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14 février 2009

Peter Gabriel Won't Perform At Academy Awards

By Nikki Finke on Thu, Feb 12th, 2009

Peter Gabriel Pissed At Oscar Producers And Won't Perform At Academy Awards

I'm told that Peter Gabriel just pulled out of performing at the Academy Awards show. In a letter to the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, the co-writer and performer of Wall-E's "Down To Earth" says he doesn't think the nominated songs, and their writers and performers, are getting enough respect during this year's Oscars telecast. That's because the show's producers, Larry Mark and Bill Condon, have reduced the song segment to a medley of the three songs nominated for "achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original Song)" -- "Down to Earth” from WALL-E (Walt Disney), with music by Gabriel and Thomas Newman and lyric by Gabriel;

“Jai Ho”
from Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) with music by A.R. Rahman nd lyric by Gulzar; and “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) with music and lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.

I'm told the producers have slotted 90 seconds in the medley for each song sung by its original performer. But Gabriel said in his letter that he was only being offered 65 seconds for his song. "I don't feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and I have decided to withdraw from performing," Gabriel informed AMPAS. "I fully respect and look forward to the producers' right to revamp the show. Even though song writers are small players in the filmmmaking process, they are just as committed and work just as hard as the rest of the team, and I regret that this new version of the ceremony is being created in part at their expense." I'm told that the medley is the brainchild of the producers in their attempt to get the Oscar show's running time down to 3 hours -- which, frankly, would be a miracle given that it usually runs more than 4 hours. No word yet on whom the producers will choose to sing in place of Gabriel.

UPDATE: Here is the text of Peter Gabriel's letter:

"I was delighted when "Down to Earth" was nominated for an Oscar. I was also pleased to have been asked to perform the song in the Oscar ceremony. However, in recent discussions with the Producers, it became clear that despite there being only three nominees, only 60-65 seconds was being offered, and that was also in a medley of the three songs. I don't feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and have decided to withdraw from performing.

I fully respect and look forward to the Producers' right to revamp the show. Even though song writers are small players in the film making process, they are just as committed and work just as hard as the rest of the team and I regret that this new version of the ceremony is being created, in part, at their expense."

I still very much look forward to attending the ceremony."

Trumpeter Jon Hassell strives to unite North and South

By Alexander Varty,, February 12, 2009

Jon Hassell's résumé makes him sound like a charter member of music's Mensa club—and for good reason. The trumpeter's early mentor was the German visionary Karlheinz Stockhausen, and he later studied with Pandit Pran Nath, the North Indian guru to such pioneering minimalists as Terry Riley and La Monte Young.

He's also performed with Brian Eno, David Byrne, Ry Cooder, and Peter Gabriel—a who's who of the smartest people in popular music. And then there's the fact that it only takes a couple of minutes, once I reach him at home in Los Angeles, before we sail off into a discussion of polytonality versus atonality. For the record, Hassell prefers the former, although he has made close examination of pioneering serialist Anton Webern's scores.

Still, he stresses that he is an “untheoretical” musician. “For me the proof is in the sound,” he says. “And that's all that really matters.”

That sound—a digitally harmonized trumpet, blowing sweetly over shimmering clouds of electronics and deep, dublike bass lines—is one of the most gorgeous things going. You can pick it apart in terms of how his melodic lines derive from Hindu devotional singing, or how his rhythms have been impacted by West African drumming, but for Hassell it all comes down to reconciling North and South—which happens to be the topic of a book he's been working on for more than a decade.
“It's called The North and South of You, and the subtitle is Making the World Safe for Pleasure,” he explains. “Briefly put, if you project the body onto the globe or the globe onto the body, the northern situation of the body is intellectual or abstract, while the southern is sensual. In the global situation, it's like ‘developed' versus ‘underdeveloped'. And included in the underdeveloped category, of course, is just about all the music that we love.”

With his slow, dreamy, and often intricately patterned music, Hassell hopes to offer his listeners an experience that combines intellectual stimulation with sensual delight. And he delivers just that on his latest release, Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street, which takes its title from a Rumi poem and its inspiration from a little-known Norwegian festival.

“The hook, if you will, is that it's a remix festival,” he says of Punkt, which takes place in the seaside town of Kristiansand. “What happens is that a group is invited to perform in the big hall, and then simultaneously there's a remix going on in a smaller room.”

In concert with his quintet, Maarifa Street, Hassell explores similar terrain. He and Tunisian violinist Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche contribute melodies, bassist Peter Freeman provides the pulse, and laptop jockeys J. A. Deane and Jan Bang create live electronic soundscapes by sampling and processing the others' work.
“I'm trying to encourage everybody in this band to go places that are surprising,” he comments. And, more often than not, they do.

Jon Hassell and Maarifa Street play the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday (February 14).

13 février 2009

Peter Gabriel refuse de chanter seulement une minute aux Oscars, s'en retire

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Le musicien britannique Peter Gabriel, sélectionné aux Oscars pour une chanson du film d'animation "Wall-E", a annoncé vendredi qu'il refusait de chanter seulement une minute sur scène, comme demandé par les organisateurs, et qu'il préférait ne pas se produire.

Dans une vidéo visible sur son site officiel, le chanteur qui fête vendredi ses 59 ans explique que les organisateurs de la grande soirée du 7e art lui ont demandé de se limiter à "65 secondes" de "Down to earth", qui concourt dans la catégorie de la chanson originale.

"Nous pensions que les chansons seraient chantées en entier. Mais les producteurs (des Oscars) ont changé la formule en raison de la chute des taux d'audience télévisée. Alors j'ai décidé de me retirer de la cérémonie", a ajouté l'interprète de "Sledgehammer".

"Je pense que c'est un peu dommage, parce que nous les auteurs-compositeurs, même si nous ne représentons qu'une petite partie du processus d'élaboration des films, nous travaillons toujours sacrément dur et méritons, je pense, une place au sein de la cérémonie", a-t-il ajouté.

"Je suis un vieux type et cette petite protestation ne va pas m'être dommageable, mais je pense que ce n'est pas aussi facile pour les autres artistes", se justifie Peter Gabriel.

Deux autres titres sont sélectionnés dans la catégorie de la meilleure chanson originale: "Jai Ho" et "O Saya", tous deux représentant "Slumdog Millionaire", favori de la cérémonie dans la catégorie reine du meilleur film.

