and Latin America trying to create something unique. We think of artists who would fit into a workshop that joins creative minds so we end up with new music, new genre crossings and expressions that we’ve never heard before”, explains Henrik Friis.

“We are putting a lot of money to do this but we just think that is important to create new ways for the music, new collaborations, new networking possibilities for the musicians; it’s just that we try to help each other, it’s an intercultural exchange” concludes the director of Spot.

People can enjoy musical experiences like this and more to come during Spot Festival, which is happening from May 9th to May 13th in Aarhus.

For more details about SPOT Frstival, SPOT+  visit their website here.

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