Jano’s latest project
Revolutionaries in the Ethiopian music scene have been coming somewhat every other generation. The first of his kind in Ethiopia and internationally acclaimed musician Mulatu Astatke is and continues to be an inspiration for younger generations to aspire to and set trends as he did. Following his example, Jano Band has become the first of its kind in its genre. Mixing rock and Ethiopian style melody they have taken the country by storm which gave people variety of music they can choose from. Different from the lot, Jano has extended its reach far and wide with new projects, writes Senait Feseha.
Jano Band — a pioneering Ethio-Rock Fusion Band famed for blending melodic Ethiopian styles with powerful metal grooves, heavy guitars, and electronic sounds since 2011, has inaugurated its new recording studio.
For its inaugural launch, the band hosted an invitation-only event featuring an array of guests, esteemed individuals and participating artists.
Tucked back at the end of an alleyway in the Awaré neighborhood, the event took place at the Jano Compound. It sits in a fairly quite spot, barely noticeable from the street. On the evening of the event, invitees went through the beaten pathway to discover an airy compound. It featured a spacious outdoor garden filled with the sweet aroma of coffee and burning wood, a modest villa and a makeshift stage. On the night, while most guests arrived fashionably late; the hosts dressed exquisitely in contemporary Ethiopian attire, were humbly welcoming and expressing their gratitude to their guests.
The event started after the guest of honor, Yismake Worku, a well-known author recognized for his book Dertogada, cut the ceremonial bread. After dinner, Hailu Amerga started to sing a song from their previous album titled “Anchi Hagere”. His distinctive soulful voice and passionate performance moved the crowd.
Song after song, musicians took turns to perform varied styles of songs each stating the inspiration, meaning and messages represented in it. Dibekulu Tafesse, lead singer of the band, described the meaning of their latest album titled “Le-rasih New,” directly translated as “It is for you”. Dibekulu stated the meaning of the title as “one of the ways we can attract the things we want in life is by doing them for others. If you do good or bad, at the end of the day, it is for you.” Dibekulu urged the audience to attract good things by doing well in the spirit of the holiday.
“Le-rasih New” represented a wide variety of styles ranging from traditional sounds and instruments to contemporary, modern compositions and everything in between. Comprising of social, cultural and national issues, it created an appeal to a wider range of audience.
Usually, what goes on behind the scenes of the recording industry is masked behind secrecy. Musicians and artists assemble behind closed doors where creativity is done mysteriously before being packaged and publicized. However, Jano’s event proved that a little bit community involvement goes a long way. According to the band manager Samuel Tefera, the guest list comprises of various individuals from all walks of life. “While the guest list contains familiar names, we have also invited locals from the community, people living around the Jano Compound”. Some of the recognizable personalities attending the event were Eleni Gebre-Medhin (PhD), Henok Temesgen, Henok Mehari, Mahlet Afework (Mafi), Shimelis Abera, and Yismake Worku.
Despite the rumors the band members were in a middle of a dispute, the performances made by the band were energetic and expressive. Nevertheless, they were seen working closely together with a noticeable chemistry and throughout the show the guests were visibly engaged. Regarding the rumor about their breakup in 2017, members of the band said in-spite of some misunderstandings the band has not broken up and it will continue to perform in an improved manner with the substitution of some of its members. “It is true that there were some misunderstandings, but the band did not break up. We have solved the problems,” Samuel said about the situation.
Although they stayed off the limelight for several years since their first album release Ertale, Jano remained active touring and working on their latest album. “We have been on tour in the US, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Bahrain, Dubai and Israel,” band members said. And as they have promised, Jano released their newest album this year on February. The album combines Ethiopian song writing fused with renowned sound engineering from the Bluemusica Studio in Italy and mastering from the Grammy winning Lurssen Mastering in LA, California.
According to Samuel, the project – recording studio at the Jano Compound — was fiscally supported by the tours. “The band also plans to host invitation-only events at the compound every week or two.” He believes the event will demonstrate a positive addition to the city’s creative network and will raise the profile of Jano Band. He also mentioned that the recording studio will be open for practice and rehearsals for artists and musicians at a very reasonable price. In addition to the working studio, the compound has multiple quarters that can serve as accommodations for artists. “We will continue to develop other elements to create a high-end recording studio,” Samuel said.
Samuel added that the band will start touring major towns in Ethiopia starting at end of April. In response to what fans should be expecting in the near future, the band’s female vocalist Hewan Gebrewold said: “We are working on video clips, numerous concerts and tours. We have collaborated with various choreographers, and professionals to create different concepts derived from national issues.” Haleluya Tekletsadik added: “We also have an animated video clip coming soon for the song ‘Hager Alegn’. Furthermore, we are working on refining our stage performances with the addition of Masinko, Kirar and Washint.”
Towards the end of the show, participating musicians like Andy-Betty Zema performed a couple of stirring songs that made the crowd applaud. But the show was not over until Jano’s female vocalist Haleluya Tekletsadik performed an enticing Somali song that left the crowd in awe.
Yeabsira Getachew, one of the guests who attended the show, stated: “It was the first band jam I have ever been to but the show was great, the sound from the live show, the performance, and the cozy atmosphere was top notch. It was a great night.”