Monday, April 14, 2008

WERS Artist Interview: Rupa and the April Fishes

While in Boston this past week, Rupa & the April Fishes stopped in at WERS for a Live Mix session. Alexa McMahon was on hand to write this piece for the WERS blog

April 11, 2008 by Alexa McMahon

As people stripped themselves of their winter clothing to enjoy the beautiful spring day Rupa and the April Fishes arrived in the WERS studio to entertain listeners with their mixture of romantic, lively music. The San Francisco based band encapsulates a fusion of cultures with their multilingual style that appeals to listeners around the world. Rupa and her band mates have found their own musical genre where merging French style, Latin alternative, gypsy jazz and folk-rock is not off limits.

Rupa, lead vocals and guitarists, with her full curly hair describes her band’s sound, “as global fusion music, sort of nomadic music that is moving, traveling coming from several different places into one person.” Their sound can be attributed to Rupa’s own ‘nomadic’ childhood of traveling between San Francisco, India, and France living in different cultures and speaking various languages all her life. This now can be seen in the band with songs in French, Spanish, Hind, and English. “The music asks for the language, language is like color on a palette,” Rupa said explaining her choices to apply certain languages for certain songs.

Rupa’s comprehensive knowledge of the world and music is further cultivated and applied to the Rupa and the April Fishes by her band mates, composed of drummer Aaron Kierbel, upright bassist Safa Shokrai, accordionist Isabelle Douglass, cello player Pawel Walerowski, and trumpet player Marcus Cohen, who all came into the studio. The arrangement of multiple instruments and Rupa’s intoxicating voice form a pure sound that is energetic and mesmerizing. Their organized blend of instruments is constant throughout their music structuring their pieces to reflect the traditional rhythms in the many places they draw influence from.

The first song they performed at the studio was in French called “Maintenant”, which is a love song with a tango beat generated from the accordion. They moved swiftly into an English song “Wishful Thinking” the lyrics were influenced by Rupa’s experiences as a doctor. Her career working in the hospital has prompted her writing lyrics based on the many stories she encounters, “when working at a hospital you get to see so many people with different lives and stories…the stories are told vulnerably and openly,” Rupa said. The final song called “Poder” sang in Spanish also influenced by someone she met at work; an illegal immigrant suffering from breast cancer. The lyricism has a political underbelly about America’s immigration problem. Seen in their three songs they have the ability to cover romantic subjects then suddenly move into a political song without much effort, exemplifying a truly global band.

It is apparent Rupa and the April Fishes are a diverse band with many things to offer their listeners. Releasing their debut album, eXtraOrdinary rendition, this year they are looking forward to touring and continuing their large collaboration of musical elements and global cultures. Rupa states, “For the future I want to play, learn, and grow in different parts of the world, meet other musicians and continue refreshing our minds together. This is just the beginning.”

Find the band on Facebook

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