Backwards into the future.
Django Novo boosted the challenge by adding the name Novo to his already heavyweight birthname. Not being cocky but underlining the humor and adding to the pressure in having Django as a birth-name. DN started off his musical career with tunes that was very much influenced by the 40s and 50s Americana, an area in music history that emerged long before Amsterdam resident Piet Kuiters (Djangos father) did his act.
Kuiters broke ground as an excellent bebop pianist playing and staying with acts like Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, NHöP, Stan Getz and Chet Baker to mention but a few. Jazz is naturally in Django’s blood. As a child he got almost every quality/groundbreaking musical influence from his mothers record collection who was a complete music fantast. However, there where never any emphasize on music as a path until at the age of early 20s, where he found his own flavors through funk, disco, pop, new wave and especially a band named Japan, who became important musical and spiritual influences on him.
In the nineties he was a dancer in the local clubs and raveparties, absorbing the energy of techno, house and club-music in general. The nineties was also the time business-opportunity nocked on the door, with offers from Virgin Norway and Sony. Both deals fell short as Django wasn't ready for the pressure and reality of becoming an artist within an agressive, egomaniac industry. It needed stability and control. Django lacked both.
DN became very interested in the visual side to it all but also dance and the magical implementation of music in ordinary life. A flavor for fantasy and creativity, but also the need to express life and love with it's ups and downs, spawned several guitar tunes that would later manifest in what became SpaghettiSwing - a blend of crooners, country and swing music.
Django Novo moves inside almost every musical sphere naturally, playfully and without the need to explain or point in any direction regarding what style or material is the closest to his nature. Django Novo fell backwards into the future by starting the career playing at venues (as a solo act) such as Oslo Jazz Festival, by:Larm, Alta Blues & Soul Festival, Horten Festivalen to mention some, without having a record deal or presentation from any label or company.
The style was apparently old style Americana - even though his father where one of the pioneers of the Free Jazz movement in Europe. DN never distinguished old and new - making it all about musical freedom.
DN has commissioned work for TV and Film and has released dub/reggae music on Sony music and Poets Club Records in Germany. Django is currently collaborating with his long time companion Tov Ramstad, who is an accomplished cellist, double bass player and composer. They also have a duo called Silly Dreams that plays ballads written by DN. Song, guitar(DN) and Cello by Ramstad.
DN has his own label UMA where he keeps releasing music that covers Ambient, Experimental, Americana, dub and reggae. The latter will be fully presented on the forthcoming album “Inside Information” - a blend of dub, reggae and jazz/rock.
L. Van Cleef poetic take on discovering Django Novo:
THIS NEW DJANGO sings a song light as a feather that floats on a breeze as cool as death…
Gypsy Soul, Alive and Well…
YEARS AGO, I REMEMBER seeing Yul Brynner on the TV talking about the philosophy of the Gypsies. Brynner claimed to have been a quarter Romany and was elected to the position of President of the Roma, and he loved to speak from the high place of this authority. “The Roma have a saying,” he said. “Everybody else builds big boxes to live in, with walls of bricks and mortar, and they leave a tiny little keyhole through which to see the rest of the world…”
One of Brynner’s avocations was playing Gypsy songs on the guitar and singing the night away. In this he was no doubt emulating that most famous of Gypsy musicians to reach fame in modern times, Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) who practically invented the jazz guitar and yet never left behind his penchant for Gypsy music and unconventional behavior.
With all their wandering ways and Dionysian fiddle-frenzies, the Roma have left some deep ruts scratched across the surface of the spirit world. Now, following one of these trails carved into the ethereal sod, we see another wagon approaching, bells a-tinkle, amply-cleavaged women smiling and waving and bending and flashing come-hither looks. The brightly painted contraption stops, and down steps an energetic young swain, with a guitar, a voice, a complicated rhythm. He is the reincarnation of reincarnations, Django Novo, pausing to rest on his way from, Oslo? to, to, to RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.