Contactée par l'AFP, l'Académie des arts et des sciences du cinéma, organisatrice de la cérémonie, n'a pas réagi dans l'immédiat à la décision de Peter Gabriel, qui a dit qu'il avait toujours l'intention d'assister aux Oscars le 22 février depuis une place dans le public.

Peter Gabriel dit non aux Oscars

Canoë 13-02-2009

Peter Gabriel
a renoncé à la prestation qu’il prévoyait offrir lors de la prochaine cérémonie des Oscars, qui aura lieu le 22 février au Hollywood Kodak Theater.

La chanson de Gabriel intitulée Down To Earth, tirée du film Wall-E, est en lice pour le prix de la meilleure chanson. Il espérait l’interpréter en entier, mais s’est ravisé quand il a appris qu’il ne disposerait que de 65 secondes pour la mettre en valeur, dans un pot-pourri.

Sur son blogue vidéo, que l’on peut lire sur son site officiel, Gabriel mentionne que cette décision de ne pas diffuser la chanson en entier est «déplorable», mais qu’il assistera quand même à la cérémonie.

«Nous souhaitions offrir une prestation, dit-il. Nous avions présumé, parce que seules trois chansons étaient sélectionnées, que ces dernières seraient interprétées en entier. Mais les producteurs ont décidé de modifier le scénario de la soirée pour revamper leurs cotes d’écoute».

«L’une de leurs décisions fut d’écourter les chansons. Ils ont restreint à 65 secondes, au sein d’un pot-pourri, le temps nous disposions. Nous avons donc choisi de ne pas monter sur scène, mais je serai dans la salle.»

«À mon avis, c’est un tantinet déplorable. Je crois que les auteurs-compositeurs, même si leur travail ne représente qu'une petite partie du processus de production d'un film, travaillent très fort. Nous méritons une place à la cérémonie.»

«Suis-je un vieux crouton? Oui, et ça ne me fera aucun mal de protester un peu. Mais je suis certain que la cérémonie sera très agréable et je suis enthousiaste à l’idée d’y assister.»

Jai Ho et O Sava sont les deux autres pièces en lice pour le prix de la meilleure chanson. Elles sont toutes deux tirées du film Slumdog Millionnaire.

11 février 2009

Down to Earth - Best Original Song Nominee

Singing for their Oscar.

Beginning today, I'll be spotlighting the Academy Award nominees for Best Original Song. I must tell you upfront that showcasing these songs is a bittersweet task for me.

As I've mentioned, no less that 342 times, Bruce Springsteen was not nominated for his Golden Globe winning song, "The Wrestler." Nevertheless, I will leave the tears on my pillow and soldier on to present to you the first of the three songs up for an Oscar on February 22.

Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, American Beauty, Road to Perdition) teamed up to produce "Down to Earth" for Disney/Pixar's Wall-E. If you've seen the wonderful film - and really, you should - you'll recognize the song from end credits.

"Down to Earth" has that very Academy-friendly sound; it's impressive fare, but feels similar to something you've probably sample before. Thomas Newman is also an Academy favorite, having been nominated for 10 Oscars.

Check out "Down to Earth," (and a little bit of Wall-E - so cute!) and see if you think it achieves blast-off.

10 février 2009

Peter's February update


Peter Gabriel
talks about a spate of award nominations and ceremonies including the Golden Globe Awards, the Grammy Awards and the Oscars's, all of which have 'Down To Earth' from Wall e in ther short lists. Enriching 'brain food' is recounted, having been eaten both at The World Economic forum and TED in the last couple of weeks. There is news of music from Charlie Winston and Spiro, whose track 'Antrobus' features in this months video. If that and the details missing from this description were not news a plenty, Peter also has an update on the forthcoming tour dates, 'Games Without Frontiers' on Real World Remixed and his work on the 'Scratch My Back' covers project in the studio. watch the video

Review: "Book of Love" pulses to the rhythmic beats of an amorous heart

by Brad Richason, Twin Cities Performance Art Examiner, February 9

Two dancers stand close to one another, familiar and at ease. As they exchange affectionate glances, more couples enter the stage. The gentle melody of Peter Gabriel's Book of Love begins to rise while the dancers respond in kind, drifting gracefully across the floor, their black and red attire swirling together into vibrant ever-shifting Valentines. So begins The Book of Love, an enchanting new production from the Beyond Ballroom Dance Company, now playing at the Southern Theater, in which every movement strikingly conveys another aspect of amorous captivation (...)

'Slumdog' vs. 'Wall-E' for best song

By Jon Burlingame, Variety, Mon., Feb. 9, 2009

No clear frontrunner among Oscar nominees

For the third time in the past 20 years, music-branch voters chose only three tunes as best song nominees. Two are from the same movie, and two of the singers are world-class world-music recording artists.

"Slumdog's" competition is the song from the end of the Disney-Pixar movie "Wall-E," co-written by Thomas Newman (also nominated for his score) and Peter Gabriel. The nom is Gabriel's first despite having composed scores for such films as "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence."

Eight of the past 20 song statuettes have gone to tunes from animated movies (all Disney pics but one). And nine of the past 20 have gone to popular artists (including Gabriel's ex-Genesis bandmate Phil Collins, for "Tarzan," another Disney toon). Also, Gabriel's human-rights and environmental activism would seem to coincide with the politics of many Acad voters.

And, in recent years, voters have spread the Oscar wealth among multiple pics. A "Slumdog" score win could translate into a "Wall-E" song win.

09 février 2009

B&W Music Club offers a 24-bit more

  • Submitted by: Bowers & Wilkins, Monday, 09 February 2009

The Peter Gabriel-curated B&W Music Club is expanding its campaign for high-quality music downloads by offering all new albums in 24-bit FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). These incredibly high-quality music files get listeners closer than ever to the sound the artist heard in the studio.

Starting with an exclusive first opportunity to hear the new album from Mercury Music Prize nominated Portico Quartet, all B&W Music Club albums, which are specially recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, will be available in this format. This means that subscribers have a choice of three formats for download. The new 24-bit FLAC format, a 16-bit FLAC version and a 16-bit Apple Lossless version. The new file format is also available for people on a free trial, who can download an EP of 24-bit lossless music.

