‘Mysterious, dynamic, unpredictable’ | Interview with Shanu

A Chuvash folk song reimagined and embellished with a modern, cosmopolitan touch. Unforgettable vocals and a unique sound. Read our interview with Shanu below and get to know the story behind the track!

Describe your sound in three words please!

Mysterious, dynamic, unpredictable

Your song is based on the folk song ‘Selime’. How does your version interact with the original track? What are the additions, differentiations and also motivation for changing this particular song?

We were attracted by the theme of the song, its dance rhythmic basis, its energy. The plot of the story is also interesting, the song shows a feminine perspective on the issues of unrequited love, desire for revenge and forgiveness. Emotions and experiences are implicitly conveyed in the text. In our composition, we save only the theme of the original song and intonation variations in the vocals. The shape and structure of the parts have changed. We added harmonic progression and instrumental polyphony. Now the song’s canvas also includes interspersing of musical elements from various world cultures.

Your music has a clear influence from Aziza Mustafa Zadeh. What are your other influences?

New York Gypsy all Stars, Now vs Now, John McLaughlin and Shakhti, Alberto Ginastera, Johann Sebastian Bach, Astor Piazzolla, Gyorgy Ligeti, Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, Deep Purple, King Crimson, Authentic Light Orchestra, 7/8 band, Nadishana , Sullivan Fortner, Brad Mehldau, Eldar Djangirov, Zakir Hussain, Lydian Collective, Bireli Lagrene, Vitaly Kis, Sergey Filatov, Sylvain Luc, Enver Izmaylov, Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra, Ivo Papazov, Sarah Mavket, Guneskoh, Alex Muren, Bill Evans, Gogo Penguin, Badbadnotgood, Ofunkillo, Chris de Burgh, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Miles Davis, Bob Marley, Nino Katamadze.

What characterises the Chuvash culture? What are the efforts currently implemented for the preservation of this minority language?

The Chuvash culture, since it has archaic roots, is rich in ancient folk melodies, and ancient pagan traditions has also been preserved in it. The Chuvash language is the only surviving language of the Bulgar group of Turkic languages. At the moment there is a certain scientific interest in the study of language and culture in general. Meanwhile, in 2009 UNESCO already ranked the Chuvash language among the endangered languages. In Russia, the study of native languages is not compulsory now therefore, the issue of preserving the language has become acute today. We are from Tatarstan (the state languages here are Russian and Tatar). А program for the preservation and revival of the cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of Tatarstan, including the Chuvash, is being actively implemented here. So, our group was provided with support grant from the Tatneft company, which made it possible to record an album, and the Kazan label “Yummy Music” also helps us in the development.

What is your favorite album of the past year?

These albums are in our playlists : Dianne Reeves “When you Know”, Gogo Penguin “Man Made Object”, Skalpel “Skalpel”, Bring Back “Alfa Mist”, Tigran Hamasyan “The Call Within” and the musicians listed in answer 3.

What does success mean for you going forward?

We call it success, when music becomes a full-fledged source of income for musicians; tours and performances all around the world can also be noted as a positive indicator.

What would be your dream performance venue?

Japan. The country is interesting because it was once closed, and then opened to the whole world, let in a lot of different music, showed the world its interesting creative potential. It seems that this country has a good audience, they love jazz and are open to new things, to experiments in music.

Do you have an album in your short-term future plans?

Yes, we are in the process of creating it.

Thanks Shanu!

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