Romania has been experiencing a taste of the Minneapolis scene with a new series of shows called Synergy, a tour that weaves through the eastern European country showcasing Minneapolis and California groups alongside Romanian locals. Local bands Switzerlind and Estate join up with Dena out of Los Angeles and the Romanian bossanova outfit Luiza Zan & Rick Condit Quartet for a number of eclectic shows, including this past weekend's architectural festival in Brasov in the midst of the city square. With the loose concept of building a sort of sister city kinship across the ocean, the main idea is to put on a series of interesting shows in a number of beautiful locations.
Gimme Noise caught up with Synergy organizers Alex Codoreanu and Adam Ableman before the tour began to talk about what they were to embark on.
[jump] Gimme Noise: The idea behind the name "Synergy" is the coming together of the two countries and music scenes?
Alex Codoreanu: There's definitely some underlying concepts behind it, but it's really as straightforward as, instead of dealing with music videos being projected as the face music, to bring artists over there and interact as people rather than these packaged things that get presented out there. I feel like music is such a great, human thing, and we really need to put people together to see how to communicate.
Adam Ableman: It's kind of surprising that there still exists a vacuum [in Romania] for this type of stuff. The only bands that go out are very A-list acts, the most popular, like Madonna, Metallica, stuff like that. But it is about the two cultures running in a certain parallel. It is interesting, over the past few years of going there and doing business there and stuff like that, it definitely lends itself to that.
Gimme Noise: Have any of the bands played Romania before?
AC: I don't think Switzerlind nor Estate has really traveled [outside the U.S.] to go and play music. It's a new experience from the ground up, which has made it easier to put in a lot of work. We don't have any other experiences where we can say, "Oh that was easier."
AA: It is a fresh perspective. It's weird for me because I've been a musician for a long time but I've never really wanted to go on tour because it never really seemed that worthwhile. But something like this, where we're doing this kind of cultural combination, the travel, music and film aspects really make a lot of sense to me. That's where this is essentially heading, and it's just incredibly interesting to see the potentials of it. Who knows? There's four bands, we go to five different cities, and, more or less, it's two nights and two bands per night. But the whole time we're recording audio of every single show, filming every single show with awesome cameras, and we'll do some projects out in the countryside. We're gonna stay in a castle for two evenings and things like that. We're generally just keeping it an open slate, because it's really hard to define these things. You can't exactly make storyboard for this. We might not end up with enough for a film; you never know. We might just end up with enough for really cool YouTube videos and stuff like that, but it's a really killer Plan B. There's something like 15 travelers, 18 people counting the bands, and then with support that pushes us somewhere towards 30 [people involved in planning].
AA: We got lucky that we're working with Luiza [Zan] because she's already established and many people admire her, so it's easy for her to go and get gigs and set this up. I would say on the Romania end of things, she's probably brought the most to it. But the rest of it, just putting together the press packs and stuff like that, communicating and making sure stuff goes through, setting up the bus and all that... It doesn't seem to hard, actually. It seems like there's definitely harder things in life to accomplish, but we're all people with activated right brains and stuff - there's a little bit of chaos that happens in that - but it's all very natural.
GN: What's the future of this whole project beyond this tour? Are you doing more things like this in the future?
AA: This is kind of an uncanny thing. Nobody's concerned about making money, in fact, we're probably going to be losing a lot of money on the tour. What we're trying to do is just calibrate specifically this experience, what does it cost to do this, what does it take... Put together the infrastructure because we're going to put together a non-profit to help facilitate future tours for people. If we come up with a math equation that says, "Look, if you have a band of four people and you raise fifteen grand or something, you can come tour Romania for two weeks." That's a possibility, but the non-profit itself is a bunch of different arms that really get into a different area.
AC: It's gonna be the Romanian Artist's Association, so we're not really just focusing on music. There's plans for bringing out painters and having art shows for them as well, there's some stuff we're trying to with movies and Romanian cinema, and bring that across here as well. This'll be our first project where we actually get started on doing things, and then keep working on different projects as they move forward, and to also create a local group of people that are understanding that a non-profit organization can do so many things. [Romania] has been a communist country until 1989, so a lot of alternative infrastructures are not as well understood or believed to be able to do things. So that is also an exciting thing for us to do, opening up people's minds to doing things in a different way.
For more on the Synergy tour of Romania, follow along on their tour blog.