Arhai is a unique fusion of electronic music with folk influences from both the UK and Balkan regions. In live performance technology transforms the traditional instruments of the Balkans, blending it with multilayered vocals.
Biography (1998 – 2008)
Arhai project in all of its different incarnations exists from 1998, and is founded by composer and vocalist Jovana Backovic. Debut album ‘Mysterion’ was released on major Serbian label PGP, and was done in collaboration with eight musicians who performed both composed music and arrangements of the traditional songs from the Balkan region. These compositions covered the wide range of available acoustic instrumental and vocal combinations already present in the ensemble, but still retained the individual stamp of the author as well as reflecting the specific performance of each musician. As Arhai was initially created as purely acoustic group, this release represents the need of the author to follow the natural sonic combinations of instruments in acoustic environment. However, at the same time it was a crossroad – introducing electric instruments, adding the bass and drums changed the sound and brought new elements into music. As a ten piece bend ( nine musicians plus sound engineer ), Arhai performed for several years at variety of festivals in the region, during which it won two first prizes at competitions ( Balkan Youth Festival 2003 in Greece, and Festival Terminal 2005, Slovenia ) until the group disbanded at 2008, when Jovana moved to United Kingdom to complete her PhD studies in electroacoustic composition.
2008 – present day
Today, Arhai is a folktronica project – ongoing collaboration between Jovana Backovic and award winning folk guitarist, Adrian Lever who aside twelve-string guitar also plays Bulgarian version of tambura (long necked lute from the Balkan region ) and medieval dulcimer. Adrian and Jovana met in Norwich, where she was working on her degree at University of East Anglia – Adrian was already well known in the Norfolk region for his work with Acaysha and the Horses Brawl ( early and folk music duo with Laura Cannell ). After a while, the sound shifted towards electronica, and the result is second release ‘Eastern Roads‘. Recent addition to Arhai live performances were visualizations made byMassimo Mucchiut, Italian VJ and documentary maker – the last works included documentary made about the band, both generously supported by Arts Council of England.
The word ‘Arhai’( pronounced with H ) has a Greek root, it can be interpreted as ‘beginning’, ‘ancient’ or ‘principle’. for us it blends in one word all that our music is: reinventing the archetypal modes of music performance in the context of modernity.