Detlef Zoo, the band, comes out of the closet


Detlef Zoo (formerly Detlef) has always been a band. However, there seemed to be a misconception that it was really just a solo act, singer Uldis Dirnēns doing all the work, especially after the release of the band’s first album, Tu izliecies par sevi (You’re Pretending to be Yourself), back in 2004.

Go to the band’s Web site and you immediately understand differently. After a brief and nonchalant mention of Dirnēns’ reality music show stint, it is made quite clear that although some of the members have since changed, the band now known as Detlef Zoo is a collective of four “equal and like-minded friends.”

The 2004 album had its success, but I can only recall one song from it and can sadly only pretend to remember the rest of the tracks. But two good things come with the band’s sophomore album Skapī (In the Closet), released in December 2007. First, it is an excellent and at times fairly bad-ass “chill out” album. Second, it is proof that there is strength in numbers because as a “recognized plural,” these guys just plain sound better.

Alt-rock band Detlef Zoo is Mareks Ameriks (drums), Kaspars Ansons (guitar and vocals), Dirnēns (vocals and guitar), and Martins Millers (bass and vocals).

The first and title track of the album is a straight forward mantra of “let us go where we want” with text that is not only mature, but a little ironic, as the band is more out in the open than locked away. There isn’t much to write home about for this one, but it’s conceptually good and paves the way for the rest of the album.

The second track, “Love Town,” is a Blur-meets-Queens-of-the-Stoneage track that is in English and confuses me. I’m not talking grammar (for once), but rather subject matter. It’s about love in all forms, yet the song is riddled with phrases like “I’m happy alone” and “It’s a perfect day to get away.” At least is has a strong beat.

The next two tracks, “Par nozīmītēm” (For Badges) and “Lēts triks” (Cheap Trick), are quite similar, though the former urges people to get over themselves and look at what’s going on in the world and the latter is, from what I gather, a slightly duty-bound look at relationships, as well as musically somewhat superior.

Track five, “Funny Girl” is another English tune with a nice drum groove. The text kind of pokes fun at all of the commercialized songs—specifically about love—that are out there.

At this point I could note that the album seems to be a fan of the percussion and rhythm aspects of music, which is also reflected in the sixth track, “Mana dārgā” (My Dearest). With its abundance of drum set, highlighting cymbals, the track is immediately heavier sounding than its predecessors and has an additional “far away” feel to it.

The pace of the album picks up drastically in the next track, “If It Makes Us Happy”, with a balance of aggressive music and soft vocals. The lyrics kind of connect back to the first track of the album, but in contrast express the mortality of a band as a concept. Its members are aware of how easily something can fall apart, but for now, it works and feels good, so it’s meant to be.

Track eight, “Labrīt, miesniek!” (Good morning, Butcher!), is my one of my favorites. What I like about it is the almost too-slow molasses movement of the lyrics. The line “Dievs, lūdzu izsit pienzobus man!” has a strong sense of immediacy without sounding like it. There’s no “I want to go through years of life to gain experience”. It’s “Give me experience! NOW!” Someone, anyone, please use this song for a slow-motion or reflective moment scene in a coming-of-age or action movie, where a young person has to learn to fight the bad guys to survive. Just make it good or you’ll ruin the song.

“Zaļais krekls” (The Green Shirt), the next track, makes you wonder if you’ve missed something. It may be because it’s a happier sounding song and very different from a good deal of the rest of the album. Or maybe it’s the Telletubbyesque “la-la-las” at the end of the song.

Track 10 is my absolute favorite. The breakdown of “Ar vienu savu silūetu” (With One of Silhouette) is as follows: guitars = love them; percussion = love it; vocals = love them; lyrics = love them. This song could be in that same action movie. Remember? The one that isn’t a flop.

