Q&A Secene: Su Hart of Baka Beyond


Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?
We are excited to be playing our first Australian tour, gigs in and around Sydney, the Nationals and Fairbridge in WA and promoting out album, ‘After the Tempest’ which has received acclaim at home in UK

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
A mix of tropical fruits, definately with hot African chillies to make you dance! All on a base of porridge from our Celtic cold country heritage…sound tasty??

Which song resonates most strongly and why?
The track called ‘the heart of the night’ on our new album is powerful for me as it’s based on a forest song my friend sings. She spent her life as a hunter gatherer in the forests of South East Cameroon and had great life force and a great sense of humour. Sadly she has since died. Her wonderful voice lives on. I wrote the tunes that compliment her chant and put words in French to the tune.

Any on the road anecdotes? 
Too many, nearly missing planes to USA and running up down escalators with the instruments sticks in the mind or singing rainforest animal calling chants to dog teams in Alaska and having them join in! There are too many stories, we have been a band for a long time!

Where do you draw inspiration from?
We are lifelong musical friends with an extended group of Baka Pygmies who we have travelled to stay with in Cameroon many times over the last 25 years. Martin ( guitarist and my husband) and I heard them on a TV documentary and were so affected by their music that we went to Central Africa to find them and have become family. Their singing which is thought to be the first human singing is totally captivating. It interlocks and keeps the group strong, it even keeps mouths fed as it’s sung out to the forest to enchant the animals. I’m initiated in this singing, the Baka ask that I teach others the singing and I have taught choirs and groups in many countries.  Royalties go back to the Baka and we help to carry out projects they want to happen, such as building a music house, touring their band of musicians (see www.1heart.org for more details) The forest music with is gentle driving rhythms can support other tunes and melodies. Our own Celtic styles work well (especially the lilting mouth music) with the Baka forest yodelling style, sounds unlikely to some people but listen and you’ll hear!

What’s next for you?
After our tour we go back to the UK where we carry on touring now our summer is coming and I also run choirs. This summer I’m starting the London Rainforest Choir which will perform and raise funds and awareness for the forest and the indigenous forest people.

What’s your scene?
Our scene is in the city of Bath, a small city with a very big musical identity, we play the British festivals and I am also in the ‘choirs scene’ We are also in other bands for fun,  music all the way, roll on summer!

About Baka Beyond

After seeing a documentary on Channel 4, UK based musicians Martin Cradick and his wife Su Hart packed a tent, tape recorder, camera, guitar and mandolin and headed off into the forests of Cameroon in Central Africa. There they spent six weeks living, hunting, gathering and playing many hours of music together with the Baka Pygmy People.

From this experience came two delightful recordings, Heart Of The Forest and Spirit Of The Forest, which led to the birth of the six piece band Baka Beyond. The Baka have initiated Su and Martin into their music and have asked that they spread their culture beyond the forest. With many return visits a strong musical friendship has developed. The band brings together musicians from different cultures and backgrounds in a seamless celebration of the Global Village.

The rhythms of the hunter-gatherer Baka people resonate with musical styles from all around the world. Baka Beyond use these rhythms to tie music from different genres together. Also carried in these rhythms and in all Baka Beyond performances is the sense of  joyous celebration and inclusion that the Baka people bring to all of their music.

After 21 years of touring around the world, Baka Beyond’s live show has constantly evolved. Where possible the current show sometimes includes a multi-media element. Videos from the Cameroon rain forest are projected behind the band and, cleverly synchronised with the live music so that the Baka become part of the live show. Baka Beyond are not recreating other people’s music. They use the spirit of the Baka’s music to present their own musical heritage whether the Rhumba rhythms of Kibi’s native Congo or the Celtic melodies of Martin’s Cornish/Welsh heritage, seamlessly combined as can be heard in their latest album ‘After The Tempest’, the band’s 8th studio album, released in mid 2014. Baka Beyond’s live shows include song, dance, percussion, musical virtuosity and big smiles all round.

Baka Beyond members still regularly visit the Baka in Cameroon, returning royalties earned by their music and helping them to use the money for community development projects through the charity they set up, Global Music Exchange. Either directly to individual musicians, or for sustainable projects decided within the Baka community. A large performance space has been built as well as work done in health and education. With the forest and therefore their lifestyle under threat, it helps that the Baka’s music and culture is appreciated worldwide.  Martin Cradick returns to Central Africa each year to play music, set up projects and to help the Bakas band “Baka Gbine” to tour.

Baka Beyond are looking forward to their debut Australian tour which takes in The National Folk Festival and the Fairbridge Festival, as well as other dates around the country. Tour Dates Below:

Tour DatesApril 2015

Thurs 2nd               The Quarterdeck,   Narooma, NSW  $25
Fri 3-Mond 5th        National Folk Festival,   Canberrra  ACT
Tues 7th                 The Lewisham Hotel johnsgigs@gmail.com 8pm  $25
Thurs 9th                Clancy’s Fish Pub – Fremantle WA  $20/$25 
Frid  10-12th           Fairbridge Folk Festival, WA
Sat 18th                  Illawarra Folk Club   $25
Sun  19th                 The Camelot Lounge,   Marrickville,   NSW 7.30pm $30/$25

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