A chat with XANI, the celebrated violinist who’s worked with Tim Rogers, Jens Lekman and more

A chat with XANI, the celebrated violinist who’s worked with Tim Rogers, Jens Lekman and more

Image by Michelle Grace Hunder.
Words by Tom Parker

XANI will perform as part of The Boite’s ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ live stream series.

In wake of the current pandemic, Victoria’s iconic multicultural music organisation The Boite made a swift and concerted adjustment to transition things digitally.

As part of their ongoing ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ campaign, the organisation has reimagined their regular concerts in a live streamed format, and now punters can watch the gigs they were originally attending online.

More than a dozen events have already taken place and The Boite won’t be slowing down until restrictions ease.

On Wednesday June 17, revered local artist Xani Kolac, aka XANI, will take to your screens for Song Appetit, an event which puts a creative spin on the classic ‘dinner and show’ format.

Kolac could be best described as a music chameleon who wanders from stage to stage in music and theatre realms, captivating audiences with her virtuosity on the violin and her penchant for improvisation – for no two Kolac performances are the same.

Kolac will be launching her new single, ‘Who Would’ve Thought’, as part of Wednesday’s performance, a track that carries a profound narrative.

“I wrote it [‘Who Would’ve Thought’] when my dad went into hospital to have heart surgery. It was the first time our family had gone into this kind of realm of ‘someone’s sick and this is serious’, so I wrote this song to help my family through it,” Kolac says.

“Fast forward to last year – we had this family trauma that led to me not being able to get support from my family any more because of the implosion that happened … so I decided to reclaim that song for myself because I needed the support in that time. So this song is now being rewritten to help myself through it.”

The song was originally written in 2014 as a demo and has also been performed live. It stands as a poignant first slice of Kolac’s forthcoming album set to arrive later this year.

So how will Wednesday’s show be formatted? Well, it will be multifaceted to say the least.

“The idea [of Song Appetit] is you get the chance to really know artists more intimately and the great thing about the live streaming is that we’re in our own homes [so] you can get to really know us and we get to come up with a recipe that we want our audience to cook before the show,” Kolac says. “I’ll cook too so we can sit down, they can be on their couch eating this meal or at the table and then [we] have a performance.

“I’m bringing one of my bandmembers into this live stream, Jacinta Caruana on vocals, she’s doing backing vocals with me. So we will be performing predominantly music from the new album because I want to talk about that … having the chance to share stories about each of the songs before it comes out and giving people a chance to really get to know the artist behind the music.”

Before she became a revered artist that’s collaborated with the likes of Tim Rogers, Jens Lekman, Clare Bowditch and Kate Ceberano, and appeared on RocKwiz and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Kolac has had a longstanding connection with The Boite – one that revolutionised her creative thinking.

“My mum would take me to see different violinists doing Hungarian Gypsy violin music … that was really starting to open my eyes to different styles of contemporary music on violin,” Kolac says.

“I had performed at The Boite a couple of times with different artists but I guess the thing that led to this concert is earlier this year when The Boite announced their ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ series. It was such a welcoming thing because within a week I was getting phone calls for all my gigs – I lost about 80 shows for the rest of the year,” Kolac continues.

“And when Eyal [Chipkiewicz, The Boite’s Managing Director] rang I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, here’s another one that’s going to be cancelled’, and he told me about ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ … it was a creative and courageous approach and I really appreciated it.”

Some of the ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ live streamed events to have already taken place include a performance from dynamic jazz group East of West, a collaboration between Melbourne Amplified Strings (a group that Kolac is a member of) and renowned sitar player Sarita McHarg as well as three acoustic luminaries combining – the likes of Nick Charles, Leigh Sloggett and Japan’s Chuei Yoshikawa came together on May 7.

Xani Kolac performs for The Boite’s live stream series on Wednesday June 17. The event will coincide with Song Appetit, a creative take on the classic ‘dinner and show’ format. Grab tickets for the event here and find out more about ‘Adapt, Not Cancel’ here.

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