Toot Ard & Balkan Express [Opening Act]


Date: 23 May 2023
Venue: The Jazz Cafe
5 Parkway, London, NW1 7PG
Time: 19:00
Tickets: £24 (Standing)
£35 (seated)
Ages: 18+
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible (Contact venue for further details)

Event Info

Prepare to get your groove on for the new album launch party for the ‘quarter-tone pop’ gurus TootArd, made up of the inventive duo of brothers Hasan and Rami Nakhleh. The evening will be supported by the Balkan Express project led by Tasos Stamou and an electrified folk-pop DJ set by Yamen Mekdad.

Joining forces for the first time on a dancefloor, TootArd and Tasos Stamou take us on a voyage of sound. Their 70s era-infused electrified folk music transports us across time and space, from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to the shores of Greece. Reverberating across the Mediterranean, their sounds echo the remnants of a shared history and unlock new possibilities that no border can stand in the way of. 

TootArd has come a long way since releasing their first album in 2011. Beginning with their ‘reggae-infused mountain rock’, the duo have now become iconic for their disco homage to the Middle Eastern dancefloor scenes of the 80’s. Their latest album ‘Migrant Birds’, has recreated an iconic sound where retro funk meets hi-sheen contemporary, full of pop hooks and quarter-tone melodic lines which the Guardian called “a homage to 80s Beirut disco stacked with pitch-bending percussion and joyous, earworming synth melodies”.


Balkan Express is Tasos Stamou’s most recent music project, featuring compositions that hack South East Mediterranean tunes with a Synthwave attitude.

Influenced by retro recordings of electrified folk from Greece, Turkey, the Balkans and the Arab World, as well as Krautrock and New Wave, Stamou delivers a keyboard-driven time capsule infused with live traditional eastern Mediterranean instruments, and will collaborate with qanun soloist, Konstantinos Glynos, for this show.

DJ Set: Yamen Mekdad

Yamen will play a special set of electrified folk-pop from across the Mediterranean.

This event is co-produced in partnership with Marsm and The Jazz Cafe and is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.


TootArd (Arabic for Strawberries) is a “quarter-tone pop” band from the majestic mountainside village of Majdal Shams in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights. This inventive duo of brothers – Hasan and Rami Nakhleh – return with an infectious re-imagining of their sound. Jammed full of pop hooks and quarter-tone melodic lines, “Migrant Birds” unleashes a disco whirlwind that pays homage to the Middle Eastern dancefloor scenes of the 80’s. Retro funky meets hi- sheen contemporary.

Tasos Stamou

Tasos Stamou is a Greek exploratory music performing and recording artist, a music technologist and a tutor, a studio and radio producer.

After migrating to the U.K over a decade ago, his electroacoustic music started being inspired by the idea of nostalgia. His latest albums are combining electronic music with his South East Mediterranean heritage.

He has performed in Europe and in U.S.A in venues and festivals of innovative music (Bent Festival, Incumbate Festival, Supernormal Festival, Café OTO, Seanaps Festival, The Barbican, etc.). He has over 20 releases in independent music labels (Discrepant, Ikuisuus, Moving furniture etc.). He has collaborated with several veterans of exploratory music, such as Steve Beresford, Anna Homler, Mike Cooper, Savina Yannatou, Adam Bohman.

He is signed in Discrepant (UK), Ikuisuus (FL), Moving Furniture Records (NL) and more independent labels. He also runs “Future Folk”, a DJ and radio show in Movement Radio.

Yamen Mekdad

Yamen Mekdad is an artist, curator, filmmaker, DJ and radio host based in London. His practice is an experimentation in radical collaboration. His interests in field recording, archiving, radio and grassroots organizing led him to co-found Sawt of the Earth and Makkam, two London-based collectives.

He is a frequent contributor to a number of radio stations, including Root, Balami, NTS and AlHara Radio. Yamen is currently co-producer and curator of two endeavors: the Syrian Cassette Archives (a web platform dedicated to the preservation and research of the Syrian cassette era) and the Syrian Arts and Culture Festival.

Yamen has performed and collaborated with various artists/art institutions in the UK and internationally. He is also one of the founders of SADAA Sound Syndicate, and is currently releasing ‘Shapeshifting’, a documentary on the electronic music scene in Syria and the Syrian music diaspora, which will be released in May.