By Keith Sharp
Like most musicians, the Bedouin Soundclash duo of Jay Malinowski and Eon Sinclair found themselves with time on their hands as they waited out the COVID pandemic, with Sinclair travelling to Malinowski’s Victoria B.C residence to see if they could recapture the World Beat spirit of previous releases.
Their previous `Mass’ release in 2019 had seen Bedouin Soundclash delving into a New Orleans’ jazz-afro pop, electronic, gospel direction working with legends; Philadelphia House DJ King Britt and Preservation Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe. But just as the duo was about to tour the UK, the pandemic struck, leaving the pair idling.
“So, Eon came in from Toronto, and we just started to see what we could come up with,” noted Malinowski over the phone from his Victoria residence. “There was no set agenda. After ‘Mass,’ we wanted to record an album that reflected the basics of our sound. At first, it was like, okay, we’ve got six songs let’s keep going. It wasn’t like we had to force anything.”
The end result is ‘We Will Meet In A Hurricane,’ a 12-track selection of songs which aptly reflects the duo’s world-beat music roots but with a modern production edge. Bedouin Soundclash’s debut single, “Shine On,” features an instrumental contribution from English reggae punk band, The Skints, while their latest single release, “Walk Through Fire,” includes vocals by Aimee of The Interrupters.
“Because there was no apparent end limit on the pandemic, no one knew when we’d be able to go back to work. It wasn’t like you could go back to the studio; you’ve got three weeks!” allowed Malinowski. “It was more like, let’s go back to the studio one week a month, and that took a lot of pressure off us.”
Recording at co-producer Colin Stewart’s Victoria-based Hive Studios, Bedouin Soundclash has returned to their stripped-down, World Beat roots, with most of the tracks featuring a distinctive Calypso/Reggae, feel.
“The album is a vignette of certain things that we believe in or feel,” Malinowski explained. “It’s a reflective album, it’s looking back at our past, taking inventory of our roots but also looking forward at the same time. It is our first time working with Colin (New Pornographers, Destroyer, Dan Mangan). There was an obvious and rewarding synergy that contributed to the back to the basic’s aesthetic, he understood what we were trying to achieve.”
Having met initially at Kingston, Ontario’s Queens University in 2001, both Malinowski and Sinclair shared the same love of reggae and ska music. “When I grew up, I was listening to The Clash, Desmond Dekker and The Specials, those were the records I was playing at the end of my bed. And as Eon and I started to record, we were influenced by bands like Massive Attack, bands that continued that World Beat thread.”
After debuting with `Root Fire’ later in 2001, Bedouin Soundclash enjoyed a major breakthrough in 2004, when their second album; ‘Sounding A Mosaic’ featured a hit single; “When The Night Feels My Song,” a track that went to No. 1 on CFNY Radio’s radio chart, was used as a commercial for Zellers and was featured as the theme song for the CBC Kids TV program. The national radio success of that track led to an invite for the band to appear on the 2005 Vans tour and later to be featured on a 31-date Canadian tour.
Their album also filtered over to the UK, where “When The Night Feels My Song” reached No. 1 on the BBC 6 Music Chart and 21 weeks in the nation’s Top 40 Chart peaking at 24 – exposure which led to tours supporting the likes of reggae legend Vernon Buckley, Damian Marley, The Skatalites and Burning Spear.
All of this exposure led to the band receiving a 2006 Juno Award as Canada’s Top New Group.
And although music tastes have fluctuated and changed over the years and social media has proven to be the dominant musical promotional force, Bedouin Soundclash has endured, releasing a total of six albums, including their latest ‘We Will Meet In A Hurricane.’
“We’ve never said we were stopping,” defended Malinowski of the band’s recent low profile. “It’s always been when we had something new to say, we would start again. We have never tried to think about our legacy, we are just determined to move forward when the time is right.”
Now reunited with their Dine Alone Records label, Bedouin Soundclash are set for a busy 2023, with future dates set for Canada and the UK, to be announced shortly.