The next three tracks make up what is the collectively strong close to the album. “So Sophisticated” is like “Funny Girl” but with different lyrics. “Ja vien…” (If only…) is melancholy in text and instrumentals, but a very beautiful song, though nothing more. “So Cold” is a heavy final track, but doesn’t offer any “Pow!” to the album.

Skapī ends up being another one of those albums where, though there aren’t many individually striking songs, the overall whole is where it’s at. With songs ranging from cynical outlooks on relationships to social topics and with a very high cool factor, this whole certainly leaves a good impression.



Detlef Zoo

MICREC,  2007

Track listing:


Love Town

Par nozīmītēm

Lēts triks

Funny Girl

Mana dārgā

If It Makes Us Happy

Labrīt, miesniek!

Zaļais krekls

Ar vienu savu siluetu

So Sophisticated

Ja vien…

So Cold

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Ēnas will sweep you away, but not completely


People always say the pace of life in Europe is more relaxed or simply slower than elsewhere. This review, for example, could (or should) have been finished weeks ago, but I like to think on my words before I commit them to “.doc”. Rock-pop group Ēnas has been together since 2005 (and averaging three concerts a month since 2006), but its self-titled debut just came out back in April of this year. The band took its time as well. My reactions to the album were also delayed, as well as fickle. And although I can’t say I’m 100 percent swept away, I can at least recommend Ēnas further.

The four-man band is a smorgasbord of total talent, consisting of Lauris Valters (vocals), Jānis Ķergalvis (solo guitar, acoustic guitar), Dāvis Ābrams (keyboard, piano) and Mārtiņš Miļevskis (drums). Though the group is relatively new, its style of music rings more familiar than not, a rock-pop sound that tends to easily remind people of bands like Latvia’s Lādezers or U.S. band The Calling.

The album starts with a very steady orchestral and piano introduction that sounds like something you might hear during a transition scene on some American television series. I can only understand about seven words total, but I’m not bothered. Valters’ voice soars through the latter half of the first one minute and 34 seconds of the album and leaves you with a good feeling about what is hopefully to follow.

On that note, not only does Ēnas start its album out in English, but more than half of the album is in English. A somewhat risky move for a debut? Maybe, but Ēnas lucks out in that it doesn’t affect the quality of the album as a whole.

Track 2, “Beautiful Morning,” follows the same musical principles of the intro but trades the strings for guitar. The lyrics are very positive and fairly well developed, though there is the questionable use of the word “funny,” which sticks out painfully. The most notable and positive aspect of the song is the vocals, which are well-rounded and don’t disappoint.

“Viss savādāk” (Everything’s Changed) takes a darker turn from the previous track. A slightly blast-from-the-past synth intro and background beat accompany lyrics that build a picture of a brownish haze of desparation. Even the lyrics portray the narrator as having a sense of being lost, knowing but at the same time not knowing where he stands in the implied relationship. But I feel the song lacks originality. The sound is nothing new, the title of the song is nothing new—it’s a weak link in the album.

The next track, “Par šo un to” (About This and That), is simple in nature. A very strong guitar and snare beat demands your attention and is good at getting you physically involved in the listening process. However, the lyrics are not impressive—the song is about juxtaposition and contrast, but nothing original. The music is good, though, and pleasantly passive-aggressive. If you can look past or just ignore the ho-huminess of the words, the track is decent.

“SirC” (Heart) is probably the first and best known song by Ēnas. I had actually forgotten about the song until I listened to the entire album for the first time and, very fittingly, my heart jumped with joy at hearing something I had heard before. The guitars dominate this track, giving you the first good listen at what these guys can do. Once again, the vocals let loose and the whole thing just comes together. It’s a catchy song that radiates positivity and, though I wasn’t moved by it way back when, it’s now one of my favorite songs of the year.

