The Road to Europa: Berlin

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The creation of a new album is a many-staged project that usually takes a great deal of time. In the case of Europa, it took well over a year, from the initial preparations, to the actual recording to the final release next week. I’m sure many people are wondering why a Canadian musician (me) would go and record an album in Germany while on a tour performing in Germany and the Czech Republic.

The answer to that question goes back even further than the summer of 2015 when Europa was recorded. In 2011, I was coming to the end of the funded portion of my PhD program at York University in Toronto. KlezFactor had been performing at festivals and concerts for the past several years but, with the funding of my PhD coming to an end and still more writing and editing work to be done, I also felt like a needed a change. I had done some exploring of ideas of a place to go for a while to focus both on playing more music and writing my dissertation and Germany was a good fit. I was still (barely) eligible for a free, one-year visa thanks to the Youth Mobility Act that offered reciprocal visas for Canadians and Germans under 35 and I had met some amazing people in Germany when I was doing field research in 2009 and 2010, most of whom lived in Berlin.

 

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The band as we walk through the streets of Bayreuth

The band as we walk through the streets of Bayreuth

I went in late 2011 and my arrival was greatly assisted by Franke Lampe and other klezmer people like Ilya Schneyveys and others whom I met on my travels. I formed a version of KlezFactor in Berlin that performed there that summer and fall, recruiting from diverse groups of musicians. I met bassist Alex Bayer, and drummers Daniel Praetzlich and Finlay Panter through Peter van Huffel, a Canadian-born saxophonist who lives and plays in Berlin these days. I met guitarist Florian von Frieling at a jazz jam session and I met violinist Dea Szucs at a klezmer jam session.

While I had to leave Berlin in late 2012 because my visa expired (and because I had to submit and defend my dissertation), playing with those musicians reinvigorated my desire to play KlezFactor’s music and bring it to Europe. I knew who I wanted to record the band’s next CD with and where I wanted to record it: with those musicians and in Berlin. The next question came up: how?

 

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Europa is released July 5, 2016! Join us at our CD release concert!

Head over to our Performances page for updates on concerts!

 

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