Even with this improved choice, the decision making process for which format users should download remains a simple one: iTunes users should stick to the 16-bit ALC format; people wanting to burn the file to CD but use another music program can choose the 16-bit FLAC file. However, if you want to experience the benefits of 24-bit audio, then you can download the 24-bit FLAC file and listen to it either direct from your computer, stream it wirelessly using a device such as the Sonos system, or burn the file to DVD for playback in a disc player.

Since it’s launch in May 2008, B&W Music Club has brought members a wide variety of different musical styles, all from exceptional artists: Gwyneth Herbert; Dub Colossus; former Suede frontman Brett Anderson; guitarist Tom Kerstens; 16-year old piano prodigy Benjamin Grosvenor and an exclusive lossless EP download from Dave Stewart. Future releases include the new album from Dengue Fever, a band that blends Cambodian pop music with West Coast psychedelic rock.

B&W offers free trial memberships via its website, where users can download a four-track EP a month for three months. Full membership of B&W Music Club allows you to download the full album each month, and costs £23.95 for six months or £33.95 for a year, which works out less than £3 an album.

For further information please visit

Early Grammys Honor Film

Ayala Ben-Yehuda, L.A., February 08, 200

The soundtrack for "Juno" was the first winner at the 51st annual Grammy Awards, taking home the trophy for best compilation soundtrack. Meanwhile, James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer won best score soundtrack for "The Dark Knight." The Grammy for best motion picture song went to "Down To Earth" from the Disney/Pixar film "Wall-E." Thomas Newman, who co-wrote the song with singer Peter Gabriel, accepted the award. The song is also nominated for an Oscar. "Define Dancing," another collaboration by Gabriel and Newman from "Wall-E," won a Grammy for best instrumental arrangement. The film music Grammys were handed out today during the pre-telecast awards at Los Angeles' Staples Center. For's Grammy microsite, please click here.

Rocker Plant raises Grammys roof

Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant was the big winner at the Grammys, taking home five prizes for his collaboration with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.

The duo took the showpiece album of the year prize for Raising Sand along with record of the year for their single Please Read The Letter. Plant led aarray of British winners at the Los Angeles ceremony. Coldplay, Adele, Duffy, Radiohead and Peter Gabriel were among other UK stars to see success in Los Angeles.

Plant and Krauss also won best contemporary folk/Americana album, best country collaboration with vocals and best pop collaboration with vocals. "I'd like to say I'm bewildered," Plant told the audience "In the old days we would have called this selling out. But it's a good way to spend a Sunday."

Plant, 60, scotched rumours of a Led Zeppelin reunion last year to tour with Krauss, who at 37, now has 26 Grammys to her name. "It's been a wonderful time," Krauss said as she collected the album of the year award.(...)

Down to Earth remporte un Grammy

Par Kevin Laforet,, le 8 fevreir 2009

The Dark Knight, WALL-E et Juno remportent des Grammys

Lors de la 51e cérémonie des Grammy Awards, trois prix reliés au cinéma ont été remis. James Newton Howard et Hans Zimmer ont reçu le prix de la Meilleure musique de film pour The Dark Knight. Le Grammy de la Meilleure chanson composée pour un film est allé à Thomas Newman et Peter Gabriel pour Down to Earth, tirée de WALL-E. Enfin, la trame sonore de Juno, qui inclue des pièces de Kimya Dawson et de ses projets Moldy Peaches et Ansty Pants, a été récompensée dans la catégorie de la Meilleure compilation.

08 février 2009

World Music Icon Angelique Kidjo visits Oahu

Angelique Kidjo is one of the hottest names in World Music today attracting the admiration of audiences and other renown musicians alike. Her last album, Djin Djin featured guest appearances by Josh Groban, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Peter Gabriel, Ziggy Marley and Branford Marsalis. Angelique Kidjo will be performing at LCC Theatre on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 7 pm. Given that such a wide variety of notable musicians welcome the opportunity to collaborate with her, it should come as no surprise that Kidjo is backed by highly skilled musicians who support her in performances of original compositions as well as renditions of the songs of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, George Gershwin and others. Kidjo is fluent in Fon and Yoruba, languages of her birthplace of Benin, and father and mother, respectively. She is also fluent in English and French and performs in each of these languages.

Kidjo is a voracious consumer of music. She started out performing with her family as a child. When she got older, she moved to Paris where she studied progressively more advanced music and vocal techniques with various teachers while performing with different musical groups. As her career grew from supporting greats like Nina Simone and personal idol Miriam Makeba, to being recognized as a headliner in her own right, her cultural repertoire likewise grew. Over the years her albums have included rock, jazz, funk, Caribbean and Brazilian flavors and techniques mixed with her rich Beninese heritage.

While Kidjo's name may not be familiar to people, her music just might be via its appearance in pop culture. Her songs have appeared in episodes of the Simpsons, Six Feet Under, Without A Trace and on the big screen in Ace Ventura, Streetfighter, Krippendorf's Tribe, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, Sahara, and Blood Diamond. Just as her songs are representative of different parts of the world, Kidjo is also a fervent advocate for improving the lives of peoples around the globe. She has been UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. She created a foundation that supports and promotes secondary and higher education for girls in Africa. The number of occasions she has lent her talent to benefit or promote causes are legion.

Jon Hassell returns to Tennessee for first U.S. tour in two decades

By Steve Wildsmith of The Daily Times Staff, February 05. 2009

Jon Hassell may have roots deep into the West Tennessee soil, but his musical branches stretch toward stages and fans around the world.

Today, the Memphis-born trumpet player returns to his home state, playing only his second concert on U.S. soil in two decades (the first was on Thursday night). He has a new album -- "Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street" -- that continues the lifelong dedication he has for pushing the boundaries of composition and performance.

"My aim has always been to do something that pleases myself, and after having gone through the sort of intellectual side of things and the abstract side of things, I came up with this idea of 'Fourth World,'" Hassell told The Daily Times during a recent interview. "It was supposed to be a quickie logo that said something about First World technology and Third World spirituality and tradition. I've always felt as though I was doing something that was completely accessible -- something that had this sensuality to it that was immediately appealing, yet something that had some kind of clockwork and structure inside of it that was different than classical music or popular music or jazz.

