Editor’s Note: Los Angeles became a central location for Black Lyon, who have members from Venezuela, Turkey, Netherlands, and Brazil. Black Lyon draws their major influences from Sia, Clean Bandit, and Lana Del Ray while drawing from the romantic musical compositions of John Williams. Black Lyon formed in 2017 and they’re already making waves with their eclectic sound. In this edition of “The Musician’s Tribune”, each member was generous enough to write about music and culture from their respective homelands, and sharing a special Spotify playlist with us from their respective cultures. Fans can find Black Lyon at the following locations:
Barbara Schucko: Brazil
Brazilian music has always taken roots in heavy syncopation and rich harmonic elements. I grew up listening to artists like Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Paulinho da Viola, Elis Regina, Jorge Ben Jor, Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Novos Baianos, etc. – so if you’ve been wanting to check out some roots Brazilian, please do take a listen to some music by those fantastic artists.
I think music and dance – well… and food – are the parts of my culture that I miss the most when I’m away. This playlist goes deep into my nostalgia moments, however, in the contemporary side of Brazilian music. It’s a scene that I believe is discovering a lot of its own sonic textures mixing traditional instruments and grooves with modern electronic sounds, and taking its poetry at times in a very minimalistic route, at other times in a very deep and metaphorical one. It’s definitely an exciting time to experience music as it morphs with all the technology we have available now.
The playlist features the following songs from Brazilian artists:
Eu Estou Aqui – Baleia
Malemolência – Céu
Eu Não Valho Nada – Lagum feat. Cynthia Luz
Escopo – Ana Muller
Deixa – Lagum feat. Ana Gabriela
Eu Não Preciso de Ninguém – O Terno
Caju – Silva
Cuidado – Tuyo
Azul Moderno – Luiza Lian
Me Deixa Legal – Maglore
Alex Mor: Venezuela
To understand the current music scene in Venezuela, one cannot ignore the 20-year-old communist dictatorship that would make, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2.1 million Venezuelans emigrate to other countries, splitting the Venezuelan music scene in multiple locations worldwide.
It is difficult to pinpoint where some of these artists reside since many constantly move from their country to another place. Some bands even have their members in different locations, which mirrors the situation of Venezuelan families. However, the time has proven that Mexico and the United States have been two of the most important countries for Venezuelan artists to find great opportunities, while some others are still building their careers in Venezuela.
Let’s start with Mexico, which currently shelters over 32,000 Venezuelans. It has become the home of indie/rock bands such as Los Mesoneros (their song “Dime Como Tu Quieras” is highly recommended), Versed, La Vida Boheme, Okills; the rapper McKlopedia; and alternative pop artists such as Andrea Lacoste, and Lolita de Sola (whose song “Aquí” is a must). Also, some band members from the Reggae-Pop band Rawayana reside in Mexico.
And then a bit north, the United States, which currently has over 290,000 Venezuelans, it is the second country to shelter the most Venezuelans after Colombia. Miami is the primary place for Venezuelans to reside, so naturally, it currently has amazing artists experimenting with different musical elements, such as the alternative rock songwriter Gamboa whose song “Osaka” has hit #1 in Venezuela for a couple of weeks (though his song “Colores” is my personal favorite).
Other artists such as Simon Grossmann lead the scene with laid back rhythms and organic sounds. Moreover, upcoming artist Alejo Santiago (who I had the opportunity to see live last December) shows a promising future. Also, if one is going to talk about Venezuelans in Miami it’s important to mention reggaeton artists such as Danny Ocean, Nacho, and Chyno Miranda.
Going to the Northeast, New York is probably the house of fusion, jazz, and experimental Venezuelan artists in the United States, currently having amazing interpreters such as the singer Nella (Her song “Me Llaman Nella” is a must), the virtuoso piano player Baden Goyo, and my favorite from this city: New Caracas. Its leader, Luis D’Elias, managed to mix elements of Venezuelan traditional music with rock, jazz, and even theatrical music which is evident in songs such as “Más Allá del Sol” and “Orígenes y Destinos.”
Furthermore, going to the west coast we can find great musical projects and bands lead by talented Venezuelans. Some cool projects are the alternative rock band led by André Rodríguez: Coat Check Girl, the Latin-fusion ensemble Josu Ortiz Latin Jazz Band, whose song “Merenguísimo” is one of the best examples of his incredible musicianship (actually, the whole album “Black And White Steps” is an incredible musical journey). And then there is Black Lyon, which I have to mention since its Venezuelan singer and guitarist, Alex Mor, has to be one of the most talented musicians I’ve met, and he’s handsomely hot (I promise I am not biased).
But all the roads lead to Caracas, Venezuela. The place that once held shows from the beloved Venezuelan Grammy-winning singer Simón Díaz, the composer-arranger-pianist-conductor Aldemaro Romero (who, in my personal opinion, is the greatest musician Venezuela ever had), and Sentimiento Muerto, the most influential rock band in Venezuela.
