A year after Red Axes’ musical adventures took them through the sounds and scenes of Africa, the Israeli duo, Niv Arzi and Dori Sadovnik, are still continent-hopping. They return with the second EP in their “Trips” series, which finds them exploring the rich rhythms of Vietnam.
Started out as a post-punk band, Tel Aviv-based Red Axes is today known for creating music that builds “golden bridges”, connecting electronic, nu-disco, Balearic, indie-rock and psychedelic music. But different genres are not the only ones they’re connecting; there’s also cultures.
In 2018, the duo traveled to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where they were inspired to launch “Trips,” a multimedia project combining music, film and travel in pursuit of extraordinary collaborations. It finds the esteemed duo exploring local cultures and traditions, linking up with local musicians and recording them playing indigenous instruments as well as presenting workshops for youth music schools.
Following Trips #1: In Africa, Niv and Dori then looked to Asia, most specifically Vietnam, for the second installment in the series, Trips #2 Vietnam, which was released earlier in 2019.
The four-track EP opens with “Ho Chi Minh”, a bristling track with funky bass loops, with the hustle and bustle of a market square infusing the organic house grooves. The second track, “Hanoi”, takes an exotic turn, thanks to to the enchanting lead vocal, jungle bird calls and low-slung bass. “Phu Quoc” is filled with phased bass, an intoxicating lead line that sounds something like a didgeridoo (Aboriginal musical instrument) and a manic synth that darts about the mix with disorienting effects. The Vietnamese journey ends with the blissful “Hue”, an almost Balearic beat with a shimmering lead melody line and layers of wind instruments, claps and hits that speak directly to your soul.
Globetrotter reached out to Red Axes to talk about this particular journey and their musical influences.
Globetrotter: How are you guys doing? And do you mind telling us where you are now?
Red Axes: Hi, all is good, we are home in Tel Aviv coming back from two DJ sets in Turkey. We went straight to the rehearsal room practicing our new live shows at Sónar.
Globetrotter: We have been listening to Trips #2 and we love the songs! How did you guys decide on the destination? And how did you come up with the idea?
Red Axes: Happy you like it, thanks for the nice words!
The idea for “Trips” came after we got asked to play in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. We thought that if we were going to visit Africa we should try and do something more exciting and meaningful than just playing a gig in a club. With a great local help, we came up with a good plan and scheduled the journey, recorded local musicians, did school workshops with young music students and played some gigs. We also met Alpha Blondy and Mulatu Astatke, two legendary African musicians. We filmed everything, you can find it online under “Red Axes in Africa”.
To sum up the concept of “Trips”: There’s always a music release plus footage from each trip, and we try to finish the project with a joint concert with the local musicians we recorded with. Last year we performed together with the Yakomin band from Abidjan in Jerusalem.
Globetrotter Lab: How was Vietnam and the musical process there?
Red Axes: This time we had the chance to have more music workshops and recording sessions, thanks to our great Vietnamese friend and tour manager Levi Doan. She made a great effort and arranged the schedule perfectly.
We made a few tracks with the school kids and a few with local musicians. It was amazing and a very influential process. We traveled to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Phu Quok and Hue - just like the names of the tracks on Trips#2 Vietnam.
Globetrotter Lab: How did you guys connect with HCMC students and what was it like to give workshops for the young students?
Red Axes: Our local support over there, Levi, put everything together like magic. The workshops where flowing great and the kids seemed to enjoy and participate, some of them are very talented musicians. You can hear it on the record.
Globetrotter Lab: Where is your favorite spot in Vietnam to look for inspirations?
Red Axes: Wow, the whole trip was a huge inspiration. I think it's all these different people and cultures that give us the inspiration for this project.
But, if you’re looking for a good Pho spot I will let you know later!
Globetrotter Lab: Who are your biggest influences in music?
Red Axes: We have many big influences in music as we have been making music together for a long time. When we were kids, we shared a big love for the Beatles and felt motivated to play and write songs because of them. Later on, we were addicted to Goth and Post-Punk. At that time, we were really into bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus, etc.
When we started making more electronic and dance music, we were very influenced by artists like Kraftwerk, Moroder and Throbbing Gristle. We also draw inspiration from great DJs like Ivan Smagghe and Andrew Weatherall.
Globetrotter Lab: We need to know your #1 track on your playlist right now!
Red Axes: Exactly for that we created our new Spotify Playlist called ”Red Axes On The Road Archives"! Many favorites over there! Go check them out!
To listen Red Axes’ Trips #2 Vietnam, click here.