EastEast Radio is a new 24/7 online stream of mixes, podcasts and interviews which spotlights the stories and music of North Africa, East Africa and Western Asia. Rooted in regions which are too often characterised by territorial disputes, EastEast Radio transcends geographical divides by uniting the unique and complex music born from this part of the world. And as the music plays, the concept of borders dissolves.
Launched in December, EastEast Radio was born of the EastEast project, a ‘nomadic home’ that searches for the ‘particularities and commonalities that make up the magical mosaic of today’s world’. A vision which becomes tangible in their carefully-curated Instagram, where intricate illustrations are layered amid contemplative quotes from collaborators. The project is published by the Cultural Creative Agency, whose vision is to ‘open up a cartography of solidarity across borders’. These ideas of wandering, unity, and the relationship between the local and the global inform and underpin EastEast Radio, and lend it its power to carry us across land and sea.
“Her personal and intimate storytelling pulls us across space and time, distancing and nullifying the concept of regional divides as we try to comprehend how a building across the street can be in a different country altogether”
EastEast Radio produces a 24/7 stream of music, a perpetual cascade of sound which can be dipped into at any time for rare and remarkable gems. What’s more, they also have a curated archive of guest mixes and themed podcasts, ready for listeners to immerse themselves and be transported to specific places, people and moments.
One of their newest podcasts, ‘Born in Ghostland’, is a series of conversations about what it’s like to be from a place that no longer exists. “I am Yelena, and I am recording this in Belarus, in my grandparents’ apartment,” the producer and presenter tells us. “I was born in a hospital across the street, and in a different country.” Her personal and intimate storytelling pulls us across space and time to the place and moment she is in, distancing and nullifying the concept of regional divides as we try to comprehend how a building across the street can be in a different country altogether.
Yelena continues to re-write our notions of cartography as she continues: “I haven’t spent time in this apartment, or on this street, in almost 30 years, but it was always somewhere close, no matter where I was geographically.” Her carefully spoken words on place map out the ideological premise for the rest of EastEast Radio’s archive.
One of their latest mixes is ‘Lost Tapes, Moroccan Chanson, and Cairene Avant-garde – mix by Koyil’. From the moment you click play you enter an exquisite and sometimes exhilarating compilation which takes you across countries and continents in a moment, from the entrancing soundscape of Beirut’s Youmna Saba to the vehement chorus of Morocco’s Âouniyat Ladies of Safi Disqu.
Another highlight from EastEast Radio’s bookshelf of music and voices is ‘Sounds from the Gulf’, a compilation of recordings from across the Persian Gulf, such as Saudia Arabia, Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait. ‘Sounds from the Gulf’ embarks with the sincere sound of traditional Arabic singing, before later folding into rich rhythms and impassioned beats.
“Each mix or podcast is born of differing people, places and moments, yet all united under the umbrella realm of EastEast Radio”
Another podcast takes us further east across the globe. ‘Global Zomia Vol. 5’ is formed around the music and an interview with Indonesian duo, Senyawa. Harmonic ululations announce the beginning of the recording before abrasive bass and industrial clangs enter into the mix, setting a gritty, entrancing landscape as the geography for this session before the artist is even introduced. Senyawa’s music is at once avant-garde and apocalyptic, characteristics which become more fathomable when the duo explain their current artistic focus: practicing ‘preservation’ and ‘self-sufficiency’ when life feels like the ‘end of the world’. Their music and words demand full absorption, and become even more compelling as they discuss Western perspectives of non-Western music.
“Western music has been explored over and over again, but non-Western, traditional music, is less explored – or from the Western point of view, it’s exotic. We cannot blame them for feeling that way, it’s natural. It’s new to them, but they have to realise that this music is not new, it’s always been there. From the Western point of view, non-Western music has been ‘left behind’, but we experiment too – people are making weird stuff here.”
“Things like this [EE Radio] create more and more access to Indonesia,” they say, enunciating how the soundwaves of EastEast Radio ripple and open up sonic travel routes across the world.
EastEast is a small project at present, yet boasts a remarkable reach of artists and places. British musician Nabihah Iqbal is one of several esteemed artists to have graced their airwaves, as she hosts and handpicks a selection of North African and Middle Eastern music in ‘From Crackling Oud to Saudi Disco’. Nabihah takes us on a passage through eclectic, jazzy rhythms before moving into disco and house – a mosaic of genres contrasting and intersecting like landscapes and cultures across the world.
EastEast Radio bestows a liquid, intersectional space wherein music evokes and transports you across North Africa, East Africa and Western Asia in a borderless direction. Each mix or podcast is born of differing people, places and moments, yet all united under the umbrella realm of EastEast Radio.