ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Eatery with a gift in store WENDY JOHNSON
Kate can’t pass up the pull of Persian music By Helen
“Traditional Persian musicians are very happy playing those microtones and so it’s an interesting compositional challenge to try and solve those problems.” “I really like playing the festival stages. We’re used to being nice and cosy on stage, FUSING east and west, jazz and but it will be great to play to a big audience classical, the inclusion of WA – you can feel the energy from the audience bass player Kate Pass’ Kohesia and its life.” Ensemble in the National Folk A VERY different tradition of music informs Taiwan-born Canberra vocalist Kim Yang. Festival line-up is a clear signal An aspiring songwriter, she’s performed of directions for the future in an cover songs at markets, pubs, cafes and wedincreasingly diverse Australia. dings, but increasingly she is incorporating Taiwanese elements into her own AustralianAnd not just that, as festival director Pam made songs. Merrigan points out, she comes from one of “I came here from Taipei with my Australthe two focus states/territories for 2019 – the ian husband in 2012,” she says. other is the ACT. “At that time I wasn’t a professional The Easter festival at Exhibition Park has an musician; I used to sing on YouTube and jam estimated attendance of up to 55,000 people around when I was a student, but when I with 21 international performers from 14 moved to Australia I wanted to do something countries, 40 Canberra and 11 acts from WA with my life so I started to write songs.” and 13 artists for the popular KidzFest. WA bass player Kate Pass… “We fit into the jazz festival scene, the world music Invited to play at events mostly doing Pass leads the eight-piece Kate Pass cover songs, Yang felt she needed to write Kohesia Ensemble and, talking by phone from scene and the folk music scene, so there are three prongs.” Perth, explains how she first came to know “The modes are different to Western scales that cater to an eight-piece band so festivals about her own life story through original songs. Persian music, now the mainstay of her band. and sounds, but the good thing about jazz have become our chief focus, the more “I never really shared some of my experiSix years ago while studying jazz at the is you can go between styles of music, there festivals the better, I say.” WA Academy of Performing Arts, she found are different things, different genres I quite She says that there is no doubt the double ences to people, so I thought I could write a song to put down my idea,” she says. herself playing in a band that featured enjoy that. bass works with Persian music. One song, called “Missed Chance”, is in Tehran-born singer Tara Tiba, who had “We fit into the jazz festival scene, the “As an ensemble we worked on getting the migrated to Perth in 2012. world music scene and the folk music scene, right sounds and the right modes to fit in with praise of a kind woman, a cancer sufferer, who wrote an encouraging email after she’d “I really fell in love with the sound and the so there are three prongs. the Persian music, where there are a lot of expressive nature of the music,” Pass says. “Here in Perth there are not many venues microtones in the instrumentation,” she says. been on a talent show on Taiwanese TV, but
30 CityNews April 11-17, 2019
whom she never met. “Homesickness is another important feature in my songs so I’ve written a funny one called ‘Merry Christmas, Mama’ where I sing: ‘Look mum, I miss you, I didn’t call you enough but I still miss you’.” Yang enjoys living amid two different cultures in her Australian family, helped by the fact that her husband speaks Chinese and she works at the ANU in a research centre, but tries to go back once a year. She is adamant that she is not a pop singer, saying: “I still have my standards”. However, she admits to having been inspired by Canadian singer Sarah Ann McLachlan, Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor and Joan Baez, and after attending a music course at CIT where she studied jazz and blues standards, she is branching out. But home thoughts beckon, and one famous Taiwanese song she loves doing is “The Spring Breeze”, written during Japanese colonisation in the 1930s, but it has a sad note. “Taiwanese people just don’t have identity, we’ve been colonised by the Europeans, colonised by Japan, colonised by Chinese, so who are we?” she asks. Yang is looking forward to the folk festival, where she will promote her debut EP. National Folk Festival, Exhibition Park in Canberra, April 18-22, bookings and all program details to folkfestival.org.au
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