My second favorite, Track 6, “Ar skaistām frāzēm” (With Beautiful Words) is a meloncholy song, but has a truly wonderful sound to it. I could listen to the intro over and over again, even with the synth, which actually works this time. A combination of guitar, drums and excellent bass line melt together in a smooth beat that leads you into the vocals almost without noticing what’s happened. The lyrics leave you with an achy feeling and, even though it’s a sad song, I appreciate the lack of beating around the bush. It’s no-nonsense, a “No, something’s up and this is what it feels like” tune:

Kāds no mums nav patiess.
Vai savādāk var būt?
Daudz sapņu prāts noliedz,
Tos zaudējot, sirds lūst.

Tad pēkšņi viens var pateikt
viss beidzies, kā būs – tā būs.
Tā zvaigzne kādreiz izdziest,
tai mirklī pagaist it viss.

And let me say once more just how big a fan I am of the bass line. Thumbs. Up.

Skipping ahead a bit, track 8, “Neprātīgais” (Reckless) starts out slow, then unexpectedly picks up. There’s an interesting ambiguity here in subject matter and I like the image the lyrics create. This song is also one of two (the other being track 7, “Somehow”) that made me start thinking that Ēnas might be borderline Christian rock. The subject matter and potential references to religion are more apparent in these two tracks, but looking back over the preceding material, the rest of the album could also easily be associated with belief in a higher power.

Tracks 7 (“Somehow”), 9 (“Double Coffee”), 10 (“Rainbow”) and 11 (“Mr. Evil”) are all decidedly my least favorite parts of the album. While technically strong, they form a line of English tracks with randomized styles and approaches with which I apparently have some kind of problem.

“Somehow,” which isn’t saved by the wonderful musical talent of the group, features less than perfect English grammar and the one and only profanity on the entire album. Is the song a huge reference to the Rapture or something? The second coming of Christ? Then there’s “Double Coffee,” which I thought would be a clever reference to the café and restaurant chain (it’s not). These two tracks form a pair of grammatical anti-wonders that I can’t bring myself to get over. It doesn’t make a difference that the written lyrics are mostly correct, because it’s what you hear that matters.

“Rainbow” and “Mr. Evil” also left me less than enthused. Maybe the problem with these tracks is that Ēnas, being a relatively new group, has already involved so many other people. If the band members had less outside help and more of themselves on their first album, there would be a better chance for them to establish themselves as themselves. Let us hear who you are before you let us hear what you can do with everyone else.

Track 12 is back in the more consistent style of the band. The second verse is a little too cliché, but the refrain is outstanding. Right away it’s apparent that the English is much more advanced. As a result, I’m inclined to think that this song may have meant more to Valters than the other English tracks. In any case, the sound here is more refined. The vocals run through a wider range and the individual instruments can be heard much better than in the other.

“Acīm ciet” (With Eyes Closed) is the “cool” song of the album. Astro’n’out vocalist Māra Upmane joins Valters in a duet that basically summarizes a lot of what has been already “discussed” in the lyrics of the rest of the album. One of the nuances of the song is that Upmane and Valters seem to have a similar vocal range, which they take complete advantage of. They take turns in singing the high and low notes. Their voices mesh well and the track slows the album down, nicely preparing it for the close.

The final track of the album has two parts to it: the actual song, “Player”, and a bonus track, which is a rather unconvincing English version of “SirC.” “Player” is another track with some good imagery and, looking past some grammatical speedbumps, is probably one of the best songs on the album. Once again all members of the band are given the chance to clearly show what they can do. Piano and vocals run for a little over three minutes without drums and guitar, then the group has four more minutes to prove that it is adept at different instrumental-voice combinations and that it can take it down a notch without a hitch.

I have to say that if for the most part it sounds like I don’t like the album, it’s not all true. My opinion of the band changed completely after I saw Ēnas perform live. I felt cheated that the album didn’t have the same vibe as the live show. It wasn’t just the that it was a surround-sound, live gig. On stage the band members sounded so much more “there” with their music. It was like I was watching a completely different band play the same Ēnas songs. They might benefit from recording a live album: the electricity they emit and receive is something else. Ēnas, when you break it down, is a group of very talented individuals who work together like they were born to do so.




