Indiana Daily Student

Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box has no beat box per se, but they did drop phat beats at Bonnaroo this summer. Photo by Zack Teibloom

In a world where cultures clash and politicians plunder, one band has made a message through their music of unity and harmony. Setting aside political borders and coming up with their own contrived plot: how to make you dance.\nBlending Mediterranean and Eastern European folk music with hard-core electronic beats, Balkan Beat Box is truly a band that has to be seen or heard to be understood. In a strange orgy of colors and sounds fused with strong horns, belly dancers, an MC, and seven to eight talented musicians feeding off their audience and each other, their live show is an eclectic circus full of passion and life.\nAnother stage. Another town. Always a different show. While traveling on a bus to Chicago's Summer Dance Festival, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Tamir Muskat, BBB's co-founder, had a chance to reflect on the group's past, present, and inspired evolution. And what a long strange trip it's been.\nBalkan Beat Box was born out of the bond of friendship and musicianship between its co-founders Muskat and Ori Kaplan. Muskat and Kaplan played together in several premiere NYC bands like the critically acclaimed Firewater. They gathered their favorite musicians, began traveling, and what started as an interesting project soon became a functioning band in 2003, releasing their first album in September, 2005 on J Dub records. \n"We're lucky," Muskat said, as group members echoed his sentiments over the line. "I mean, we're very good, (he said jokingly) but we're very lucky. It's been an amazing opportunity to come together. I've got no complaints."\nIf there is one major opportunity BBB has had, it's the chance to inspire and unite people all over the world with their intense, high-energy live shows. \n"99 percent of the time our shows turn into a dance party," Muskat said. "Our shows take a lot of leaps because things are constantly moving. We're changing every show."\nAnd changing is a huge part of BBB's philosophy. Muskat thinks back to only a year ago and sees the progression their music has taken saying it's "more extreme" than when they first started due to stronger beats from their new MC and new experiences the group has encountered from their travels. \n"We're obsessed with change," Muskat said. "Like a bacteria. Alive and changing all the time. That's BBB's number one rule." \nBalkan Beat Box has taken their insane stage show all over the world, from Muskat's native Israel to right here in Bloomington's backyard at the annual Lotus World Music Festival, claiming that Lotus Fest was one of their best shows due to the welcoming atmosphere. Recent graduate Chris Sommerfeld saw BBB at Lotus Fest and found he was not only impressed by the performance, but also the show theatrics.\n"They have a really all encompassing sound," Sommerfeld said. "When I saw them at Lotus Fest the lead singer was hanging upside down from the tent. It was pretty amazing and I hope to see them again." \nMuskat is proud to say that BBB's music represents cultural fusion and harmony, no matter their GPS. The band will continue their travels with upcoming shows in NYC, France and Switzerland this summer. \n"It's amazing to cross borders. It feels so natural," Muskat said. "Cultures not coming together is a huge problem in our world, especially where we come from growing up in Israel. We're proud to represent cultures living in peace."\nPlaying in front of audiences from intimate to massive keeps BBB always thriving off the diversity of the crowd. \n"We give 100 percent regardless of who is there and who is not," Muskat said. \nAfter recently playing at the three day music festival Bonnaroo, the band was able to not only explode their funky style all over the Southern Tennessee stage but also catch some of their favorites like Beck, Damian Marley, and Radiohead to name a few. Their Bonnaroo set was well attended with audiences dancing wildly even with the highly anticipated Super Jam going on a few tents over. \nThey've been called everything from "gypsy punk" to an "Eastern block party," but titles mean little to the members of Balkan Beat Box. The music means everything.\n"We've been making music all our lives," Muskat said. "As an artist you find yourself realizing you're so fucking self-centered and it's time to give back."\nAnd they give everything they've got. Every town. Every show. \nIt's almost time for the band to take the stage at their Chicago show and a night filled with dancing and musical mayhem is on the agenda. Skeptics will be converted. Fans will be entertained. Few will be standing still. Many will be inspired.

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