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The BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music The BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music


Albert Kuvezin of Yat-Kha: Interview
by Jon Lusk (January 2002)

Q: Please tell us what your plans are for the awards ceremony. For example, do you still wear traditional costumes on stage?

A: We'll be playing two songs - Ahoi which hasn't been released yet and Kozhamyk from our Aldyn Dashka CD. In our opinion they represent exactly the style and sound of contemporary Yat-Kha. For the last few years we haven't worn traditional costumes, nor have we played pure traditional music. But we have some Tuvan or more generally Asian elements in our dress which we use both on stage and in our everyday lives, as people do in Tuva.

Q: Do you think it's important that people should learn something about Tuvan culture from your work, or is it enough that they simply enjoy the music? Do you feel a certain responsibility as cultural ambassadors for Tuva?

A: I'm glad when people enjoy our music, but it's even better when they want to learn more about our culture, so we¹re happy to oblige. Yes, Yat-Kha and other Tuvan artists are unofficial but real representatives our small country, which has survived despite problems. And we do for our Republic maybe more than some - or even hundreds of - officials and bureaucrats.

Q: What is your opinion of the concept of 'world music'?

A: Music exists in every part of the world and belongs to the whole world. The concept of 'world music' is simple and means just that. It's not only the rich, well developed or 'first world' countries like the USA and UK which can produce great musicians and music. Also, it¹s not only the English language which can be good for nice songs and hits.

Q: To a certain extent, your music is a fusion of Tuvan folklore and rock. Some purists insist that fusion is 'killing' world music by diluting roots music and mixing it with foreign influences. What do you think?

A: The 'fusion' has happened already and has been going on for thousands of years in different spheres of human culture. And it moves the world forward. You can see many examples yourself, especially in the modern world. And this is a good question, who is actually 'killing' world music? Maybe it¹s the people who use it to advertise the lifestyle of the capitalist world.

Q: Since you recorded Aldyn Dashka the band has changed considerably. What new directions has your music taken as a result, and what plans do you have for the next album?

A: Our newest members are young musicians who have brought new blood, freshness and some youthful energy to our live performances. But the experience and knowledge of the older members is still our base and will be in the recording of our new album.

Q: Please tell us a little about the Storm Over Asia project. [1928 formalist film by Vsevolod Pudovkin which Yat-Kha have devised a Tuvan score for] You have toured the US with it, but do you have any plans for this in Europe/ UK?

A: We may be able to do so if our tour schedule allows it. This film and our band were made for each other because the film illustrates our history and shows what our life and culture was like many years ago. We play modern Tuvan music which is a reflection of Tuvan life too. The most important thing to say about this project is that the band plays live improvisation during the whole film.

Q: How did the end of [the record label the band were signed to] Wicklow affect Yat-Kha and what lessons have you learnt about the music industry from this experience?

A: It has changed our plans a little but not too much because music is the main thing in our creative work. We got a lot of good experience of working in the North American music industry and some important things we learned as a result were; nobody is perfect, nothing is eternal, musicians must play music and do their best to be honest.

Read our Yat-Kha profile.   //  Radio 3 Awards for World Music

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