"It was kind of my attempt to create a fictional village, if you will, where there's a return to tradition for our time using the technology we have today. It's a bit like sampling is used in hip-hop -- futuristic music with all of these samples, like taking something that happened in a studio in the 1950s and throwing it into this other atmosphere and making little mosaics out of it.
"Instead of having a tambura background, I have this background of tiny little one-second excerpts put together into this mosaic," he added. "If you look at it closely with a microscope internally, it's an abstraction, but on the surface, I'm going for beauty and sensuality."

Hassell's divergent career began at the Eastman School of Music, where he became more and more interested in experimental expression and the relatively new genre of music known as avant-garde. In the mid-1960s, he studied in Germany; upon returning to New York, he performed with both Terry Riley and La Monte Young before studying with Indian singer Pandit Pran Nath.

"They had brought him over to do concerts in New York, and that was a big revelation for me," Hassell said. "I was exposed to this whole pedagogical teaching process -- he would sing a phrase, and you would sing it back; if you didn't get it right, he would sing it again; if you still didn't get it right, he would simplify it for you. I was so blessed to have that way of learning something after going through the traditional Western educational system.

"Raga, to me, sounds like calligraphy in the air. It exposed me to a completely different way of looking at things. If you look at it in Western notations, it seems like a Western scale, but with all of the curves and the way the pitches are connected and formed, you wouldn't even relate it to a major scale.
"That became like a mirror, a lens, through which I saw everything else," Hassell added.

Hassell's education with Pran Nath led him to incorporate the vocal inflections of raga -- melodic modes used in Indian classical music -- into his trumpet playing, which developed an entirely new style for both his instrument and his music. His 1977 album, "Vernal Equinox," was the beginning of a lifelong quest to create music so integrated that any particular moment lifted from a specific composition could not be tied to a particular genre or nation.

Over the years, his music caught the ear of such producers, composers and musicians as Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Ry Cooder and U2's Bono. His playing has been featured in such films as "The Last Temptation of Christ," "Million Dollar Hotel" and "Angel Eyes," among others.

His new album, which returns Hassell to the ECM label on which he last recorded in 1984, takes its title from a 13th century poem. It's sublime in its beauty; atmospheric and haunting and futuristic, a record that wouldn't be out of place as the soundtrack to the classic sci-fi flick "Blade Runner" Ridley Scott. Hassell has described the record as a "continuous piece, almost symphonic, with a cinematic construction," and its genesis can be traced to the first step in Hassell's creative process -- sitting in a metaphorical dark room, purging himself of outside input, searching for the seed of a new creation that piques his interest.

"I've been working on a book for a long time called 'The North and South of You: Making the World Safe for Pleasure,'" Hassell said. "It's not a conventional book; it's more of a lot of headline pages with a lot of little sample quotations. It's almost structured from the point of view of sampling, and one of the pages is called, 'What is it I really like?'"

A return to Ethiopia's musical greatness

February 4th, 2009, By PRI's The World

Politics and music have not always mixed well in Ethiopia. But governments change — and the music survives, and evolves. A fine example is a new project that highlights the work of Ethiopian musicians today.

Before we get to the big thing out of Ethiopia today, first a quick rewind to the origins of Ethio-funk. Sure, some of Ethiopia's super-cool pop music in the 60s was a bit derivative. But there were also some great jazz players in Addis Abeba who were wholly original.

When Mengistu Haile Mariam took over in 1974, his Derg military government imposed an all-night curfew that lasted for years. It effectively killed the nightclubs in the Ethiopian capital. But singers and bands managed to keep their chops alive — not with audiences. But for each other in small, secretive recording studios.

By the time Mengistu was pushed from power in 1991, Ethiopia's music scene found itself basically starting from scratch. The traditional azmari singers — wandering troubadours — the artist you're hearing now for example, had never gone away.

Azmari gathering places began to come alive again in the mid-90s. Younger up-and-coming musicians made themselves known, and began gigging and recording again. Today, between the artists who kept active in the Mengistu years and the newer ones, Addis has begun to recapture some of its former musical prowess.

This track "Azmari Dub" shows a new face of Ethiopian popular music. It's part of a new music project titled A Town Called Addis. Nick Page is the producer. He's from the UK and is a frequent traveller to Ethiopia. For this project, Page goes by the name Dub Colossus. And the CD logically is titled "Dub Colossus in a Town Called Addis."

That's Ethiopian vocalist Sintayehu Zenebe.

Dub Colossus brought her and four other rising Ethiopian singers and instrumentalists into Peter Gabriel's Realworld studio in Britain. Dub Colossus comes from a reggae background, but he's also had interest in all manner of global musical idioms over the years. In a recent promotional video, Nick Page (aka Dub Colossus) explained why he was a champion of Ethiopian music.

“Addis is a very vibrant and exciting musical scene that has an awful lot to offer and needs some kind of exposure.”

With "Dub Colossus in a Town Called Addis," Nick Page is doing his part to re-elevate Ethiopian music. And it taps into that time-tested tradition in Ethiopia of fusing local sounds with those of the outside world.

Youssou N’Dour inspired musicians to retrace the steps of the slaves. He tells our correspondent why

by Ed Potton, From The Times, February 5, 2009

Youssou N’Dour was once described by Rolling Stone as “perhaps the most famous singer alive” for his popularity across Africa and beyond. In 2007, Time named the Senegalese man with the undulating voice among the world’s 100 most influential people. When I meet him in Paris, his sometime home, Franco-African crowds follow him wherever he goes. Men in the street shout “Yous!” Women in brightly coloured dresses queue for his autograph. Babies are held up to be kissed.

On this side of the Channel his star burns less brightly. Although he popularised the pulsating mbalax sound — which melds the musical storytelling of his country’s griot caste with Afro-Caribbean influences — he is still best known here for his crossover collaborations with Peter Gabriel (Shaking the Tree) and Neneh Cherry (Seven Seconds). When he performed at Live 8 , the only African artist to be invited, he was paired on stage, not with an Annie Lennox or a Bono, but with Dido. And the last time he visited the UK, they wouldn’t even let him in.

Our interview was meant to happen last spring, as N’Dour visited London to publicise his new documentary, Return to Gorée. But on the appointed morning, his PR people called to cancel, because their client was sitting in a UK immigration cell.

