Stefan Hantel aka Shantel the front man of Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar who will be appearing at WOMADelaide in March, spoke to Bob Becker ahead of the festival.

When I talked to Stefan Hantel about his coming performance at Womadelaide he wanted to emphasise that his music is about the things that unite us rather than the walls that divide us, and hailing from Germany, he knows a thing or two about walls. And I guess, in this one sentiment, he encapsulates everything that is so good about Womadelaide.

Appearing for the first time at Womadelaide, and in an exclusive to Adelaide, Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar are one of the headline acts at this year’s Festival.

Shantel has been a sensation on the electronic world music scene for years. He is the legendary front man who gave the world Disko Partizani and achieved some notoriety for his collaboration with Sacha Baron Cohen on the Borat soundtrack. But the show that he is bringing to Womadelaide will feature his band the Bucovina Club Orkestar with musicians from Balkan and Romani backgrounds.

Bucovina is a region that spans Ukraine and Romania and is ethnically very diverse and culturally rich. Stefan’s background, on his mother’s side is Romanian, Jewish and German from Chernivtsi (or Czernowitz, as he calls it in German), the capital of Bucovina in Ukraine. His musical journey has been varied and vast and one of his favourite projects has been to popularize the beats that are ingrained in this area. Add to this the world of Balkanica and Dubstep, and you have a potent mix of East meets West that is at the core of the Bucovina Club Orkestar.

Stefan spoke with real fondness about Bucovina and the cultural and musical diversity which is the source of his musical inspiration. This is the region where Romanian, Romani, Klezmer, Ruthenian and Ukrainian Hutsul music found a common ground. He also talked about the gorgeous countryside and villages, the stunningly beautiful embroidery on the flamboyant traditional costumes that work so well with the frenzied polyrhythmic beats that are a feature of this area.

Stefan recalls two visits to his maternal homeland, Bucovina which were defining moments that helped shape his music.

One was a return to his grandmother’s village to get a feel for the tradition that underpins his music. The other was performing in Czernivtsi during the Orange Revolution in 2004 alongside Klezmer and Romani musicians and to not only feel the change, but to be part of the change, that was sweeping through this land. It was that “sense of freedom and democracy and breaking free from the shackles of the Stalinist past” that struck a chord with him.

And this is what encapsulates Shantel’s music now; it is wild, frenzied, free spirited full of infectious anarchic and sweaty rhythms.

You can catch Stefan Hantel (Shantel) during his Artist in Conversation Session on Saturday 9th March at 6.00 pm in the Frome Park Pavilion

Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar will be appearing on Sunday 10th March 8.00 pm on Stage 2 and Monday 11th March 7.15 pm on the Foundation Stage.

Interview by Bob Becker

Tickets and further info at https://www.womadelaide.com.au/