“Music is a great way to wake up–to wake up our own selves, to deepen our own awareness and to communicate that process to others so that they can come along on the journey, to teach and to learn.” – Rupa of Rupa & The April Fishes
The musicians—Aaron Kierbel and Safa Shokrai, Misha Khalikulov and Mario Alberto Silva—came from all over the world and converged in San Francisco to become the April Fishes, and join ringleader Rupa. In their work together, diverse musical languages—punk, indie rock, reggae, raga, rockabolly, chanson, cumbia, Malian guitar, and duduk melodies—converge. In other times and places musical traditions have met to forge a sound that is more insistent than any other mode of resistance. This band—is rebel music.
Rupa & the April Fishes BaliSpirit Festival Artist Q & A:
Rupa is the respondent
1. Which three groups or artists most influence your music?
We are all influenced by many styles and artists and we each bring that love and passion into the mix as a band. I’d say all of us love Duke Ellington. And all of us love Bob Marley. After that, we’d get into our differences. That’s what makes the sound so alive and vital, is our collective voice.
2. What has been the highlight of your music career?
Playing music for engaged and excited audiences. We love it! Sharing our sounds and continuing to have the courage to evolve that sound in a way that feels honest and true.
3. Tell us about the music scene back home. What are the biggest trends today?
San Francisco has a really diverse scene. there’s an amazing Jazz scene, a great Roots Forward scene–people taking sounds from roots music and applying to new expressions. A cool Indie Folk scene. An inspiring new music scene. A crazy exciting Latino hip hop scene. Dark and beautiful Indie Rock scene. I think the overall trend in SF is open-mindedness musically speaking.
4. How do you usually spend your time when you’re off the stage?
Cooking! It is such a blessing to have access to a kitchen and food to cook. I’ve been on the road for 3 months now and miss it greatly. I love spending time with my friends, making music and working at the free clinic in the mission, taking care of patients and imagining how we can take over more space in San Francisco for urban gardening projects to get much needed whole foods to communities who need them, for free.
5. What excites you about performing at the BaliSpirit Festival? Do you do yoga?
I’m excited to see another articulation with the integration between music and yoga. Yes, I do practice yoga. It’s a personal practice. I have a few really wonderful teachers who I see rarely because of my travels and their own. So mostly I practice on my own and for my own peace and balance. It’s been something I’ve done since I was a kid. growing up, when the white kids were going to church, i went to an Indian community center where we learned yoga, songs, Hindi and just hung out with our awesome aunties.
6. What kind of audience response do you anticipate for your first performance in Indonesia?
I don’t tend to anticipate an audience response, especially when we’ve never been somewhere. I hope people are open-minded and can tap into their own sense of celebration of life, which is where our music comes from in its essence .
7. What are your plans for the rest of the year? Will you hit the recording studio? Head off on tour?
For 2013 we will finish up our Build tour which will have been 5 months long, covering North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. We plan on being back on the road in the summer in Europe and then starting to record again next fall, again with Todd Sickafoose who produced the last album with us. My partner is a farmer and we’ll be laying down some plans to build a new farming project integrating natural building, permaculture and looking more closely at food as medicine. Ideally I’d love to see hospitals in San Francisco working with local agriculture folks to rethink foods and education around food in hospitals. There’s really so much to do ~ in music, in medicine, in life.
8. The BaliSpirit Festival is about social action, as well as great music. Tell us a little bit about your activist work off the stage, and why you think music is an important agent for change?
My work as an activist is the same as my work as a physician which is the same as my work as an artist. The task is one of waking up and being a compassionate witness–to be able to recognize the suffering we see and to act as an agent to alleviate it. I tend to focus on issues around how politics are affecting every day people, particularly their health. Music is a great way to wake up–to wake up our own selves, to deepen our own awareness and to communicate that process to others so that they can come along on the journey, to teach and to learn.