An Interview with
by Paula Edelstein
“What we have in mind with FUTURE TRIBE is to go to the one place that everybody carries within themselves. We believe that the whole external universe is also found within us all. There’s one planet, and this one planet is called Yulara. On this one planet is this peaceful, easy, partying tribe, and it’s the future tribe. Everybody can connect to the Future Tribe within.” Groove, soul, heart, Yulara.
Now I can really get behind the concept of Yulara’s (Annie Hilsberg and Robert Matt) latest CD entitled FUTURE TRIBE on the Higher Octave Label. Songs like “Om Namah Shivaya,” “Future Tribe” and “Children of the Pleaides” really prepare a place for you in a very peaceful universe. The 12 great songs relay their jazz, world, ambient, and trance dance grooves in such a way as to really pull you into their musical realizations. African vocalist Angelique Kidjo (who co-wrote the title song), the very talented guitarist Brian Hughes and Cusco join the talented duo, on this great musical excursion. I caught up with Annie for a really nice chat about her latest CD. Let’s hear what she had to say!
JazzUSA: Hello Annie! Congratulations on your latest release FUTURE TRIBE. It’s really a great way to bring the world together! I really like the concept and with all the ruckus in the world, we can always use a great planet like Yulara! Many with the Venus vibe could use some more help! Are the songs a variation on the themes of COSMIC TREE and ALL IS ONE?
Yulara: Hello Paula. Yes, basically that’s right. The idea behind Yulara is that we wanted to create songs as huts in a cyber village. In this village, live people of all different cultures with music being the connecting factor. Yulara is an experience to explore this purely universal language which is music! Music knows no boundaries, needs no laws, is totally free to enter any heart at any time and has the ability to heal us human beings, to recognize our divine nature! On this CD, we added 12 new huts for the “future tribe” and found out that Yulara is actually a planet within – Annieways – that’s the idea.
JazzUSA: Bringing people together through the power of music is always a great idea. I imagine you’re gaining an even bigger audience with FUTURE TRIBE with the addition of such great guest stars as Angelique Kidjo, Brian Hughes and Cusco?
Yulara: It was an honor for us to work with these musicians and sure, we hope that this work will broaden the audience of Yulara.
JazzUSA: Annie, when you and Matt were deciding which songs to include on FUTURE TRIBE, did you have Angelique in mind to co-write the title track or was it a spontaneous happening in the studio?
Yulara: It was the idea of Patrick Conseil at Warner Chappell in New York and thanks to him, we were able to send tracks back and forth between Berlin (Germany) and New York (USA) with the vocals recorded on to the playback. Jean, Angelique’s husband did the vocal recording in his studio in New York and Robert included them in the song arrangement in Berlin. It was a meeting in musical cyberspace! The song turned out so well and the name says the whole thing about the vibe of the CD that it’s the title track now!
JazzUSA: Annie, Wow!! FUTURE TRIBE spotlights Yulara’s increasingly jazzy, up tempo direction which is another stage in your musical evolution. Why have you chosen to include more jazz elements in your music?
Yulara: To us, it is simply an evolutio of the Yulara Sound. It’s just fun, to play these kind of tunes and rhythms and they do contain jazz. We also love many great saxophone players as well as other instrumentalists in jazz history. But jazz is evolving all the time…in all directions and so on FUTURE TRIBE, there are also influences of World music and definitely Ambient or as we call it Trance Dance in it.
JazzUSA: Annie, you are one of three really special female saxophone players that I respect and admire; the other two being Candi Dulfer and Suzanne Grzanna. Why did you choose the saxophone to express your musical talent?
Yulara: I started to play flute when I was 12 and then picked up the saxophone only when I was 19, so that was pretty late. But that’s when I also wanted to be able to express the “yang” side in me – the more male energy; to scream out what I had to say…and the saxophone is the closest instrument to the human voice and what I love I that you can tell stories with it. To me, what makes it very attractive is that you can express all kinds of emotions with it. But, I also love the flute and especially the alto flute which I play a lot on all three CDs. It has a very deep, healing sound quality and a mystic element to it.
JazzUSA: You really expressed what a lot of us feel. I really enjoy both instruments – saxophone and flute for those same reasons. Which saxophone do you play and which reed gets the best sound for you?
Yulara: I play a silver Selmer Super Action Series 2 and Guardala Super R&B mouthpiece! I tried many times to get different mouthpieces, but none of them worked as goo as this one so I stick to it!! I play Bari Plastic reeds. It’s a very loud set up but I love playing “live” with this set up. It’s fun and has a lot of power. My soprano saxophone is a curved Yanagisawa with two metal platings and I play is with a Bari mouthpiece and Vandoren reeds. It’s my baby! I bought it after playing about five notes on it. I fell in love with it right away!!
JazzUSA: Those are really beautiful horns and you sound great Annie. The great Indian rhythms, World grooves and multi-cultural jazz experience that we are hearing on FUTURE TRIBE is often categorized as New Age in the USA. Is there such a category on German radio?
Yulara: Only to a very small degree. In Germany, we didn’t have a New Age movement like in the USA. Some tracks are surely known here but probably more in the “esoteric” field or in Ambient music like “Café del mar” or the whole Ibiza – chill out groove. These different scenes haven’t met the broad radio audiences so far.
JazzUSA: Well you’re really making an impact with FUTURE TRIBE on our shores. Is there a tour in the works and if so, are you coming to the USA?
Yulara: We really want to – and we’re ready to come to the USA anytime. We’re trying to find a good management company for the USA right now. So if anybody wants to help us, please write to Yulara@23rdspirit.de!
JazzUSA: Annie you’re so talented, that shouldn’t take very long. But I know what you mean when you want to express yourself just right…and with the right people backing you. Thank you so much for this interview. I really like FUTURE TRIBE. Tell Robert thanks and say hello to Angelique, Brian and Cusco. Stay in touch!
Yulara: Paula, thank you so much.
JazzUSA: Annie, I had a great time and you’re so welcome. Stay in touch with YULARA (Annie Hilsberg and Robert Matt) and check out their latest CD, FUTURE TRIBE on Higher Octave Music. Visit their website at http://www.yulara.com