I finally track him down a few months later in the Parisian suburb of Noisy le Grand. Cymbals fill the summer air: N’Dour’s band are sound-checking for an open-air performance in the town square. “It was difficult,” he says of the ordeal. Still lithe at 49, he speaks pungently accented English, occasionally erupting into his native French. “The police asked why I was going to London. I said I was going to see some journalists. They were asking for a work permit. In the end I said: ‘I’m so tired — let’s go home’.”

In another sign of N’Dour’s shamefully low standing in this country, the cinema release of Return to Gorée was shelved; it arrives here only on DVD. Which is a shame because it tells a potent story that will have added bite for N’Dour after his incarceration. Gorée is an island off the Senegalese coast where African slaves were held before the westward voyage to the Americas. Now a museum, it’s a sad place, and a natural home for N’Dour’s exquisitely mournful voice, which a critic once said had “the history of Africa locked inside it”.

N’Dour’s plan was to celebrate the links between the black music of Africa and America by assembling a team of international musicians to perform a concert on the island. The film follows him to Atlanta, New Orleans and New York, where he recruits jazz, soul and gospel artists to make the trip. He had a particular affinity with the jazz men. “Maybe when the slaves left, they left with jazz and that’s why I’m so comfortable with the arrangements.”

It won’t be spoiling things to say that he pulls it off, and triumphantly so, performing in the courtyard of the building that once held his ancestors, as local children look on rapt. But it’s the Atlanta gospel singers, once they have been gently persuaded to replace their Jesus references with more universal sentiments, who provide the most unifying scene. Their close harmonies leave the museum’s wizened old curator visibly touched. For N’Dour — like the curator, a devout Muslim — it was “a very special moment. The music helped us to talk about the slaves’ difficulties”, while the movie “helped me forget a little bit”. But can he forgive? “Yes. If people are ready to talk about it then we can move forward.”

It’s not N’Dour’s first film about slavery. In 2007 he made his acting debut in the William Wilberforce biopic Amazing Grace as Olaudah Equiano, an African slave-turned-businessman who joins Wilberforce’s cause. Some saw him as a token black face in a sea of white ones, but he shrugs: “I played my role and didn’t think whether Africans were involved or not. My character did something amazing: he left behind his bad conditions, he joined a movement. It was important for me.”

He is more scathing about Live8, another Africa-orientated happening at which he was virtually the sole representative from his continent: “Next time, Live8 have to invite more people from Africa. I understand that to make people watch TV you need superstars, but the superstars can share the stage. You can’t do something for Africa and not invite Africans.”

He and his wife Aida still spend much of their time in Senegal’s capital. Dakar, where he was born, one of ten children. His father wanted him to go to school, but his maternal grandmother’s griot tradition took hold and music became his life. Now his domestic empire — studio, label, newspaper, club — employs more than 300 and he is a Unicef ambassador.

But this charismatic, diplomatic soul, so often co-opted as a figurehead for his country and his continent, refuses to take the next step. “Politics? I don’t think so,” he smiles, turning towards his band. “What I’m doing today is more than politics.”

Return to Gorée is out on DVD

Gary Go: Take That's top tip

By Mark Savage, BBC News entertainment reporter

Take That have hand picked up-and-coming pop star Gary Go as the opening act on their summer stadium tour. The London-born singer spoke to the BBC News website about his concert plans, his debut album and the patronage of the world's biggest "boy" band. (...)

His debut single, Wonderful, is a shimmering slice of sing-along songcraft. If you can imagine a more uplifting version of Coldplay's Yellow, you'll know exactly what it sounds like.

The lyrics: "You've got to look yourself in the eye and say, 'I am wonderful'", were the singer's personal pep talk after he flunked a job interview at Peter Gabriel's Real World recording studios in Bath.

"I went in to speak with the man himself," he explains, "and I made the mistake of saying I wanted to write my own songs. He looked me in the eye like Yoda and said: 'You should concentrate on your own music.' Afterwards, I was like, 'I've blown this amazing, world-class opportunity'. I was so distraught that I went home, got a little drum machine and just started recording tracks."

Can Documentaries Influence Public Opinion

February 5: Can Documentaries Influence Public Opinion, a NYWIFT Panel

It's 2009 and change is in the air. What role do documentaries play when it comes to influencing public awareness?

New York Women in Film and Television has assembled a panel of filmmakers known for telling stories that expose controversial subjects and difficult points of view. Katy Chevigny, Almudena Carracedo, Sarah Gibson, Tia Lessin, Meg Mclagan and Daria Sommers will show clips from their award-winning films and discuss how to craft documentaries with strong messages -- from the treatment stage through distribution.

Panelists include:

Arts Engine's own Executive Director, Katy Chevigny, is a documentary filmmaker, entrepreneur and nonprofit manager. Chevigny founded Arts Engine and its predecessor Big Mouth Productions. In 2000, she launched, a "knowledge commons" for filmmakers, activists, educators, and the general public, hosting info on over 7,000 films and the Media That Matters Film Festival, now in its eighth year. Chevigny recently directed the film Election Day (2007). She also co-directed the Emmy-nominated documentary Deadline (2004). Chevigny has produced many award-winning documentaries at Arts Engine, including: Arctic Son, Journey to the West: Chinese Medicine Today, Nuyorican Dream, Innocent Until Proven Guilty and Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America.
Tia Lessin is director and producer of Trouble the Water, her feature debut about two self-described street hustlers who survive Hurricane Katrina and seize a chance for a new beginning. ( Lessin also directed and produced the documentary short Behind the Labels in partnership with Peter Gabriel's human rights group Witness. She was awarded the Sidney Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism for the film, which is about labor trafficking of Chinese and Filipina women garment workers. She was a producer of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, and worked as a producer of the series, The Awful Truth, which earned her two Emmy nominations and one arrest.

Almudena Carracedo (appearing via Skype) is the Emmy Award-winning director and producer of Made in L.A., which follows the story of Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections ( Funded by ITVS, POV and the Sundance Documentary Fund, the film premiered on POV in 2007 and was praised by The New York Times as "an excellent documentary... about basic human dignity". Her previous film Welcome, A Docu-Journey of Impressions received the Sterling Award for Best Short at Silverdocs. Almudena, who was born in Spain, is the 2008 recipient of NALIP's ESTELA Award.

