Rupa & the April Fishes
|Rupa & the April Fishes'|
|Origin||San Francisco, California, United States|
Rupa and the April Fishes is a musical group based in San Francisco, California and is fronted by Rupa Marya. Their songs are a mixture of international musical styles and the lyrics are sung in multiple languages, primarily French, Spanish and English. Rupa & the April Fishes echoes the roots of San Francisco's Bay Area, flowing its Latino, African American, Yelamu Indian, and Islander pasts together. Rupa, the lead singer sought out a diverse group of musicians to fulfill her dreams of producing a thought provoking composition while remaining playful and exotic.
The group began as a duet between Rupa and cellist, Ed Baskerville, that played on streets, in streetcars and art galleries reverberating their nomadic spirits. From there the band grew into an eclectic group of talented musicians playing sold out shows in well-known venues around the country. The band came together to create a form of music that would build connections among the diverse population of the Bay Area. The band started off playing in local bars, with influences of street music, exotic Latin grooves, Indian ragas and Romani soul. They played their first show at the Red Poppy Art House, an intimate performing arts venue in San Francisco. Rupa’s vision of blending a mix of languages strives to forge a deeper connection, reaching beyond the boundaries of race and geography. Their music is often described as multifaceted, ever changing, and redefining.
The group’s name derives from an old French saying “les poissons d’avril” related to the English term “April Fools”. It is an April Fools tradition in France for people to stick paper fishes on unsuspecting peoples backs. While the origin of the story is questionable, Rupa remarks “one of the stories is that when a French king changed to the Roman calendar from the pagan calendar that was in wide use at the time some people who still wanted to celebrate the New Year in April. So these are the people who would give the fishes, the April fish, to celebrate the beginning of the New Year. During the Bush Administration, we were feeling like April fishes—people who don’t believe the reality that’s handed to them by some higher order, but instead insist on the reality they perceive in front of them. It’s a political and social commentary.”
According to Marya, the title of their 2008 CD release of eXtraOrdinary rendition was a reference to the United States policy of Extraordinary Rendition. "I actually wanted people to Google the expression and then read, oh the first thing that comes up is a Wikipedia article, you know, not an album," said Marya.
The title of the 2009 CD release of Este Mundo means 'this world.' Of this release, Marya said, "este mundo is a collection of sounds and songs highlighting life's accidental beauty and surging joy as well as their inexorable partner: human suffering." Este Mundo was recorded by engineer Oz Fritz with an assortment of artists. Guests on the album included rapper Boots riley of The Coup and other talented artists including Tin Hat’s trumpeter Ara Anderson and Djordje Stijepovic, a Serbian slap bassist. The album encompasses a wide variety of sounds and cultures ranging from Columbia cumbia to Indian ragas.
The group has been touring internationally in North America, throughout Europe and Asia since 2006, appearing at venues and festivals around the world. They have played B-Fest in Athens, the Sziget Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Power to the Peaceful Festival, Central Park Summerstage, Chicago's Millenium Park, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Bali Spirit Festival, Rajasthan International Folk Festival, Mosaic Music Festival, SF Bicycle Music Festival and more.
Their tours often mix traditional venue/festival shows with outreach to communities who enjoy the musical love and cannot afford what has become a luxury of hearing good live music. The band supports the greater democratization of live musical experience and supporting artists to maintain a livelihood so that they can bring people the music they need.
They have traveled on tour by bicycle, by horse-drawn carriage and by more carbon-producing methods such as automobile, airplanes, trains and boats.
- La Pêcheuse EP (2006)
- eXtraOrdinary rendition (album) (Cumbancha, 2008)
- Este mundo (Cumbancha, 2009)
- Build (Electric Gumbo Radio Music, 2012)
- Hix, Lisa (July 20, 2006). "Rupa and the April Fishes". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Corneli, Zoe (May 22, 2008). "Rupa and the April Fishes". The World.
The band's LIVE sound can be highly varied, depending on the nature of the tour. They have played symphonic halls with delicate string quartet arrangements of their more romantic music, and they have played raucous rock concerts with a 10-piece band. Typically their line up includes a 5-piece band.