Trans Musicales 2018: Day Three

Trans Musicales
DJ Morgan
Ajate // photo by Morgan Chosnyk

We're back for day three of filming at the Musée de la Danse here in Rennes, France during the 40th Trans Musicales festival. Today, we had a stacked line up of completely different kinds of bands from around the world, which is one of the great things about this festival. Trans prides itself on booking the best new and emerging artists of all different genres and origins and today was definitely a great representation of that diversity. 

The Naghash Ensemble // photo by Justin Wilmore


The day started off with The Naghash Ensemble from Armenia. The Naghash Ensemble is the project of John Hodian, originally from Armenia, who grew up in the US. About 15 years ago, he began traveling back to Armenia to connect more with his first home, venturing out of the main city and into the smaller parts of the country.

John Hodian of The Naghash Ensemble // photo by Justin Wilmore


During his travels, he happened upon a large stone structure, a temple, from which he heard someone singing and was drawn in. It turned out to be Hasmik Baghdasaryan, now the lead of the three singers in the Naghash Ensemble. Inspired by that sound of traditional Armenian folk music, he began composing his own original pieces with the intention of having Hasmik sing on it. Unsure of what lyrics to have for his songs, he began researching various Armenian texts and found the poems by 15th-century Armenian priest M’krtich Naghash, who wrote about his exile from his home.

The Naghash Ensemble // photo by Justin Wilmore


Eventually, Hodian composed 15 original pieces of Neo-classical/Armenian folk intended to be the backdrop to the 15 poems by Naghash and the ensemble was born. Together The Naghash Ensemble are Hasmik Baghdasaryan (soprano vocals), Tatevik Movsesyan (soprano vocals), Arpine Ter-Petrosyan (alto vocals),Tigran Hovhannisyan (dhol - double-headed drum), Aram Nikoghosyan (oud - Middle Eastern stringed instrument), Emmanuel Hovhannisyan (duduk - woodwind instrument), and John Hodian (piano/composer). We're excited to share their beautiful performance with you once the video is posted early next year. In the meantime, here's a small taste of their KEXP performance. 

Los Orioles // photo by Justin Wilmore


The next band up was Los Orioles from Switzerland. This seven-piece band formed 5 years ago over a shared love of Cumbia, which informed their tropical sound they call "Zumbia" — short for "Zombie Cumbia" — a mixture of different sounds and styles. They have an infectious energy with lots of percussions —  in fact, they had two drums kits as well as hand drums, bass, guitar, and vocalist Dany's positivity exuding through the mic.

Los Orioles // photo by Justin Wilmore


Their latest record Zumbia Yéyé came out in July. Check out a clip of their sound here!

The drummers of Ajate and band leader John Imaeda // photo by Justin Wilmore


The day capped off with, again, something completely different! Ajate is a 10-piece collective from Tokyo, spearheaded by Junichiro "John" Imaeda. With a strong interest in Japanese traditional instrumentation and music, ten years ago John began making bamboo instruments of his own design and developing a sound with each of them which he then wanted to expand into a group. He spent time traveling to various Japanese festivals searching for musicians to join him in creating his sound and vision, and over time collected all of the members now in Ajate. They play a joyous blend of afrobeat and traditional Japanese festival music called "Ohayashi".

Ajate and DJ Morgan // photo by Justin Wilmore


Their latest album Abrata was released in 2017 and they are currently working on their next record due to be released next year. Check out a clip of their sound check with us at Trans here. Stay tuned for the full video when it's released next year. Try not to smile while watching them play!

Ajate // photo by Justin Wilmore


We'll be back tomorrow with three more bands for day four of recording at the Musée de la Danse. In the meantime, enjoy a video our videographer extraordinaire, Scott Holpainen, made of our walk to work from our hotel this morning and meeting up with our coordinator Jeremy Méléard. He made it look pretty epic, enjoy!

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