Antena,  2008

On the Web

Grupa Ēnas

The band’s official Web site includes news about the band, samples of its music and other features. LV

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Cosmos heads down a new path, and to Canada

When Latvians go visit someone, they bring a ciemakukulis, a standard present for the host. It’s not generally necessary to overthink what to bring: you more or less know what to get your relatives and you know what your friends like. But what are you supposed to bring a capella group Cosmos?

Apparently, a pineapple will do just fine.

In the minutes before a recent interview in Rīga with the group’s three “Jankas”—Jānis Ozols (tenor), Jānis Strazdiņš (bass) and Jānis Šipkēvics (countertenor)—the pineapple provided a decent amount of entertainment. Šipkēvics and Strazdiņš evaluated its quality, while Ozols called dibs on one of the bags it was wrapped in, explaining it would be for his cat.

Cosmos also includes Juris Lisenko (tenor), Andris Sējāns (countertenor) and Reinis Sējāns (rhythm).

In less than a week, the group will be crossing the globe to spend some time with audiences in Canada. Šipkēvics, Strazdiņš and Ozols not only cleared away more than three-fourths of the pineapple, but, through light-hearted cynicism, humor and a certain degree of ever-present self-awe, they also provided insight into where Cosmos has been, where the group is now and where it is going.

Starting something new

Cosmos has been together now for more than five years, but the members have known each other much longer than that (plus, the two Sējāns are cousins). Though they were in different grades, the members “took notice” of each other while at the Riga Dome Choir School and were able to find a common idea for what to do after they were finished. Because their musical backgrounds are connected with choirs—specifically boys’ choirs—an idea formed to scale the act down and create a more concentrated collective where they could accomplish things faster, with more intensity and in a way they themselves chose. And so they started something new.

At the time, they were unable to foresee that what they started would hold together for so long or that this initial idea of theirs would be so viable.

“But apparently the combination was the right one,” Šipkēvics said, “and our ideas ended up being needed—not just by us, but be others, as well. And that, of course, makes us really happy.” Even though all six Cosmos members are very different people, this common idea, music and friendship is what brings them together.

The global a capella market isn’t that big, being dominated by five or six groups, and the genre doesn’t exactly enjoy widespread popularity. The guys themselves joked that one definition of a capella is, “Sounds just like the original, only worse and a little quieter. And without drums.” For those who have listened to any of Cosmos’ albums, it is clear the guys have immaculate talent and that if they wanted to they could each be the front man of a separate band. So why a capella, of all choices?

“Because it was one of the most logical options,” Strazdiņš explained. After years of youth choirs, a smaller group seemed a natural decision; it was an area in which they felt comfortable and something of which they knew what to expect. “We wanted to sing—and that was that.”

At the beginning of the group’s career the members were in awe of the other musicians around them.

“It was like, ‘Whoa, that other group sounds like that and we don’t.’ But then you see that you sound different and that’s your value, your identity,” Šipkēvics said. “And the sound Cosmos has… No other group in the world has it. And once you realize that, you feel much better.”

Their initial set-up was very academic, but with each new album and each new year came additional experience and the chance to participate in workshops and summits with other similar, more established groups to learn how they operated. Thus, Cosmos always had something new coming into the mix, aiding the group in its constant evolution. And though the guys still look up to the many groups they have worked with, they began to understand that they needed to go down their own road. They are who they are, and that’s the best thing.

Good-natured smirking aside, the three agree that their first album, Cosmos (2003), and the recently released Turbulence are very different.

“If you have the chance to get online and listen… to our first and then our most recent album… there are some pretty fundamental differences,” Šipkēvics said with a laugh. From then to now, one could say that there exist two very different groups. The change is that big.

But evolution works wonders. In the past five years the group has had its share of “burns” and has found itself in favorable and not-so-favorable situations. They’ve come out on the other side, understanding themselves as a collective and having found their place in the music world.

