A musical meeting place of genre-shattering artists from diverse cultures, whose global-minded music reflects multiple influences and recombinant identities.

There’s a place in the sea where salt and sweet water meet and coexist, but don’t dilute one another…barzakh. The two-day Barzakh Festival draws inspiration from this idea to create a meeting place of musical streams of genre-shattering artists from diverse cultures, whose global-minded music reflects multiple influences and recombinant identities.

Wednesday, Mar 6 @ 7:30pm

  • Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 / Alsarah & The Nubatones.
  • Nigeria’s Afrobeat crown prince meets Sudanese retro-pop queen.
  • Opening and between shows DJ set by James Locksmith.

Friday, Mar 8 @ 7:30pm

  • Lekhfa (Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca & Tamer AbuGhazaleh) & Altin Gün
  • Egypt’s off-kilter sound of sonic grit and beauty meets funky Turkish psych folk.

“Barzakh Festival is the UAE’s widest celebration of global sounds since Womad Abu Dhabi shut up shop in 2010.” – The National

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80, the extraordinary dance orchestra created by Fela Kuti as a conduit for the common people, renamed (from Africa 70) reflect black African origins in ancient pharaonic civilization. Seun has followed the political and social ethos of his father, Fela Kuti. Along the way, he has added his own twist to the music, digging deep into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures. About three quarters of the current Egypt 80 line-up consists of musicians that played with Fela Kuti.

Listen to the music

“Here I’m giving honor to my parents and to every revolutionary who has made a difference, many of them from before I was born.” – Seun Kuti

Alsarah & The Nubatones

Alsarah & the Nubatones were born out of many dinner conversations between Alsarah and Rami El Aasser about Nubian ‘songs of return’, modern migration patterns and the cultural exchanges between Sudan and Egypt. A common love for the richness of pentatonic sounds, and shared migration experiences, expanded the conversation to include Armenian – American oud player Haig Manoukian and French born, Togo raised bass player Mawuena Kodjovi. Under the leadership of Alsarah, the Brooklyn-based group’s sound grew into what they have dubbed as ‘East – African retro-pop.’

Listen to the Music

“Her voice evokes the aura of a Sudanese queen. Her music speaks of immigration, by choice or by force, and goes from electronic to Nubian inspired 70s pop music, to North African Arabic music.” – Next Libération

Lekhfa – Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca & Tamer AbuGhazaleh

This charismatic Egyptian trio have given birth to a deliciously off-kilter sound of sonic grit and beauty – the perfect setting for the dystopian poems of ​Mido Zoheir​, the band’s ‘fourth member’ and one of the most talented Egyptian poets of his generation. A potent mix of haunting vocals and a dizzying array of instrumentation – from guitar, slide guitar, synths, beat loops and electronica to ouds, buzuq, mizmar, percussion and harmonium
Listen to the Music

“Lekhfa grasps the listener by their deepest, darkest emotions, inviting them into the album’s dystopic – albeit exhilarating – new world” – The Wire

Altin Gün

Altin Gün show what happens when you open doors between Turkish folk songs on the one hand and a dirty blend of funk rhythms, wah-wah guitars, and analogue organs on the other. The Amsterdammers who come from various backgrounds (Turkish but also Indonesian and Dutch) and comfortably create their work in the adventurous no-man’s land that exists between these two worlds.

Listen to the Music

Altin Gün’s foremost inspiration is Neşet Ertaş, a Turkish folk musician whose musical legacy is invaluable. Altin Gün retain the lyrical and thematic structure of Ertaş’s songs, though they often alter their time signatures and add fuzzy bass sounds, sweltering organ sounds and raw saz riffs.

Let Altin Gün open that door for you and get ready to indulge in their fresh and beautiful sound.

Biographies

Seun Kuti is the youngest son of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. At the age of nine, Seun expressed the wish to sing to his father. A short while later Seun started performing with his father and the band, until his father’s untimely death in 1997. Seun, then only 14 years old, assumed the role as lead singer of Egypt 80. Ever since, Seun has followed the political and social ethos of his father. Along the way, he began to add his own twist to the music, digging deep into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures. About three quarters of the current Egypt 80 line-up consists of musicians that not only played with Fela Kuti, but often were arrested and harassed alongside the founder of the Afrobeat movement. Seun Kuti has toured the world and released many albums.

Alsarah is a singer, songwriter, bandleader and a somewhat reluctant ethnomusicologist. Born in Khartoum, Sudan, she relocated to Yemen with her family before abruptly moving to the USA, finally feeling most at home in Brooklyn, NY where she has been residing since 2004. She is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East-African Retro-Pop music. Working on various projects, she has toured both nationally and internationally.

With her main outfit, Alsarah & the Nubatones, she has released 2 full-length albums titled Silt , followed by Manara (Wonderwheel Recordings, 2014 and 2016). She has also released 1 full-length album with French electronic producer Débruit titled Aljawal (Soundways Recordings, 2013). And she was featured on the Nile Project‘s debut CD, Aswan (named in the top 5 must hear international albums by NPR, 2014).

