Tadias Video Interview: Producer Bill Laswell on Jano Band

Members of the new Ethiopian rock band Jano. The group is expected to tour the United States this year following the launch of their upcoming album. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – When it comes to world music, New York-based producer Bill Laswell is convinced that the next big act coming out of Ethiopia is a young rock band called Jano – a ten member ensemble that fuses distinctly Ethiopian sounds with heavy guitar, drum and other instruments.

“I think they were probably deeply influenced by the great musicians of Ethiopia, the great singers without question,” said Laswell in a recent interview with TADIAS. Laswell, who has put together the band’s forthcoming CD, has an extensive resume including work with Ethiopian vocalist Gigi, among others.

Regarding Jano, he added: They have “progressive sounds. It’s very new and very different. Nothing like this ever came out of Ethiopia.”

Laswell said what makes the young musicians unique is that they manage to keep the traditional Ethiopian vibe while appealing to global music lovers. “You hear old songs by singers from the 60′s inside of the rock,” he said. “Another interpretation that might upset some people but carries on the tradition in a modern way.” He continued: “These are modern instruments but it does not overlook the kirar, it does not overlook masinko, it does not overlook the traditional singing, the church music and the power of the tradition. It does not take that for granted. They don’t join the ranks of Ethiopian music, they break the rules.”

The group consists of four vocalists (two male and two female), two guitarists, two keyboard players, a bassist and a drummer – all in their twenties.

According to Laswell, the band was talent-spotted by Ethiopian entrepreneur Addis Gessesse who is also credited for helping to launch the careers of reggae star Ziggy Marley and Ethiopian pop icon Teddy Afro.

As to the release date for Jano’s album, Laswell said they have an unconventional marketing strategy worked out. “The album is done and the packaging is done and they are in the process of creating it now in Ethiopia, and probably it will come here soon,” he said. “It will come as a word-of-mouth and not so much as a marketing distribution build up how America does things, but more to do with getting that interest to communities.” He added: “I think it will start in the Ethiopian community and hopefully it will build into what the world calls the ‘World Music’ genre, which is pretty big internationally.”

Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS TV)


Related:
Jano Band to Perform at SOB’s in New York
Tadias Video Interview: Ethiopian Rock Band Jano Live in DC (UPDATED)

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15 Responses to “Tadias Video Interview: Producer Bill Laswell on Jano Band”


  1. 1 Yeshi Dallas Jun 21st, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Beautiful voice! Jano gets it! Good luck!

  2. 2 Ye Oak Tow lij Jun 22nd, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Hope they come to the west coast!! Way to go guys!

  3. 3 Mimi Jun 22nd, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Stars are born!

  4. 4 DJ Jun 23rd, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I like the way theyre did the Alemayehu Eshete song!

  5. 5 EZeverett Jun 26th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    From the clips I heard, it does not sound like “rock” band. I think they are confused to call it rock music. It is sad they are walking under the shadow of European mentality. Rock is not Ethiopian and can not be either. Be yourself and preserve the purity of our music.

  6. 6 Addis Jun 26th, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Jano hits the spot! They have a potetial if they are exposed to more rock and world music!

  7. 7 Meron Jun 26th, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Jano definitely preserves Ethiopian culture and groove while expermenting with new sounds. They are innovative, young and pushing the envelope of accepted boudries. There is nothing wrong in thinkng out of the box! Bravo Jano!!

  8. 8 Meklit Alula Jun 26th, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Good Job Addis!!

  9. 9 Sue Jul 6th, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Wow!!! Being a Brit in Ethiopia…hearing this is a breath of fresh air..and as the man says…it does not neglect traditional Ethi values! Brilliant!! More please!

  10. 10 Dave Jul 17th, 2012 at 11:33 am

    This is currently available in limited release as a digital album, but the CD will be available next Tuesday the 24th. Though I believe there is a slightly different strategy in Ethiopia, the CD should be available just about everywhere as well as hopefully through the label website by next Tuesday (both CD and digital).

    I’ve been listening nonstop to this since January or February. And not just because I work for Bill and the label, but because I really do think it’s a great album. I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I do. They really are a talented bunch.

  11. 11 Sam Jul 23rd, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Great Job Jano……….don’t listen to some of these tyrants, so called guardian of tradition. Every generation should have and must be allowed to have his own sound by building on the older generation music. These so called “guardian of Tradition” are anti-creativity and innovation. They don’t seem to understand the great singers of the 60s had also their own sound………a new one different from those before them!

  12. 12 Sam Jul 23rd, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    By the way these guys are pioneers ……….Ethiopian musicians have for a long time — since the 60s — have been producing music in the modern tradition sense. But they were mainly what you call in Ethiopian Jazz or Pop style, not Rock Style. This is what you call a Pioneer Band. One thing I appreciate is the band seems to have been put together carefully based of on their talent — on gift in voice and ability to play well in a full band. Recently the great well established Ethiopian singer KuKu Sebsebe made a great observation when asked about the differences she sees between older generation musicians and today’s. She said during the old times, “musicians needed to have a gift in voice and ability to play with full band, while modern musicians need not have a discernable voice and can sing with a synthesized backup and with little or no need for big musical bands.” By the way this problem is also seen in the West, not only in Ethiopia!!

  13. 13 Gigi Aug 5th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Thank God you guys sound classy …

    I love you guys Good Luck!

  14. 14 Kirubel Oct 24th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Star is born. Jano keep it up simply.

  1. 1 The New Rough Guide to Ethiopian Music at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Sep 29th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
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