A new direction

Cosmos has taken what Šipkēvics, Strazdiņš and Ozols readily admit is a risk by putting together the group’s first all-original material album (minus the bonus track), but they are excited to finally get to their music. But why has it taken so long for this to happen? They’re not newbies and it’s been almost three years since the last album came out.

The external reason: People like a capella groups because of the cover versions they sing. Audiences enjoy hearing songs they already know being performed in a different style. The internal reason: The members of Cosmos hadn’t studied or trained to be composers and were therefore hesitant about entering an area in which they had no real professional knowledge. Although now music schools tend to offer a more comprehensive program (instruments included), academic schooling at the time was “interpretation vs. composition” (a capella based on the former). The two just weren’t mixed.

What they found they needed to do was to first free their minds of the theory and materials they had learned while in school. Only then were they able to reach a balance in which they were able to not only come up with their own ideas, but were able to technically realize them. In short, they discovered that they had what it took to do their own thing.

Putting together an album like Turbulence is a step the guys have dreamed of taking for some time and it’s given them a sense of freedom on stage they say would not have been otherwise possible. Their analogy was of Cosmos growing like a kid grows out of clothes. Once the clothes are worn and outgrown, it’s impossible to fit back into them. The group’s evolution has been and is a logical process that cannot be undone. There’s no sense in taking time to look back and criticize themselves on where and how they started because in getting “here”—to their own music—they’ve established their professional status, as well a solid fan base in Latvia and abroad. Based on the reviews, it seems as if the public more than accepts the change.

Turbulence was never the group’s original goal. At the beginning they were just six guys excited to be something. In the first years as a group, it was all about coordination, orientation and just trying to find out who and where they were, as well as where they could go, shouldn’t go and where they felt most comfortable. Turbulence came about because the group was heading toward writing and composing its own music, whatever that might be. Some material had been previously collected and it made them understand they needed to go down this new path. What Cosmos wanted from Cosmos, Ozols put simply, was “more self-insight.”

“We said, ‘Let’s go find ourselves,’ and we found something,” added Šipkēvics. “And I think that this direction truly is the right one.”

Turbulence is a collection of songs that is meant to create, well, a turbulence and agitation that will remove listeners from what they consider familiar. The guys admit to the lack of stylistic consistency, but also confidently explain that this was done on purpose.

“The (only) consistency is that there is no consistency,” Strazdiņš said.

“That’s why the album title is Turbulence,” Ozols added.

“The consistency is that it’s ours,” Šipkēvics said.

The album’s “bumpy ride” is made up of several subgenres (that’s what you get when six different personalities go musical soul-searching), including pop, something between heavy metal and Gregorian chant, folk, rock and easy listening. The subject matter of the songs covers relationships, life questions, ridiculousness, social issues and even gibberish.

Yes, gibberish. This has to do with the world music-sounding song “Vindo.” There have been discussions in online forums regarding the language of the song, with the most common guess being something close to Finnish. It turns out the lyrics are completely made up.

“I’m surprised no one has asked about the meaning behind the title, ‘Vindo’,” mused Ozols. When asked to provide the meaning, he grinned and said with mock secretiveness, “There isn’t one.”

So, are they satisfied with their choice to step outside of the a capella box? Or do they want to run back to the safety of cover versions? The answers were, respectively, a unanimous “very” and “absolutely not.”

Strazdiņš put in that this doesn’t mean the group will never sing another cover version, just that the songs they choose will go more hand-in-hand with their own compositions.

“They’ll have to really relate to the things we understand,” he said. Šipkēvics added that there will be more reason behind the specific covers. The group’s earlier choices of covers were songs Cosmos liked, but they were mostly a good point from which to start.

For example, the bonus track on Turbulence is a cover of Muse’s “Unintended.” The song has been in the Cosmos repertoire since last fall, but almost didn’t make it onto the album because it was someone else’s song. However, the group found that the track felt less like a cover version and more like a part of themselves. “Unintended” seemed like a natural addition.