Critic's pick: Jon Hassell

By Walter Tunis Contributing Music Writer

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street

The primary exposure pop audiences have received to the immensely impressionistic but entirely modern music of trumpeter Jon Hassell has come through brief, sustained bursts.

In 1980, he was part of the dense funk turbulence that circulated around Talking Heads' masterful Remain in Light (that's Hassell sounding the muted trumpet call during Houses in Motion). That same year, he teamed with Remain in Light producer Brian Eno for an ambient worldbeat blend that Hassell has referred to as Fourth World music. But the resulting album's title speaks directly to Hassell's sense of artistic mischief: Possible Music.

Nearly a decade later he became part of a similarly ambient but more decidedly Eastern musical collage that Peter Gabriel designed as a soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, an album subsequently released as Passion.

There is considerably more to Hassell's career than those run-ins with the art rock elite. But because the trumpeter records infrequently and will tour (briefly) this winter in the United States for the first time in 20 years, it is easy to allow his daring atmospherics to slip into the ether. Indeed, many of Hassell's recordings could be graphed in ways that reflect his artistic and commercial visibility. One minute, his trumpet rings through a spacious portrait of broken grooves and darkly woven sonic backdrops. The next, it disappears into that fabric entirely.

On a new album with the luxuriant title of Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street, Hassell modernizes further the ambient world around him. It is dominated by spacious music where trumpet, violin and strains of echoing guitar rise from, and fade into, a sea of sample-laden musical shorelines.

The album's 11-minute title tune reflects much of the album's sense of mystery. A two-note chorus seemingly filtered through processed strings (there's no telling how it was really created) is repeated like a mantra. Over a calming center, Hassell and his cohorts add electronic gurgles, glowing shards of keyboards and fragments of trumpet that alternately seek to sooth and puncture the otherworldly music.

The slow-motion montage Courtrais works from a similar makeup. Hassell's muted horn has a more sustained presence here, but he favors coloring a surface populated by chimelike keyboards and modest sampled drones — much in the way Miles Davis did on In a Silent Way, only without such direct grooves — than play conventional, compositional phrases.

Such moments are both warm and wintry. The album-opening Aurora suggests a return to Hassell's Fourth World concept with a faint air of Eastern percussion (that we can only assume was constructed by samples as no drummer of percussionist is credited) before the tune quietly implodes into a contemplative wash of keyboards that trumpet and guitar subtly augment.

On the closing Light on Water, with mock percussion again summoning a steady but synthetic rhythm, Hassell once more evokes the spirit and cool of Davis in a tune that sings a haunting, wordless melody. How apt. The album takes its lengthy title from a 13th-century Sufi poem by Jalaluddin Rumi. Its next line: “I took it as a sign to start singing.” And sing Last night does, in its own wondrously ethereal and indefinable fashion.

Davos: Peter Gabriel Sings Biko

Thomas Crampton, Hong Kong-based digital strategist, Posted February 1, 2009

The most amazing session I attended this year in Davos was a 2-hour Dignity Day event in a local school auditorium. Speakers included the schoolchildren, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel, who sang Biko a capella. Hearing Desmond Tutu speak was an incredible experience. I have rarely seen someone captivate and hold an audience with such simplicity, humility and light heartedness. At the end of the event Peter Gabriel led the entire room in singing his tribute to Steve Biko.

A world of music

Philippa Kennedy, The , February 01. 2009

Along with acclaimed acts from across the globe, Womad’s festival director, Chris Smith, hopes to highlight Arabic music. Jaime Puebla for The National

The unmistakable sound of Peter Gabriel’s Steinway grand piano reverberated through the floors of the studios of Real World Records, in the English village of Box, Wiltshire. Staff returning from lunch were intrigued and followed the music to the “big room”, as they call it. There, sitting at the piano, totally absorbed, was a young musician from a reggae group comprised of the British producer Nick Page and a troupe of musicians from the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa.
“He was in awe of the sound and oblivious to everyone else. About five or six people stood there in amazement, listening to him playing. Luckily, an engineer had the presence of mind to flick the switch and it was all recorded,” says Chris Smith, the 46-year-old festival director of Womad, the world music event co-founded by Real World’s boss, Peter Gabriel.

As he relates the story of Samuel Yirga from Dub Colossus, Smith’s joy is clear to see. This is exactly the kind of moment for which Womad and Real World exist. Already holding annual festivals in various locations around the globe – including the UK, Spain, New Zealand and Australia – Womad has set its sights on the UAE. In fact, Smith is here in connection with the organisation’s plans to hold an event in the capital in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach).

“So many people have remarkable talents and we are able to give them a platform. That’s what makes Womad unique,” he says. “If you go to see George Michael in a football stadium you kind of know what you’re going to get, but if you come to a Womad festival you may be familiar with some of the artists, but most of them you will not have heard of before. You get the chance to learn something about music.”

Scheduled for the end of April, headline acts for the Abu Dhabi Womad have not yet been named, but Smith reveals that he is already in talks with major international artists and a list of regional favourites for what promises to be a “magical” first concert at the Jahili Fort in Al Ain.

From the way he talks, it is obvious that Smith is taken with the region. “The first time we walked in to the Jahili Fort, the call to prayer started and it was incredible,” he recalls. “When you hear that in a place like Al Ain it’s just amazing.”

He then moves on to talk of the music that drives Womad events. “We are a multi-stage festival but we will open in Abu Dhabi with a single stage and a big-name headline performer. That is what we always do because we need names that people are familiar with to draw audiences in. Then we programme those well-known artists with people that nobody has heard of before. The plan is that we draw people in with the main acts but that they will leave talking about the others.”

Previous Womads have included artists as diverse as the Touareg guitar group Tinariwen, Egypt’s Bedouin Jerrycan Band, Konono No1 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Algerian-born rai artist Rachid Taha and the acclaimed Jamaican reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry. However, says Smith: “It is important that we also get other artists from the Middle East, especially the Emirates.”

Unfortunately, thanks to touring commitments, Peter Gabriel, the former Genesis singer and solo artist, is unlikely to perform in Abu Dhabi. However, his initial vision for the festival will remain an inspiration.

