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Mundial Montreal: Bridge to Canada's Hip, Thriving World Music Scene

Thanks to more welcoming immigration policies, thoughtful arts funding that doesn’t shy away from so-called pop music, and a growing circle of dedicated, organized music professionals, Canada is bursting with global music talent. This energy sparked Mundial Montreal, a new conference focused on North America’s world music scene and designed to bring global music pros and artists together for useful discussion, tour planning, and discovery. Timed to share in the energy of M for Montréal, Canada’s hip, friendly showcase festival, Mundial hopes to become the leading place and platform for North America’s world music community. 

After a successful second year and yet another big growth spurt, the conference has decided to take the show on the road, with two showcases demonstrating the full force and breadth of Canada’s global music scene on January 11 (at Drom, with a cocktail reception) and January 12 (at The Living Room).

“The many immigrants Canada has welcomed have formed solid communities, and they have permeated the pop music world,” explains Derek Andrews, Mundial’s Artistic Director and Curator of Toronto’s Luminato Festival. “It’s not uncommon to see Jamaican-heritage musicians in a rock band, or South Asian-heritage musicians deep into jazz. It’s just part of the scene, part of the fabric. It’s not just immigrants playing music, but a lot of cultural collisions, where people are collaborating and making new forms of music together. It’s getting impossible to talk simply about genre.”

BrigaAlbumThis active scene and creative genre-bending, in turn, have sparked increased interest in Canada-based artists, both traditional and edgy. Mundial Montreal wants to bolster this interest, and show that great global programming can come from nearby hotspots, not just from distant lands. With the complexities of visa regimes in a post 9/11 world, North American artists with global roots and cred are proving an attractive, exciting pool of sounds and talent.

“In Canada, when we talk about cultural diversity, we talk about it as a mosaic. From our perspective, it’s ok to retain your cultural identity, and there is not as great a need to assimilate. We have a spirit of compromise that creates a cultural harmony that is, for many, the envy of the world.”

“Even worldwide there are vanishingly few dedicated world music conferences or showcase and networking initiatives out there, and there were none in North America before Mundial. People have told us in the last two years that something like Mundial was quite needed and filled a void,” reflects Sébastien Nasra, President of Avalanche Productions, the force behind both M and Mundial. “Adapting the M for Montréal model to Mundial brought a fresh approach to the world music sector. We have very organic ties with indie rock alternative and more mainstream music sectors, and that creates a natural path to 'democratize' world music. It really opens up new possibilities for emerging 'hybrid' or World 2.0 acts.”

Mundial Montreal Showcases during APAP

Friday, January 11, 2013 at Drom (85 Ave A, between 4th and 5th), 6-9 pm.

Cocktail reception (co-sponsored by Manitoba Music) and showcase.

Briga (pictured above): Sultry Montreal violinist plays spitfire turbo folk from the Balkans.
Roberto López Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra
: Colombia-born, Montreal-based guitarist leads high-energy Afro-Latin band, unabashedly adding jazz and electronic music to the mix.

: Velvet-voiced Inuk-Quebecoise songstress with striking, hip arrangements and aching, catchy songs.

Charly Yapo
: Ivoirian bassist rocks soulful, reggae-powered Afropop.

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at the Living Room (154 Ludlow, between Stanton and Rivington), 10 pm-1 am.

D’Harmo: It’s all harmonica, all the time, for this klezmer and global music-inspired Montreal harmonica quartet.
Kobo Town
: Inspired by vintage Calypso, Kobo Town crafts new, dub-inflected grooves. The group recently signed on with Cumbancha and are releasing a new album in 2013 produced by Ivan Duran.
Kae Sun
: Ghanaian-Canadian singer-songwriter, with bittersweet indie vibe and deliciously gravelly voice.

Digging Roots
: Quartet turns the Indigenous tradition of “Song Lines”—singing from landscapes by extracting melodies from the shape of the horizons—into contemporary, blues-world songs.