It might, on occasion, cross your mind that perhaps sister-labels, Karisma Records, and Is it Jazz? Records have an A&R team permanently camped outside prestigious Norwegian music conservatories since so many of the younger bands signed to the labels have graduated from those hallowed halls. And indeed, SHAKAI, the latest signing to Is it Jazz? Records, are no exception to the rule, with members having studied at either Bergen or Trondheim conservatories.
Formed in 2016 with band leader and bassist Eline Rafteseth at the helm, SHAKAI, which translates from the Japanese as “public” or “society”, the band released a very successful debut album in 2018, and followed it with various festival appearances that solidified the band’s growing reputation.
Now, with 2022 waning, and 2023 on the horizon, SHAKAI is back with a new lineup to go with its brand new record deal, and is ready to begin work on the band’s sophomore full-length album. At the same time, SHAKAI are determined not to let the grass grow beneath their collective feet, so, before entering Bergen’s Duper Studio with producers Jørgen Træen and Iver Sandøy, SHAKAI is set to play a series of dates around Norway.
Of the upcoming collaboration with Is it Jazz? Records SHAKAI had this to say:
We are very excited to announce that we have been signed with Is it jazz? Records. Not only because of their passion and devotion to music – but also because they are a local label that really cares about their artists!
As is usually the case with graduates from music conservatories, SHAKAI’s lineup of bassist, band leader and original founder Eline Rafteseth (QUORUM TRIO, MADS BERVEN, BOREALIS UNG KOMPONIST), Elisabeth Lid Trøen on saxophones (BERGEN BIG BAND, TRØEN/ARNESEN KVARTETT), Gabriela Garrubo on vocals (METTESON, AMALIE HOLT KLEIVE, GABRIELA GARRUBO), guitarist Simen Walle (ATARI, GUILTY GARDEN, WALLE) and Amund Nordstrøm on drums and modular synth (DATADYR, AVIAN ART, TOMAS LOSSIUS SEPTET), brings with it a plethora of musical disciplines and backgrounds, firmly rooted in Jazz and Improvisation, along with a sound grounding gleaned from working with other bands and projects.
Inspired by artists that include DEERHOOF, PORTISHEAD, DOFFS POI, SOLVEIG SLETTAHJELL, BROEN and whilst musically they identify as indie-jazz, the quintet doesn’t really pay much attention to genre definitions, nor to those unwritten rules that try to shackle musicians to a set formula that only serves to stifle creativity. SHAKAI would much rather invite the listener in to their strange universe of unexpected elements and unusual instruments, and let the music speak for itself, describing their creative process as being “almost like making pastries without a recipe”.
Whilst appearance-wise, SHAKAI present an image of studied ease, almost, at times, of introspection on stage, there is no hint of navel gazing as the band skilfully brings its music to life, drawing the audience in and surprising them with unexpected turns. Fans will be able to see for themselves what SHAKAI is all about live on the following dates:
Tue 4: Progkjeller, Hærverk Oslo
Sat 8: Bajazz, Bergen
Fri 14: Jazz på Jølst, Jølster
Sat 15: Vestnes Jazzklubb
Sun 16: Søndagsjazzen på Ila
Wed 19: Uhørt! Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene – splittkonsert med Joakim Rainer Trio.
More information about SHAKAI can be found on the band’s Facebook page at facebook.com/shakaimusic
A video of SHAKAI playing live at Landmark in Bergen can be seen at https://youtu.be/UmnJRCU5vqE