Musical Road to Womex 2023 – Danûk

Our Musical Road to Womex continues on its rhythmic path, having previously touched Armenia, Venezuela, Estonia, and Réunion, and now arrives in Syria via Istanbul to introduce an inspiring project and share some heartwarming music. In this episode, we have the pleasure of hosting Danûk, a band formed in 2015 in Istanbul by Syrian Kurdish refugees. Initially, the band used their musical talents for survival, performing on the streets of the city.

Discovered by a social enterprise, they composed film and radio scores, eventually opening their own studio and gaining support from the British Arts Council. Their debut album, Morîk, resurrects century-old Syrian Kurdish music from phonograph recordings, creating auditory icons that celebrate their cultural heritage.

The band’s mission is to spread Kurdish culture and promote peace through their music, transcending boundaries and misconceptions.

Could you briefly introduce your music to someone new at Womex and share the key influences and origins of your unique sound?

We are Danûk, a Kurdish folk band based in Europe. Our childhood memories, our mountains and deserts, the love songs sung by shepherds, the stories told around the fire at our harvest rituals, the borders we crossed, and the music and dance of our wedding celebrations all influence and inspire Danûk’s sound.

Could you share a personal anecdote or experience that significantly impacted your musical journey and the evolution of your sound?

Danûk was created in 2015 in Istanbul, a city to which I and some of the other band members moved to escape the war in Syria. For us, performing Kurdish music in Istanbul’s streets was a remarkable step towards liberty. Syria forbade the playing of Kurdish music in public areas; only private parties were permitted. When we performed for the first time in Istanbul, we observed how listeners from all over the world responded to our music by dancing. At that moment, we felt like we were really able to share our joy with the world.

In a world full of diverse musical genres, styles, and traditions, how do you believe your music stands out and brings something fresh and exciting to the audience’s ears?

Our new album “Morîk” is partly a research and music preservation project. We discovered that European explorers had traveled to our homeland in the early 1900s with phonographs and recorded shepherds and priests singing in Kurdish on wax cylinders. These cylinders were stored in museum archives in Berlin and Vienna. In our new album, we found these old recordings and brought them back to life, arranging new music to accompany the original lyrics. Kurdish music still remains largely unknown to the world and is in danger due to years of conflict, the exodus of musicians, and the fragility of a culture that is largely orally transmitted. As we can’t bring the world to Kurdistan, we will bring Kurdistan to the world.

As Womex is not only a Worldwide Music Expo but also a lively global music funfair, are there any showcases you’re looking forward to attending and enjoying or artists participating that you would like to meet during those five days?

What a difficult question. There are so many! We particularly loved the resourcefulness and amazing rhythm of Kin’gongolo Kiniata and the raï music played by Les Héritières.

This edition of Womex will take place in A Coruña. Have you ever been there, and is there anything specific you’re looking forward to doing, visiting, eating, and/or drinking in the Spanish city?

We have been to Andalucia and Catalunya, but Galicia is new to us. We love Spain and feel very at home with the culture, Mediterranean lifestyle, and the people. We are looking forward to trying the seafood and the Galician wine and orujo and maybe hearing some bagpipe music.

Womex is a unique opportunity to share and showcase your music with new people and inform them about your upcoming projects. Could you reveal some of your plans for the future?

Our new album was released in May of this year. We want to continue to share this project with the world. In November, we will be playing at the Kurdistan Festival organized by the Elbephilarmonie in Hamburg. In the longer term, we would like our performance to evolve and expand, to include live dancers and costumes and for it to become a larger show that gives a taste of all aspects of Kurdish culture.

If you had to draft an invitation card for our readers to join you at Womex and enjoy your showcase, what would you write in it?

Feel the sound of the bilur echoing through the Kurdish mountains, the heartbeat rhythm of the daff, the tremor of the buzuqi, and the voices of priests and shepherds chanting words of love, loss, and joy. Join us to experience Kurdish music as never before. We are waiting for you with open arms at Teatro Colon on Friday, October 27th at 21:30.


- Danûk will be performing at the Theatre Stage on Friday 27th October from 9.30PM -