Music nowadays has come to be identified with the sounds of the synthesiser and the turntable, the buzzing of the electric guitar, or with "poetry" interrupted at regular intervals with a 'yo!' accompanied by a rhythm formed by 3 notes. Five [sic] young people from all over the world decided not to let traditional music die, and under the name of "Caspian Hat Dance" collect ordinary folklore, which they redo in a unique way.
Armed with a tambourine, a violin, an accordion, a mandolin, a double bass and instruments of African origin, Juri, Pablo, Allen, Valentin and Joseph manage at each concert to pull the listeners to their feet. All bodies shake frantically with the traditional rhythms of gypsy, klezmer, pizzica and wedding music. Almost every performance culminates in thunderous applause and requests for more. Their music has also arrived in Romania, specifically to Cluj. The boys performed on the 2nd of January in Diesel Club, on the 3rd in My Way and on the 6th in Zorki Cafe. These performances form a part of a European Balkan Music Tour.
Start in Amsterdam
Juri the Goblin King, Lady Di (Pablo), Vano (Valentin), Mister Fish (Allen), and The One with the Socks (Joseph) met a little over three years ago in Amsterdam, and since then wander the world over. "We met accidentally one evening in Amsterdam. We are from Germany, Holland, Sweden [sic], Mexico. No one really knows how we found each other, but we have one thing in common: music. I met Allen in a punk bar. He caught my girlfriend's eye. Then, Allen met Juri in his [Juri's] own apartment. He started a conversation with him pretending that he knew him. We left together to the only place in Amsterdam which still served coffee after 3 in the morning and we met Pablo. There we planned the way, each one took the instruments and we went to the park for our first rehearsal. Soon, in the place we were singing, we discovered Joseph, who showed interest in joining us. That's how we became what we are today," says Valentin.
Along the way, the vision was shared with other people whose help they also benefited from. San Juan the Spaniard and Die Wilde Silvi [sic] are two of those.
The name in a dream
The name of the band is not just a common one, but the boys did not spend days searching for it. Caspian Hat Dance is the phrase Pablo remembered from a dream. The group's songs are a mixture of languages: Dutch, German, English, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Romani, Spanish and other ones they made up. Also, the colorful and vibrant rhythm leaves no doubt about the title.
The five young people left their countries and families behind in order not to permit traditional music to die. Their loved ones are reserved to vacations. They have fought at a global pace [?] and have collected Swedish [sic], German, South American, Gypsy, and Jewish folklore, to which they have added their own melodic interpretations. "Each one of us carries music within him/herself. We travel and interact with different people from the places from which we derive our influences. Thus we arrived in Romania itself. Allen and I came to Cluj at the beginning of September and sang in the bars: Insomnia, Klauzen. We saw that the people are interested and we began to ask to listen to Romanian folk music. From Cluj we went to Maramureş and then south. Here we met people who helped us immensely. We were even invited to play at several local radio stations", explains Pablo.
They have sung for sheep
Caspian Hat Dance has had hundreds of concerts. The five young people can be found in a plaza in Venice, in the park in Amsterdam, in bars in Cluj, and even at Hungary's Sziget Festival and the Stream Music Festival. "Most of the time, we sing uninvited. We have sung to sheep, and in a retirement home in Berlin, and for illegal immigrants. The most unusual show of ours was in a circus tent in Amsterdam, where we sang in the air, hanging from some ropes, many meters from the ground," says Juri.
About Romanians, the boys says that they are very open and easily receive their type of music. Still, they don't understand why the people of a culture, with a musical history in which the elements which they extol abound, are not accustomed to such a style, and why Romanian artists don't use it in their work.
"It's strange to see that Romanians take to dancing and begin to truly feel good only at the end of the concert. Our music has its roots also in local folklore. Here many people speak to us in Romani. It's true that we also use Roma elements, but not only. I think that's why we tend to sing more often in Hungary. The people there have preserved their tradition well", he thinks.
Juri, Pablo, Valentin, Allen and Joseph would like the tour to continue in 2009, if possible, in a hot-air balloon or in a horse-drawn caravan. Also in the new year, Caspian Hat Dance wants to be forthrightly recognised as the pioneer of a new kind of music. One thing is for sure: Cluj-Napocans who want to hear them have now lost their chance: the band will return to Cluj in the summer, maybe with new creations inspired by whatever craziness will accompany them until then.
Listen to them online
Fans can find more information and pictures on the band's official website or on their Myspace account. On the 29th of March 2008, the boys launched their first CD, which includes the pieces "Amari szi, amari", "Hango", "Sherele", and "U rusciu tu le mare" [sic].
Clujeanul.ro offers you two of those pieces, with the permission of the band.
translated by Mister Fish