This is the place where it all started for many of us Venezuelan musicians, and it’s only fair to mention some of the great artists that still reside there. The upcoming band Cala Mazú is one of my favorites, they’re really promising with their funky sounds. Also, bands such as Anakena (their song “Sofia” is great) and Rawayana still have part of their members in Venezuela. Other great bands I should mention are Le Cinema and Gran Radio Riviera.
It’s important to highlight, despite the constant power outages due to the current state of the country, musicians find a way to keep themselves creative and going out to show their music, even if it means going unplugged or creating their own homemade gigs.
Places such as El Poliedro and La Rinconada carried historic nights from concerts from Guns N’ Roses, Queen, Metallica, and Soda Stereo. The Teatro Teresa Carreño, the most important theater in Venezuela and home of El Sistema, has received international artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Paco de Lucía, B.B. King, Fito Páez and Gustavo Cerati. But sadly, due to the many problems going on in Venezuela, these places no longer offer their spaces.
Popular venues such as Teatro Bar and Discovery also had to close their doors, but there are some that still try their best like Cúsica and La Íntima at Zuka Bar, which have become important stages for both upcoming and already established artist.
As I mentioned before, it’s difficult to pinpoint where some of these artists are right now, and that truly mirrors the situation of Venezuelans in the world. Having left the country corrupted many of us in a good way. We opened our ears to new sounds and cultures and that influenced our music heavily. That theme of traveling and never coming back is mentioned across different songs from different Venezuelan artists, it’s a common theme of our situation. Our art has become more politically and socially aggressive, something very obvious in Indie-Rock bands such as Viniloversus and Famasloop.
We are travelers and dreamers. Constantly wandering around the globe exposing our culture and letting others influence our sounds. But with the way the winds are changing, the collapse of the communist dictatorship is imminent. And if everything goes well, it seems Caracas will hold the big stage once again, clamoring for all those Venezuelan artists around the globe to come back home.
The playlist features the following songs from Venezuelan artists:
Colores – Gamboa
Aquí – Lolita de Sola
Orígenes y Destinos – The Luis D’Elias Ensemble (Now called New Caracas)
Merenguísimo – Josu Ortíz Latin Jazz Band
Sofía – Anakena
Dime Como Tú Quieras – Los Mesoneros
Luna Llena – Simón Grossmann
Mil Maneras – Versed
Me Voy Enamorando – Chino Y Nacho Feat. Farruko
Pajarillo En Ona Nueva – Aldemaro Romero
Bas Jansse: The Netherlands
The Dutch music scene has always been a very interesting melting pot for music as there’s not many musical genres to come out of the Netherlands, but the way they’ve welcomed and adopted many musical styles and put their own flavor on it. But one style that did come from the Netherlands is Dutch EDM music that we are all familiar with from mega producers such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto and Martin Garrix. These producers have made a worldwide phenomenon that has even made it to the American charts and earned them features with Bebe Rexha, Post Malone etc as seen in the playlist as well as hits of their own.
Nowadays you hear a lot of American pop music in the Dutch charts, but then there is also their attempt and spin on the styles they’ve welcomed. You hear country adaptations, modern pop/hip hop EDM adaptions, but I’ve decided to mostly featured music that has not come from America. They have adopted a lot of music from Africa, mostly Afro-beat originating from Nigeria.
All in all Dutch music is basically Dutch people figuring out how to put their language over music from all over the world.
The playlist features the following songs from Dutch artists:
IJskoud – Nielson
Hij Is Van Mij – Kris Kross Amsterdam feat. Bizzey
Achtbaan – Frenna feat. Philly Moré
Monkey See – Candybar Planet
Blah Blah Blah – Armin van Buuren
Jackie Chan – Tiësto feat. Dzeko, Preme & Post Malone
In The Name of Love – Martin Garriz & Bebe Rexha
The Second Waltz, Op. 99a – André Rieu
Kapot – Valzbezig
Ece Muniroglu: Turkey
Turkey is a country with lots of culture and history. Having this kind of wide history affected many things in art culture including the music scene. Turkish folk music, Turkish classical music, classical western music has been very significant for the Turkish music scene. Turkish folk and classical music have a lot of traditional elements and the roots come from the Ottoman and Anatolian period. If you ever visit Turkey you can see the history in the architecture and in the music. Turkish pop music comes a little later and has been popular since the last thirty-forty years.
In the playlist, we want to show some variety of genres from traditional to pop. You’ll find some microtonal music, played by traditional instruments such as Qanun, Saz. You’ll also find some pop/rock music from different time periods. Hope you’ll enjoy it!
The playlist features the following songs from Turkish artists:
Yine Bir Gul-Nihal Aldi Bu Gonlumu – Dede Efendi
Lal – Sertab Erener
Black Earth (Kara Toprak), Op. 8 – Fazil Say
Bir Derdim Var – mor ve ötesi
Cambaz – mor ve ötesi
Harip (Hicaz Saz Sermaisi) – Göksel Baktagir
Tam Ortasindayim – MFÖ
Brodrum – MFÖ
Sen Nerdesin? – Timur Selçul
Karanfil Yeni Türkü
And there you have it! Check out their single for “Down Down” below:
* Photo Credit: Miguel “Gara” Alvarez