Strap in and get ready for the next instalment of the #GETTOKNOW series which invites you to learn a little more about the lesser known bands playing at the festival this year. Follow the series through our social media and newsletter for insights into some of the best music you haven’t heard yet.
Next up in the series is Dowdelin, with words from Matt Hacke.
The incredibly vogueish sound of Dowdelin’s debut album, Carnaval Odyssey, speaks as much to the band’s cutting-edge approach, as it does to a wider recovery of Caribbean music traditions.
The influence of soca music is palpable on today’s billboard, whilst French Carribean ‘Gwo ka’ drumming has inspired some of the more eclectic contemporary R’n’B artists. This makes Dowdelin’s hybrid sound seem familiar. The layered percussion and fragmented electro of their lead single ‘Laissé Mwen’, reminds of Santigold and Dawn Richard at their most experimental.
To focus on these similarities however would not do justice to Dowdelin’s artistic project. Formed in Lyon, France by producer David Kiledjian (also of Fowatile), and singer, Olivya, the band quickly zeroed in on Afro-Carribbean stylings, and Creole-language vocals. For Olivya, the interplay of Carribean tradition with Europhone electro and sampling is part and parcel of her own identity. Speaking to Bandcamp Daily she said: “[I am from] La Martinique, my island … but I grew up in France. I don’t want to have to choose between the country of my birth and my country of origin.”
Consistent of Kiledjian, Olivya and percussionist Raphael Philibert, Dowdelin’s music touches base across the French-Creole diaspora. In ‘Ka Fwo Bit’ Oilvya’s playful vocals overlay swampy jazz brass and three-four percussion. Elsewhere, the band dial up the electronic influences, with ‘Elephants Roses’ cutting soulful vocals with hip hop drum machines and staccato synths. What links these songs together are the creole influences, and this marriage between French Caribbean history and electro feels almost afro-futuristic. This hybrid sensibility ensures that the band’s music feels authentic and pioneering in equal measure.
In their live show, Dowdelin expand their performance into visual art, using the abstract, tech-focused work of Fred Durieu and Benjamin Vedrenne to supplement their forward-thinking sound. There is little doubt that their multimedia set will be amongst the most innovative things you see at Womad this year.
Check out the full line-up here.