Your new show is called Mistral. It is an incredible mix of Spanish, Bulgarian, French, Romani and Arabic cultures and languages. Tell me a bit about its inception.
MISTRĀL is named for the wind that traverses the Mediterranean, and alludes to the migrations of the Sephardic and Romani people over the centuries. Its inception began a long time ago when I was a child, gathering almost extinct songs across the Mediterranean with my ethno-musicologist mother, and learning them in order to preserve them. I have continued along this path naturally, almost without trying because it is the life I have always lived. The band is also full of mixed backgrounds so it is also natural for us to write new tunes heavily influenced by these roots.
Do you all remember the artists you all listened to as children? Were there particular acts that stick in your mind?
Yasmin Levy, Estrella Morente, Ojos de Brujo, Oum Kalthoum, Paco de Lucia
If you had to select the albums that means the most to you, which would they be and why?
Rosalía – El Mal Querer – because she bridging the gap between Flamenco and commercial pop music and that is an incredible feat. Also, she is a fantastic singer.
Where can we see you play this year? What dates do you have coming up?
May 26 – MISTRĀL album release, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
June 1 – Mark Howard fundraiser, Hamilton
July 11 – Toronto Music Garden
Aug 15 – Skirball Cultural Centre, Los Angeles
What drew you to the music industry?
I grew up in it, on stage since the age of four.
Please explain your creative process.
Whether world or pop music, I meet with one or more musicians, we decide what to do together and we collaborate until the product is good enough to release or play live.
What’s an average day like for you?
Wake up around 9 or 10 am, answer emails and do admin for 2-3 hours, go to the gym, have meetings or rehearsals in the afternoon, do shows, teach or have rehearsals in the evening.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
Just the same meaning everyone is looking for – what is the meaning and purpose of our lives? What are we all searching for? Love, happiness, understanding and success, however we define those things individually and as a society.
Do you collaborate with others? What is that process?
Always. It depends on the style but it is almost always 50/50 input.
Tell me about your favourite performance venues.
Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. We released our previous album there, and we are releasing MISTRĀL there on May 26, 2019. It is a beautiful hall and I agree with the mandate of the museum which is to foster intercultural collaborations. Koerner Hall is also a gorgeous venue with great acoustics and programming in Toronto. In Montreal, I loved playing Salle Pierre-Mercure, and in Quebec City Palais Montcalme. I also love performing in small intimate spaces – it’s totally different – i.e. DROM Taberna and ArtSquare in Toronto, and Sala Rossa and Casa del Popolo in Montreal.