Riding high on the Balkan wave

The Gypsy groove band returns to Israel.

Shantel Disko Partizani (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shantel Disko Partizani
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the middle of the last decade, the Balkan sound exploded onto the European dancefloor. Since 2002, in London, New York and Tel Aviv, bands like Oi Va Voi and Balkan Beat Box had already been part of a scene that had been attracting audiences with their klezmer-Balkan- Mizrahi dancefloor fusion.
Coupled with album compilations like Gypsy Beats and Balkan Bangers 1 & 2, this sound swept across the world, exposing and celebrating a world of music which, until then, had been largely undiscovered. Yet it wasn’t “folk” or “World,” it was modern, expressive, original and digitized. So by the time the East flooded the West, the two musical modal tidal waves crashed together and washed up on the shores of European dance floors, with a welcome reprieve.
For many, the Balkan sound registered on the radar only when the film Borat appeared, with its infectious soundtrack. The parping bass-lines courtesy of Tuba’s, the East-to-West searing hot modal horn melodies and the pumpin’ ‘n’ jumpin’ four-to-the-floor beats proved too much for many. They either loved it or hated it. Dancing clubbers’ heads suddenly broke their shoe-gaze trance and started looking around the club for the source of this sound, expecting to see a Balkan bouncer dressed like a Mexican mariachi. The truth was that the Disko Partizani behind the decks was, in fact, the German DJ, Shantel.
His Frankfurt-based Bucovina club night took off with the momentum of a social movement and proved itself to be a vibrant force on the international music scene. The Jerusalem Post managed to grab an espresso with a slivovice chaser with this amiable dancefloor maverick.
When did you first get into music?
My father was a drummer, so I always had these kinds of funky-daddy beats in my ears. I think it came at the right moment in my life, and it was clear to me that I would be moving in the same direction as him.
Would you call what you play “Balkan” music?
I am sure that I am not making Balkan music. It would be better to call it some kind of Continental- European-Soundclash, Disko Partizani or Anarchy and Romance. I see myself as a German musician located at the belly-button of Europe, and luckily it doesn’t sound like [the bands] Kraftwerk or Rammstein.
What’s the idea behind the name Disko Partizani?
One night I got really drunk on some cheap alcohol, I got arrested by the German police, and I started singing some old school protest songs, so they called me ‘Disko Partizani.’ I thought this expression was really great, so here it is.
So there it is, the man is as full of character as his music and will be back with his bombastic Bucovina Allstars at Barby on November 10. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that as it is his only live date currently on sale, it will sell out quickly.Shantel Disko Partizani, November 10 at 9:30 p.m., Barby Club Tel Aviv, 52 Kibbutz Galuyot St. NIS 180 – NIS 200. misterticket.co.il *9080.