“Womad came about through a shared passion for music from other cultures,” Smith says. “There is still an international obsession with western music, but Womad’s founders knew that there were thousands of artists around the world who were performing work of enormously high quality but who weren’t getting the audiences and recognition they deserved. The idea was to give them a platform and, following on from that, to provide an opportunity for them to collaborate with western artists. Real World Records was set up to record this music and its primary catalogue is of world artists. Very often an artist who plays at Womad will go on to record for Real World,” says Smith.

For instance, the label’s output includes Soul Science, a CD by Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara. Adams is a UK-based guitarist, while Camara is a ritti (African fiddle) player and vocalist from the Gambia. Both artists met while performing for Womad and now record and tour together.

Gabriel’s idea for Womad – along with co-founders Thomas Brooman and Bob Hooton – was to give audiences an insight into different cultures through the enjoyment of music. Since the first festival in the UK in 1982, the organisation has held more than 160 events in 27 countries.

Over the years Womad line-ups have featured a wealth of global artists, many of whom have gone on to achieve significant international success. Among its most famous performers are the Senegalese vocalist Youssou N’Dour and the late Pakistani qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Talks between Adach and Womad started just over a year ago. By way of research Abdulla Salim al Amri, the director of arts and culture at Adach, attended Womad’s concert in the Spanish city of Cáceres in May, where he met Smith.

“What I tuned into in my conversations with Abdulla was that Abu Dhabi wanted to celebrate culture,” says Smith. “That’s what developments such as the Guggenheim and Louvre museums are all about. It’s not about entertainment for its own sake, but the depth and richness of world culture. That’s a very good fit for what we do.
“We discussed the role of world music in Abu Dhabi and its ambitions, as a cultural centre, to celebrate Arabic music. We also talked about another important aspect: the role of the festival in developing indigenous culture as opposed to the commercial aspect of some of the events that have happened in the Gulf in the past. Now we have a date in the diary and a great deal of excitement for the project.”

Following the Jahili Fort concert will come two free beach shows on the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Two massive stages will be built, interlinked by a structure containing areas where children’s workshops will be held. Both sites will be decorated with more than 1,000 distinctive Womad flags and animated projections will be beamed onto the surrounding buildings.

The next few weeks will be a frenetic round of activity as organisers begin to source fencing, Portakabins, lighting and sound equipment, air-conditioning units, generators and plan the festival’s logistics.

“One of my staff will be based here for the next month, identifying what needs to be done and getting the infrastructure in place,” Smith explains. “It’s a bit like the proverbial swan that glides along the river, but under the water its feet are paddling like mad. This visit has been very reassuring as there is much more here than we thought. The events industry is growing and we will source as much as we can here.”

In between shuttling between Abu Dhabi and the UK, Smith is also masterminding Womad’s other events: Australia and New Zealand in March, Spain in May, Sicily in June and the organisation’s biggest date, held in Wiltshire’s Charlton Park in July.
“We’re also doing the Tower of London in September and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands in November. I may well be divorced by then,” he jokes.

Organisers are expecting the Abu Dhabi Womad to bring a number of visitors to the city, many of whom will be drawn by the music on offer. However, Smith emphasises that Womad is about much more than just sound.

“Womad stands for World of Music and Dance and the focus is very much on the music, but we are keen to reclaim the art and dance elements in the future. Because of the time scale, it is unlikely that a massive amount of dance or art will be commissioned for Abu Dhabi this year, but next year we will be in a position where we can do something truly unique.

“We would look to work with artists from the region. Events are only successful when you have strong partners in the place where you are working. You can’t just land from the UK and produce a festival of the type that we do. We want access to schools and the community and to make sure that the audience is representative of the population – not just the population that can afford to buy tickets. We also expect our featured artists to get involved with projects and workshops involving local children.”

The issue of involving children is of key importance to Smith. Indeed, his own family – daughters Olivia, 13, Imogen, nine, Tara, seven, and their mother Arleen – are all looking forward to visiting Abu Dhabi. “They don’t come to every Womad festival but they are definitely coming to this one,” he says.

A novel aspect of recent festivals has been the introduction of onstage cooking by the musicians performing at the festivals. Billed as Taste the World, in this Womad event artists talk the audience through the process of cooking a dish from their native country. In Cáceres, Miriam Hassan, a Sahrawi singer from western Sahara prepared a meal that required camel meat.

“She cooked the sort of dish you would have at desert camp. The ingredients gave us a few problems in Spain. We hope to bring her here, where it won’t be an issue at all,” says Smith. “It’s a great part of the festival. We get the artists on stage and they talk and share aspects of their own cultures. Food, like all other parts of a culture, is central to what society is about. We like to think that this is representative of what we do as well.”

Elders call on Zimbabweans to unite to end suffering / International donors should support transition efforts

HARARE, Zimbabwe, January 31, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Elders have called on Zimbabweans to unite to end the terrible suffering in their country and urge international donors to support the latest step towards the formation of a new government.

In Harare on Friday, the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai announced that it will join a government of national unity, allowing the Global Political Agreement signed last September to be implemented.

“This is an important step towards ending the political impasse in Zimbabwe,” said former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “but it is not a guarantee that Zimbabwe’s distress is over. Rebuilding the economy and ending the peoples’ terrible suffering will take much more work on the part of all Zimbabweans, regional leaders and the international community.”

Chairman of the Elders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said, “We will be watching closely to ensure that the agreement between the political parties is implemented fairly. But the people of Zimbabwe can no longer be held hostage by politics. Their urgent needs must be met.”

President Carter said: “This political agreement is far from perfect - but political life involves taking risks. The international community should now do what it can to give this agreement the best chance of success. Talking it down will not improve the situation for Zimbabweans - it will only prolong their agony.”

Three members of the Elders, Mr Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter and Mrs Graça Machel travelled to southern Africa in November to assess the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. Informed that they would not be welcome in Harare, they arranged to meet heads of UN agencies, donors, regional political leaders and Zimbabwean civil society representatives over three days in Johannesburg. They were shocked by what they learned in November, and say that since their visit the crisis has escalated.

“Conditions since we visited are even worse”, said Graça Machel. “We should now respect the decisions made by Zimbabweans about their future and do all we can to ease the suffering of the people. It is essential that hospitals and schools reopen and water supplies are made safe. But we must also monitor what is happening very closely at the political level and encourage all parties to work in good faith to implement the terms of the Global Political Agreement.”