As an alternative band, Muse’s songs are a bit different from the others Cosmos has previously covered. Šipkēvics, Strazdiņš and Ozols explained this by saying that they haven’t tried to stick to pop music covers all of the time (though it seems to have happened anyway) and that their thinking has changed drastically over the years, maybe even beginning to veer a bit more toward the alternative or indie scene. They’ve understood that they don’t want or necessarily need to be liked by everyone, just by those people who want to like them. It’s one of the greatest achievements for a band to be able to say that.

Cosmos obviously is open to trying new techniques. Turbulence testifies to that 100 percent. But the group does not necessarily aim for louder, higher or richer. The six members of Cosmos are past the stage of crazy “youthful maxims” or “mass mania” and trying to outdo or show off to each other.

“Aw, we’re just old,” Strazdiņš joked.

Having more or less 10 different types of music, Turbulence gives the group plenty to work from. The group is probably more curious than its fans to see what will happen on the next album. There is no clarity yet amongst them as to which direction they want to go. They remain, however, wholly unconcerned.

“If a moment comes when we understand, ‘Yes, this is it, it’s “us,” and we’re going to stick to this and this alone’… It would, in fact, be a bad thing,” Ozols said.

They aren’t trying to find an exact “something” that they’ll do for the rest of their lives. For the time being they are content with experimenting. True to this was the admission that the members of Cosmos have a characteristic inability to sit still for too long. If they run around with one style or form for an extended period of time, they get bored with it and need to start something else. Call it occupational Attention Deficit Disorder. The new material they’ve created gives their busy brains the options they need to see and explore where they can go next.

Ozols went on to stress how great it was that, after being in the group with the others for five years, the flow of ideas never fades or gets old. They have seen their moments of crises, but never anything long-term.

“We’ve never had to sit down… and say, ‘Guys, we have absolutely no ideas left. We’ve got nothing more to give. What now?’ There has always been something in the works, someone has always had something brewing,” he said.

For Cosmos, anything in daily life can become inspiration, anything can become a capella—from stomach aches to pineapples.

Where their music is concerned, the guys aren’t scarily intense on making sure everyone knows who they are. But why shouldn’t every household across the world absolutely have one of their albums?

“It wouldn’t really make sense..” Strazdiņš said with a shake of his head, but was cut off by Šipkēvics joking, “It would too make sense. Financially, at least.”

“But really,” Strazdiņš continued, “we want albums to be in the homes of people who want to listen to them. Not just on principle.”

Mass popularity has never been what the group has wanted.

The world isn’t looking for another Michael Jackson or Madonna-type mega-talent, they agreed. They’ve never wanted to simply be famous or to be the best-selling group in the world.

“It’s an entirely undesirable goal,” Šipkēvics said, adding that what they do desire is to find the “real” listeners, “someone who has an affinity for your ideas, your views of the world and what you do on stage. It’s great when your music finds the people who are waiting for the kind of music you make.”

Popularity is not something they think about on a daily basis. They want to feel good on stage and feel in sync with the music they present to the audience.

“We couldn’t do it any other way,” Šipkēvics said.

Cosmos in Canada

Cosmos has reached a good place. Concerts are now a time where they can feel free and relax, trust the other group members and know that everything will work out, Šipkēvics, Strazdiņš and Ozols agreed. This confidence will come in handy when the group travels to Canada, first to perform June 19 in the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, and then June 21 during the 2008 Ottawa Jazz Festival.

The last time they were in North America as a group was in 2006, when Cosmos performed for the opening of the new Latvian embassy in Washington D.C. Apparently Šipkēvics, Strazdiņš and Ozols don’t consider the experience as much of a concert and had considerably little to say about how it went.

“It’s hard to say…” began Šipkēvics, “but since then we haven’t been back.”

