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Miguel Santos on LIFEM

When I say this is a festival of exploratory music, I am not really referring to a genre. It is rather a proactive attitude about all kinds of music. My inspiration is the 15th- and 16th-century European explorers who would set out from the Continent and sail through the Atlantic to discover the rest of the world.

What I explore in music is something that is different, surprising and challenging, so it is essential that LIFEM should differ from other festivals. Curiosity is my main motive. There are so many interesting musical cultures out there, and like many other people, I have yet to encounter them all. That urges me to explore more, often bringing me surprises which I love to share.

This year’s LIFEM is again full of exciting and novel acts. It starts with two classically-influenced artists from Britain: singer-composer Jenni Roditi, whose genre-shifting voice and diverse music fuse different forms in a minimalistic trend, and Andrew Poppy, an eclectic artist whose music has been compared to Cabaret Voltaire and Philip Glass.

In terms of themes, we have a Japanese night that introduces a very modern kind of electronic music by Midori Hirano, Oorutaichi and DJ Scotch Egg. Likewise, the Brazilian night treats us with three acts by Coletivo Rádio Cipó, Madame Mim and Da Cruz: modern Brazilian music that is not just traditional samba or bossa nova.

We also have a Chinese act, but forget the stereotyped associations of Chinese music with traditional Far Eastern tunes: Lonely China Day is a modern rock band, with a very different approach than most Anglo-American bands. Their concert is preceded by the Gaelic singer Lorcán Mac Mathúna’s inspiring rendition of Irish folk tunes, and Tri a Tolia, combining Turkish voice, Iraqi qanun and Belgian cello for a performance of sad, beautiful songs about love, loss and longing.

Another thematic night takes us to as far as the Arctic territories, pairing the acts of two Eskimo performers: Tanya Tagaq, the contemporary Inuit throat singer-composer from Nunavut – Canada, has collaborated with names such as Björk and Kronos Quartet; and Nive Nielsen is an Inuk singer-songwriter from Greenland, accompanying her songs with her ukulele.

I am equally enthusiastic about the night of Yiddish, Sephardic and Klezmer music from different countries. That is bound to be extremely rich and diverse as the music of Mabrouk Band (Israel); Shira U’tfila (Serbia) and Cukunft (Poland) represent three different attitudes towards Jewish culture.

While having such a diverse programme to enjoy, it is also delightful to see Kings Place as the new home to LIFEM. Perfectly located next to King’s Cross – St Pancras, the new gateway to Europe, I think it is an ideal venue for such a festival as it embraces all types of musical genres and activities, an attitude which I very much appreciate.

In the meantime, keep an eye on lifem.org.uk for a free downloadable compilation album and other exciting news…

Miguel Santos
Director
LIFEM: London International Festival of Exploratory Music

(this interview was conducted by Emrah Tokalac, Kings Place)

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