About The Elders:

The Elders is a group of eminent global leaders convened by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel to bring their experience and independent voices to the resolution of conflict and to support innovative, cooperative efforts to address great global challenges of our time. Based on an initiative by Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of The Elders in July 2007 in Johannesburg on the occasion of his 89th birthday.

The Elders are: Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus. Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary Elder.

SOURCE : The Elders

Dignity Day

Archbishop Tutu Joins Young Global Leader and Global Dignity Co-Founder John Hope Bryant to Promote the Right to Live a Dignified Life During the Annual World Economic Forum

DAVOS-KLOSTERS, SWITZERLAND -- 01/31/09 -- John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE (HOPE) CEO and founder, traveled this week to meet with world leaders and corporate chiefs to participate in the 2009 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Bryant, along with fellow YGLs and Global Dignity (GD) co-founders, will join Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others in a special teaching session aimed at helping to solve world problems, while connecting with every person's common need for respect and dignity.

Global Dignity co-founders H.R.H Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Professor Pekka Himanen, a leading philosopher and author, and "silver rights" entrepreneur John Bryant empowered and inspired more than 250 youth at the Swiss Alpine School, shaping their futures through dignity during the 39th Annual World Economic Forum. Dignity Day, Davos also featured global leaders Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Finnish President Tarja Halonen, business mogul Richard Branson, and Miss Universe South Africa 2008, Tansey Coetzee, and 40 YGLs. The session was further enhanced by a performance from music icon and international humanitarian, Peter Gabriel. (...)

Gabriel’s Music Sites Share Technology

By Patrick Smith, PaidContent, Fri 30 Jan 2009

Gabriel’s Music Sites Share Technology; Are They Just Digging In The Dirt?

Two music ventures backed by Peter Gabriel have done the sensible thing in an ever-crowded online music space and teamed up to share technology and make the most of the Gabriel association: ad-funded music player We7 is supplying tracks to music recommendation site The Filter for a online radio player on

There are no plans for the radio service to be hosted on We7 at the moment. Both firms are venture backed by Gabriel’s Real World company and this latest deal is an extension of an existing relationship that gives We7 use of The Filter’s recommendation technology. So We7 has the tracks, The Filter has the tech and the sharing is now mutual.

Recommendation music sites aren’t anything new—Las.tfm has a large and growing UK audience and such sites have to contend with iTune’s Genius—but We7 says its stats have demonstrably gone up since it started using The Filter’s technology, which was developed by British tech firm Exabre. So with all this cooperation between We7 and The Filter, and their shared benefactors in the shape of Gabriel’s Real World Group, might one could gently suggest that a more formal merger would be the natural next step… teams up with We7 to bring personalised radio stations to the web

Monument PR Worldwid, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Peter-Gabriel backed website launches unique new personalised radio player

January 29, 2009 - In challenging economic times, it is always the businesses that work smarter that prosper and Bath-based entertainment recommendation and discovery service,, is leading the way in innovative commercial thinking. The Peter Gabriel-backed website, which launched last year, has partnered up with ad-funded music service, We7, to provide free, personalized online radio stations to its growing user base.

Last year, The Filter provided We7 with its market-leading recommendation technology; this partnership has been expanded to cover radio fulfillment from We7. We7 already has agreements with the music labels in the UK, as well as a strong ad-supported infrastructure to cover streaming costs. The Filter has used this opportunity to develop a fantastically high value feature which fills a current void in the UK market.

“By partnering with We7 we have created a radio player based on our unique recommendation technology. This is another new feature which will help our users with their entertainment discovery journey. As a result we have already seen dwell time and page views on the website increase substantially, and we will build on this during the rest of the year with a number of new features and further changes to” said CEO, David Maher Roberts.

The new radio stations on The Filter are powered by advanced recommendations technology, meaning that UK users will get a personalised radio station based on their individual music tastes. The stations are set up so that each user will hear songs they are familiar with as well as specially selected songs that are outside of their current taste-circle, so that they can discover new artists. The users can also choose to listen to their friends’ stations, or play from over thirteen genre stations.

About The Filter

The Filter is a personalised content filtering system that aggregates entertainment and information and connects users to content that reflects their tastes and moods. The developers behind The Filter are world leading British software company Exabre. They are backed by high profile investors, including Peter Gabriel's Real World Group and Eden Ventures.

The Filter has been downloaded in 164 countries. Its database currently includes over 5m songs, 330k movies and more than 50m individual purchases and playlists. The Filter works by using Bayesian mathematics. It was developed by Martin Hopkins, a physicist who was struggling to manage his growing digital music collection. The Filter currently has partnerships with Nokia Music Store (beta), Ministry of Sound and MSN Music

Marc Ambasna-Jones
Monument PR Worldwide
t: +44 (0)1225 747214
m: +44 (0)7966 510702

Allie Fisher
T: +44(0)1225 788000
F: +44(0)1225 481824

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan Talks New Album

By Joseph Patel, Published by MTV News on Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan Talks New Album While I Try To Work Up The Courage To Propose To Her

Yesterday, things on our floor came to a standstill as we welcomed the lovely and talented Natasha Khan to the MTV News offices. Some of you may know the half-British, half-Pakistani Khan by her nom de guerre, Bat for Lashes, or by her lesser-known standing as my future wife. Either way, we were all sort of transfixed because she makes beautiful, dystopian pop music and carries herself with this whimsical-but-thoughtful abandon, and she’s pretty gorgeous all the way around. Win/win/win.

Anyway, the Bat for Lashes song, “What’s a Girl to Do,” and its “Donnie Darko”-inspired music video, is what got me hooked on Khan and her music a couple of years ago, and she’ll be releasing her second album, Two Suns, in April. She was stopping by New York for a week, on her way to Brazil to shoot a video for a new song called “Daniel.” We took some time to talk about Two Suns.

Khan says she was inspired a lot by the eclectic range of 1980s pop, and artists like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and the Cure, who we look back on and remember fondly. She also admitted to us that she channeled a little bit of Beyoncé and her alter-ego Sasha Fierce on this album, in that she too created a character — in this case, Pearl — in which to sing her new songs through. We’ll let Natasha explain more thoroughly.

We’ll have more from this Bat for Lashes interview coming to you in the next few days. I’ll also let you know where we will be registering for our wedding.