“Maybe that’s a hint,” Strazdiņš said with a smirk.

“Or,” Šipkēvics continued, “we did something right and just need to travel over there more often.”

They are aware Cosmos probably isn’t the most popular group among Latvians in North America, but they only look on the bright side. If this is the case, they are prepared to face an audience to whom, for the most part, Cosmos will be an entirely new act. They can take a breath and not worry about people expecting the “good, old hits,” as anything they present will end up being new.

“It’s always interesting to sing for audiences in places that are far from where you yourself are from because it’s interesting to see their reactions to what you do,” Šipkēvics said.

Manager Kristaps Šoriņš, the group’s “representative on planet Earth,” later commented that listening to the group’s albums is one thing, but seeing what it can do on stage is a completely different and unforgettable experience. Cosmos isn’t like other groups. There are essentially six lead singers and zero musical instruments. This ups the ante, as it’s not enough to just stand in one place, sound good, and be six more pretty faces on a platform. Each member of the group has to work to form a connection with the audience, making the experience a pleasure for all involved.

Toronto will be the group’s real first concert before a Latvian audience abroad, Ozols said. A quiet moment of quasi-stunned realization followed, finally broken by a tentative “Yes…” from Šipkēvics.

“That’s something we haven’t done before,” Ozols continued. “Because the majority will probably be people with Latvian ties or who are actually Latvians living in the United States or Canada—and that reaction… that’s a completely different group of people.”

“Right. So it will be interesting,” Šipkēvics added after another short pause.

“It’ll be interesting no matter what,” Strazdiņš said.

The group, Šipkēvics said, believes that if musicians are “real” on stage, then there should no issues of miscommunication or problems connecting with the audience.

“Anything could happen,” Strazdiņš said. “We’ll find out when we get there.” Minutes later he added,  “Let’s hope it’s not tomato season in Canada.”

The plan for Toronto is to follow a similar set list as used in concerts in Latvia, singing the songs included on Turbulence. As of now, the group is not ruling out the possibility of singing something from its older repertoire, which may be good news for those fans attending the concert to hear some Cosmos classics.

“We hope we’ll be heard,” Šipkēvics said, adding with a smile, “and then really liked.”

But what is an a capella group going to bring to a jazz festival like the one in Ottawa? Athough jazz music usually means smooth grooves and brass or reed instruments (and an egg shaker if you’re lucky), a jazz festival usually means any type of music that’s not mainstream. The Ottawa Jazz Festival will feature all kinds of acts, such as actual jazz musicians, folk or world musicians, and, of course, a capella musicians.

“We would be very happy to have people attend the concert,” Ozols said. “And I hope that those people who show up…”

“…will stay to the end,” Strazdiņš interjected.

“Well, I’m certain,” Ozols went on. “I know everything will work out and there’s no reason to be dramatic; everyone will be happy.” Then he broke into a grin. “When it comes down to it, I just really want to visit Canada (again) and will be all smiles on stage.”

“Even if there will be only two people in the audience,” Strazdiņš added, “and one of them is Andris’ (Sējāns) wife.”

Ozols continued by extending a welcome for everyone to attend the concerts, including the families they stayed with back in the day when they were travelling through North America as members of the Rīga Dome Boys’ Choir.

Then Šipkēvics, leaning in toward the microphone in a very official manner, said, “And to those listening, who remember us from that time… as little kids, and hosted us, we’d like to say we hope we didn’t cause any trouble and to let you know that we’re still around…”

“…and still play Gameboy,” Ozols added.

“…and are still in excellent condition,” Šipkēvics continued. “We are Cosmos… and are ready to give you the best we’re capable of.”


The a capella group Cosmos includes, from left to right, Andris Sējans, Reinis Sējāns, Juris Lisenko, Jānis Šipkēvics, Jānis Strazdiņš and Jānis Ozols. (Publicity photo)


The most recent album by Cosmos is Turbulence, released in April on the MICREC label.