Photo Credit: Vemund Brune Hareide


Qwanqwa (an Amharic word meaning ‘language’) is an international project based in Addis Ababa. At the helm are Kaethe Hostetter on five-string electric violin and Mesele Asmamaw on electric krar. Kaethe was a founding member of Boston’s accomplished exponents of Ethiopian sounds, Debo Band. Mesele has been active as a composer and arranger in Ethiopia for over twenty years, releasing original albums and touring in Africa and Europe, performing traditional music as well as participating in projects with Dutch cross-border experimentalists The Ex and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. In Qwanqwa, he skilfully enhances his krar with electronic effects, creating heavy, roots-based psychedelic textures which roll and tumble with the gracefully gritty sounds of electric violin and masenqo (one-string bowed lute), powered along by an uncompromisingly funky rhythm section of bass krar and kebero drums. This language is universal.

Mesele Asmamaw Kebede - electric krar, vocals
Endres Hassen Ahmed - masinko
Anteneh Teklemariam Barago - bass krar
Misale Legesse Muleta - drums
Kaethe Hostetter - electric 5-string violin