“… a band who veer extraordinarily from raw folk rock into delicious classical gloom, tender romanticism into 21st Century Baul tradition and several uncategorised points in between.” – fRoots
Khiyo are a London-based six-piece band playing radical, modern interpretations of Bengali heritage music. The band was formed in 2007 as a collaboration between Oliver and British-Bangladeshi vocalist Sohini Alam in order to explore new ways of presenting traditional Bengali music whilst preserving its essence. Their sound mixes powerful and expressive interpretations of the classics with dynamic and original arrangements that draw on South Asian and Western folk and classical traditions, rock, blues and jazz. Since their headlining appearance at the Purcell Room at Alchemy 2013, Khiyo have developed a reputation as a powerful live band. They released their self-titled debut album in 2014 and signed to ARC Music in 2015. They are currently working on their 2nd album for ARC, to be released in 2021.
In 2013, the band was at the centre of controversy in Bangladesh about the music video for their version of Rabindranath Tagore’s Amar Shonar Bangla, also the national anthem of Bangladesh. Against the backdrop of political turmoil caused by the verdicts on war criminals from Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence, Khiyo was accused of sedition for ‘distorting’ the anthem, sparking a controversy which drew in many of the biggest musical names in Bangladesh, as a result of which the song went viral amongst Bengalis worldwide. Despite the often furious nature of the debate, the controversy had a positive effect on the band's reputation, making them national news in Bangladesh and raising their profile in the UK and India.
“Top of the World” Album
Nominee for Best Group
"The debut from this young, London-based band celebrates every facet of Bengali music – from folk tunes to mystical Baul poetry via film themes, protest songs and even Bangladesh's national anthem. But although it's essentially an album of covers, they're delivered with a refreshing originality and a dynamic rock-influenced energy. A Top of the World in [Songlines] #111." -
“… a band who veer extraordinarily from raw folk rock into delicious classical gloom, tender romanticism into 21st Century Baul tradition and several uncategorised points in between. … What's striking about Khiyo is the way each seemingly disparate element is played with the same conviction. They are as much a visceral rock band as they are intrepid interpreters of traditional Bengali songs.”
“Musically this is an album that's not afraid to take chances and there's an unrestrained inventiveness and sense of adventure running through it that's mind-boggling in its execution, with flourishes of jazz, folk and rock shot through the traditional music that forms the backbone of this remarkable piece of work.”
“[A] Joyful celebration of everything Bengali. This promising debut … opens thrillingly with the electric-guitar-heavy 'Akashta Kanpchhilo Kyan' (Why Did the Sky Shudder?), a defiant Baul number that cites the call to prayer's inherent melody…. Khiyo's self-titled debut is a refreshing, original collection and is a fitting testament of Bengali identity.”
“A Bengali/British band from London with a really interesting sound. ”
“...imagine what would have happened if Pete Townshend had gone to India with the Beatles. Now invest in it. Get this CD.”
“A lovely fusion of sound”
“A very cool mix of London rhythms with traditional Bangladeshi songs and music. Here is one of those times where fusion really works!”
“Lucid and Evocative”
“If the new generation continues in this way, for those of us who are trying to preserve our cultural heritage, it will count as a thing of joy.”
Oliver Weeks – Guitars, Piano
Sohini Alam – Vocals
Ben Heartland – Upright & Electric Bass
David Ingamells – Drums
Hassan Mohyeddin – Tabla
Various – Violin, Viola, Cello
Other musicians on the Khiyo album include Derek Scurll, Danyal Dhondy, Soumik Datta, Rosalind Acton, Jane Gordon, Haider Rahman, Labik Kamal and Victoria Sutherland.