Leeds trio Kinaara set to release new singles which explore music connections with Punjab

A Leeds band whose music explores the connections between Punjab and the West is set to release its first extended play (EP) record singles this week.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:02 pm
From left to right: Simon Henry, Satnam Galsian, John Hogg (photo: Kinaara)

Across The River EP is set for release on Friday, April 16 following band Kinaara's first single release in March this year.

It consists of four tracks called Lang Aaja, Chan Kitha Guzari Aayi, She Moved Through The Fair and Heer.

Kinaara was first brought together by Leeds singer Satnam Galsian in 2018 as she joined forces with guitarist John Hogg and drummer Simon Henry.

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The trio aim to achieve an identity that reflects on Satnam's Punjabi heritage and the UK upbringing that the three of them have had.

They began with the folk songs of Surinder Kaur and the popular songs of Noor Jehan which they infused with Hogg's electric guitar textures and Henry's jazz inflections.

They then brought in songs from the West, of hope and betrayal, and plugged them into their music.

Satnam said she has always harboured a desire to bring the old songs of the Punjab to a wider audience, fearing they would die out with the older generation.

During a year of lockdowns, the group soldiered through to record their first EP which reinterprets and connects the folk songs of the Punjab and the Celtic Fringe.

The trio hope their sound is unique on the Leeds music scene, after having played previously at the Leeds World On Our Doorstep festival and the International Musicport festival.

The EP can be listened to when it has been released here.

Here's how Satnam describes the tracks:

‘Lang Aaja’ opens up the EP and its popular Punjabi folk song of devotion and emotional discarding finds joy in it’s own sound. The song is given a slower groove and an electric guitar tip of the hat to Surinder Kaur. Punjabi folk meets Western rock aesthetics.

In ‘Chan Kitha Guzari Aayi’, the lament of Satnam’s vocal is echoed by the muscular electric guitar weaving lines and harmony inspired by the song’s melody. The sound is rooted in Raga Bhairavi, king of the morning ragas and the journey is compelled by unrelenting hand snare and kick drum groove. An old song delivered in stripped back electrified form, a melding of rock and raga. In defiance of the song’s story of betrayal, there’s no submission here.

‘She Moved Through the Fair’, the old song from Ireland is presented here with Indian vocal inflections and ornamentation. An exploration of singing styles from East and West. A marriage of Celtic and Hindustani: from the tanpura drone and the introductory nod to an alap, to the vocal improvisation- also in alaap style- and the jhala inspired ending. Alap is the methodical exploration of the notes moving from low to high. Drum kit and electric tape echo guitar give the song a warm embrace. Redolent of Raga Khamaj, the song’s winding melody is itself cross cultural and mystical .

‘Heer’ sees the king of the morning ragas return for a twisted jazz waltz, guitar lines and riffs spinning off the ornamented vocal melody. Kinaara deliver a classic Punjabi folk tale of love and forced marriage. The song is a plea to Heer’s father for release from the wedding procession for she loves another. The drums and guitar emanate from Heer’s heart at the same time as they spur the procession on to it’s inevitable broken hearted conclusion and closes the EP.

About the band members:

Satnam Galsian is a British-Asian vocalist. Since receiving her Indian classical music degree from Birmingham Conservatoire she has been working with a range of artists creatively exploring the interplay between North Indian and Western music traditions. Her vocals have graced tours with Sonia Sabri Company, drum and bass tracks and a play for Radio 4. She is

interested in promoting health and wellbeing through music.

John Hoggwas beguiled by the electric guitar when he saw his cousin play Christmas carols on a Gibson one night. At Leeds College of Music he studied jazz and then North Indian classical music - the same course as Satnam Galsian. Inspired, he became immersed in Indian music. But, missing the loud sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, he switched to epic indie blues folk pop funk rap - always looking for a creative niche. In between he would teach and compose.

Simon Henry has a BA degree in jazz studies from Leeds Conservatoire and was awarded a full scholarship to complete his MA in jazz. He regularly takes trips to New York to study with influential jazz drummers and he has performed with many of the North’s top jazz musicians.