Always trying to connect the musical dots both her full length albums with the Nubatones saw themselves reimagined and remixed by various acclaimed electronic producers in 2015’s Silt Remixed and 2017’s Manara Remixed (both via Wonderwheel Recordings). In between albums Alsarah also works with the Sudanese artist collective Refugee Club Productions on a variety of projects including the critically acclaimed documentary “Beats of the Antonov.”

Lekfa
Maryam Saleh. A major creative force and a powerful voice for her generation, Egyptian singer and songwriter Maryam Saleh composes and performs music that is personal, political and contemplative. She released her monumental debut album Mesh Baghanny (eka3, 2012), after which she joined forces with Lebanese electro-pop pioneer Zeid Hamdan to release Halawella (Mostakell 2015). Known for her muscular, alluring vocals and charismatic stage presence, stemming from being brought up in the world of theatre by her late father, theatre critic, director and writer Saad Saleh. Maryam is also known for bringing the protest songs of Sheikh Imam back to life in new alternative forms through her band BarakA. She starred in many Egyptian films and TV series including Ibrahim El-Batout’s Eye of the Sun (2008) and Tamer El Said’s In the Last Days of the City (2016).

Maurice Louca. Inspired by many influences, from psychedelic to Egyptian shaabi, Maurice Louca’s second album Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Nawa Recordings, 2014) shattered the confines of musical and cultural labelling and was dubbed by many as a game-changer for the region’s bustling independent music scene. He went on to co-found the Dwarfs of East Agouza with Sam Shalabi and Alan Bishop, releasing their first album together to worldwide critical acclaim. Maurice is also a founding member of Alif, Karkhana and Bekya and he continues to compose for film, dance and theatre.

Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. A cross-genre composer, producer and a prolific collaborator born in Cairo to a Palestinian family, Tamer released his latest album Thulth (third), via Mostakell in 2016, earning him widespread attention for melding virtuosity with fierce experimentation in Arabic composition, songwriting and performance. In 2012 he co-founded the critically acclaimed alternative band Alif with Maurice Louca and Khyam Allami; produced Maryam Saleh’s debut album Mesh Baghanny in 2012; collaborated with Yacoub Abu Ghosh on his album As Blue as the Rivers of Amman in 2011; started the cross-genre group Kazamada in 2010 with Zeid Hamdan, Mahmoud Radaideh and Donia Massoud; released Thawret Ala’ (Revolution of Anxiety), a collaborative piece of musical theatre performed by Al-Tamye Theatre Group in 2008; worked with Palestinian and Egyptian artists on Jehar with Huda Asfour; collaborated in Duo Buzuq with Rabea Jubran and in Kalam Mazzika with Salam Yousry and performed on Khaled Jubran’s Psalms in 2005.

Altin Gün
On their debut album ‘On’ (Bongo Joe Records), the band show what happens when you open doors between Turkish folk songs which were passed on from generation to generation on the one hand and a dirty blend of funk rhythms, wah-wah guitars and analog organs on the other. The Amsterdammers come from various backgrounds (Turkish but also Indonesian and Dutch) and comfortably create their work in the adventurous no-man’s land that exists between these two worlds.

Older generations of Turkish musicians have also experimented with opening doors between previously unconnected sonic worlds. During the seventies, artists such as Baris Manço, Selda Bağcan and Erkin Koray practiced a way of songwriting and composing similar to Altin Gün’s.

Manço, Bağcan and Koray have all influenced Altin Gün, but their foremost inspiration is Neşet Ertaş, a Turkish folk musician whose musical legacy is invaluable. Comparisons are almost impossible to make but imagine someone with the same impact and status as Bob Dylan or George Gerschwin and you’re getting close. Many of the songs he wrote have become standards in Turkey, national treasures which are cherished up until the present day. Altin Gün retain the lyrical and thematic structure of Ertaş’s songs, though they often alter their time signatures and add fuzzy bass sounds, sweltering organ sounds and raw saz riffs. Ertaş wrote the majority of the songs on the album even if these are hardly recognisable after all the work Altin Gün have done on them.

Let Altin Gün open that door for you and get ready to indulge in their fresh and beautiful sound.

Altin Gün are:
Ben Rider (guitar)
Daniel Smienk (drums)
Jasper Verhulst (bass)
Merve Dasdemir (vocals)
Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit (saz, keys, vocals)
Gino Groenveld (percussion)

Hailing from Sydney, James Locksmith is a DJ, producer and music curator based in Dubai, who will warm up the crowd pre-show and in between live sets. . A passion for dance music, travel, and learning about diverse cultures from around the world have led James on a colourful music path. James lives between Australia, Dubai and Greece, and has been producing and programming world class, instrumental projects, and events and DJing from bars to festival stages for nearly 20 years.
James moved to Dubai in 2011 and immediately became an integral part of a new groundbreaking alternative club scene in the GCC and Middle East.
He co-founded the popular DUST parties from 2011 and in no time his reputation was on the rise and talent in demand. James started partnering with other forward thinking brands such as Beirut Groove Collective, Third Eye Crew, Analog Room, SATWA 3000, MUTEK, SOLE DXB, 264 Cru, Art Dubai, and Groove on the Grass.