I FIRST FOUND DJANGO on Garageband.com. On Garageband, if you want to get your music reviewed, you have to review other people’s music. You never know beforehand what is coming at you. One night I got a tune from Django Novo, called Coco, or, as it has since then been rechristened, Coucou. I couldn’t believe how great this song was, as I wrote a review for it that didn’t come close to capturing the roiling maelstrom of delights and associative imagery that floated around my mind as a result of a mere four minute experience, for days thereafter:
“What a great song! This tune, and the supremely confident, breathy delivery of it, takes me back to the 1920's faded grandeur of Stresa on Lago Maggiore; the swank hotels, palm trees, priests in black hats, and hustlin' aristocrats on the make in the park across the street. I hear overtones of Marlene Dietrich in the melody, the voices of talented but endearing people who have become expatriates from life, all those men and women without a country who will somehow contrive to wangle their way onto the planes out of Casablanca, or wherever they are...”
Django Novo: Who is this guy? First of all, he’s more than just a voice, because out of whole cloth he makes these songs that have all the feel and atmosphere of the expatriate bars in Paris, in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He says he’s Dutch, but the English of the lyrics he writes is flawless, quirky, idiomatic, polished, and crafty with slang. His arrangements are filled with eloquent silent moments that speak for all the things better left unsaid. The skill of the fingers on all those acoustic stringed and percussion instruments just takes my breath away. He somehow cloned himself, or painstakingly pieced together an ensemble, that makes, THAT Seath. I mean, you just feel the danger, the sense that while something as serious as a heart attack is about to happen, just around the corner, this tan beauty with the pearls is the thing you will still be seeing in your dreams, twenty- two years from now, when you almost succumb to amoebic dysentery in a gray motel room in Maracaibo. Back in my salad days, at the University, I went to see a performance of the Living Theater. All the thirty-something longhairs re-enacting sun worship rituals on a huge stage in a concert hall, and then they tore off all their clothing and migrated out into the crowd and physically allured and grabbed and sweet-talked and god-knows-what-all beleaguered the audience members to stand, walk, zombify themselves, just get their asses up and move onto the stage where slowly several hundred people coalesced and stripped themselves barenaked and milled about in a crowd both hot from embarrassment and cold from lack of clothing for a half an hour of NO RULES, and that was that, and now I find out that this Djangoman’s dad was there, HE WAS ONE OF THEM, that weird international corrupting influence that actually played jazz piano and brought something really new into the world (and probably every day, will again).
Oh God, let me CLIMB ON THAT ROLLERCOASTER!!!
L. Van Cleef is a writer and musician who lives in Madison, NJ, USA.
REGGAE & DUB REVISITED:
Slowly, slowly we turn our heads to the peeling tarnished mirror of where we live, and see, what, stranger man… is there a stranger man? Can there possibly be a stranger man, or are we condemned to kill them all, one by one, until there are no more mouths to feed than bites of bread to feed them…
and high over the avenues, the privy-ledged ones order up their Chinese, order up their grocery delivery boys, ride their mobile fortress limo jeep hummer combat vehicles to the local entertainment emporia searching for cheap gas, metaphorical nipples to suck on, and intravenous doses of that post apocalyptico reggae beat, stranger than strange…
Ziggy says, When the lights gone out and the food run out, all we have is just the music…
Every winter when it gets cold, I hide down in the basement of my suburbia, with a little loom in front of me, weaving woolen shawls. Slowly the before-ancient rhythm of a spell descends on me in the dimness, click-clack with the rhythm of the reed beating the thread of the weft into place, the color spelling itself out along the alternating threads, the needle waiting to finish off the hem…
I am suspended by my fingers over twenty-five thousand years of instinct, trying to keep myself warm in the damp cellar of life, while the ticking, clicking waves of hot, tropical revolution pump into my mind like a hot stew of chicken, onions, peppers, and sweat…
And Ziggy says, We got to do what Jah Jah will, or get burned within the fire…
And when Django felt that reggae snake wound round his throat, his voice went all flamenco, like the men sitting off to the side there, wringing their sinewy hands, clapping low, clapping high, wavering into scattered melismas like the muezzin on the mosque…
You can hear the anxiety trying to creep out through the crack under the wall of the door of old Django’s voice, the plea to share, the weariness, the zero holding the space where something called love used to linger…
Love and thanks to J.L.Van Cleef for this poetic and wonderful approach.
"I want to get back to the magic of albums. An album should feel like a journey and made as a concept.
One trip. This I'm aiming to create."
Django Novo currently lives and works in Oslo, Norway.
UMAinfo, Mars 2019