Ancient Yemenis chew khat with a Romanian trumpet player at a south London rave!
It’s hard to believe, but in the south of London there is a neighbourhood that answers to the ringing name of Gypsy Hill. It was precisely from there that DJ Kobyashi and Herbert Newbert decided to take over the international party scene with their hybrid club and Balkan sound. We spoke with the two brains behind the Gypsy Hill project on the release of their debut album “Our Routes”.
gypsy hill pic
Hi, guys. Who all belongs to Gypsy Hill and how long has the group been around?
Gypsy Hill is DJ Kobyashi and Herbert Newbert. The group stumbled into being in 2010. When we’re on the road playing live, then we have a few more musicians with us, of course, and then the line-up looks a bit like this:
DJ Kobyashi - decks and vocals
Herbert Newbert – electric guitar
Roi "Froik" Erez – acoustic guitar and vocals
Andrew "Candy Man" Princz – trumpet
Omer "Mr. Poo" Plotniarz – tuba
Pat "Trick" Kenny – trombone
Benoit "Goldie Banger" Parmentier – drums
Ofer "Waka" Wetzler – bass
Who does what in the group and where do you get your songs?
We, that is DJ Kobyashi and Herbert Newbert, are the main songwriters. We spend a lot of time in the studio. Sometimes the songs come up in a jam session and sometimes we just play around with loops or a vinyl cut that we like and suddenly something is there. Anything that happens to inspire us in some way ends up in the music. Once we have the songs more or less worked out, the rest of the band joins in and brings them to life!
How would you describe Gypsy Hill’s style?
Real simple: Ancient Yemenis chew khat with a Romanian trumpet player at a south London rave!
What is your link to the Balkans and particularly to the Roma?
Our first contact with this culture came mostly from old records and films such as “Black Cat, White Cat” and “Underground”. Later we were lucky to get to travel around Eastern Europe quite a bit and be on the road at festivals such as “IRAF” in Romania, where we were invited time and again.
On your debut album (Our Routes), which you recently brought out, one of the tracks features the Romanian band Besh o Drom. How did you end up collaborating with them?
“Balaka” was the first track that we made for the album and we used that sample from a Besh o Drom song. First it was just to create the right atmosphere. In the end we liked the track so much that we asked the band if we would be allowed to use it. They liked the song and what we had done with the original and were happy to give us permission... Besh o Drom is a great group and always supportive...
Are you happy with the response to the album up to now?
So far, so good, yes! We are happy to be able to make music that we love and the feedback from the fans so far has been very positive...
What else can we expect from Gypsy Hill in future and when are you planning on touring?
We’re already working on a new project that will involve a whole bunch of artists. We opened our own studio last year or so ( and have since had a lot of artists in to record or who want to record... We discovered that working as producers in the studio is something very exciting and we would like to continue with this type of work and develop it further. Right now we are putting together and planning a tour for this year. If everything goes according to plan, it looks like we’ll be playing in Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany, and maybe even some other countries as well.
OK, guys, thanks for the talk and see you soon at a Gypsy Hill gig!
Interview: Robert Lippuner / Gypsy Music Network


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