Robin
Stuart
Murat
Daniel
Paris
Chris

Robin Zirwanda

Founder, Front Man and Songwriter

Robin was born in Iraq, where his people, the Assyrians, have lived for 7000 years. He migrated to Australia alone at age 17, with a suitase, a guitar and not a word of English. Eventually his family joined him, and they settled in the remote Arnhem Land (NT) town of Nhulunbuy, where the bauxite mine offered plenty of work. Robin assimilated quickly into the local culture, joining a band and forming a close bond with the indigenous community, gaining an invaluable insight into another ancient culture.

When he moved back to Sydney he worked as a percussionist initially in the cabaret scene, then with original bands on the pub circuit. Then in the early nineties, the rising profile of World Music inspired Robin to start writing his own songs in his native Assyrian Neo-Aramaic language, a language that linguists predict will be extinct within two generations. But although he wrote lyrics in Assyrian, Robin’s music was heavily influenced by the styles he’d been performing as a percussionist, and this became the foundation for Azadoota.

Career Timeline

  • 2016

    Performance Highlight: Woodford Folk Festival

    "Dance rock outfit Azadoota performed a fast-paced set of songs from the Middle East that danced the night away with a wonderful set of sounds from a mystic era." - AU Review

  • 2015

    Music video & single release: "Lishana (Jesus Spoke My Language)"

    Lishana is an upbeat rallying cry for young Assyrians to preserve their ancient language.

  • 2014

    Performance highlight: WOMADelaide

    "If one were to pick a single act that sums up the Womad spirit, it would probably be the Australian Iraqi party band Azadoota." - The Guardian

  • 2012

    Album release "Beyond Bridges"

    "Infectious, foot-tapping, hand-clapping, body-whirling slice of exotic rhythms" - The Australian

  • 2008

    Album realease: Planetarian

    "A tight, tasty smorgasbord of locally produced worldbeat." - Limelight

  • 1996

    Azadoota is formed

    Azadoota's first gig was in Byron Bay. They bought a 2nd hand van on Parramatta Rd the day before the gig, drove it to Byron, then slept in it after the gig because there was no affordable accommodation.

  • 1989-1995

    Latin Fire and Childbride days

    Worked for six years as percussionist with pop-rock trio Floyd Vincent and the Childbrides and crazy Latin outfit Latin Fire. Robin developed his signature kit featuring congas, floor tom and kick drum played standing up.

  • 1986

    Don McLean Australian Tour

    Robin was hired as Don McLean's percussionist for a 3-month Australian tour. He describes how during that tour, while enjoying lobster and caviar backstage, he asked Don McLean what it took to achieve such a high level of success in the music industry. Don's answer? “You have to gamble on yourself, Robin”.

  • 1973-1976

    Five Star Band - Gove NT

    The hottest band to come out of Nhulunbuy, until Yothu Yindi.

  • 1970

    The Vikings - Kuwait

    An unusual choice of band name for a band of Assyrians working in Kuwait, but maybe they were flying under the radar.

Stuart Vandegraaff

Saxophone

An amazing multi-instrumentalist, performer and composer, Stuart specialises in Brazilian and Middle-Eastern music. He fronts the oriental fusion ensemble Masha's Legacy.

Career Timeline

  • 2014

    Performance highlight: Woodford Folk Festival

    "Dance rock outfit Azadoota performed a fast-paced set of songs from the Middle East that danced the night away with a wonderful set of sounds from a mystic era." - AU Review

  • 2016

    Joins Azadoota

Murat Kucukarslan

Bass Guitar

Relocating to Sydney from Turkey in 2016, Murat brings a wealth of experience in world fusion and a wonderful musical sensitivity.

Career Timeline

  • 2016

    Performance highlight: Woodford Folk Festival

    "Dance rock outfit Azadoota performed a fast-paced set of songs from the Middle East that danced the night away with a wonderful set of sounds from a mystic era." - AU Review

  • 2016

    Joins Azadoota

Daniel Holmes

Guitar

Dan is known for his compelling stage presence and positve demeanour. Off stage Dan is studying political journalism.

Career Timeline

  • 2016

    Performance highlight: Woodford Folk Festival

    "Dance rock outfit Azadoota performed a fast-paced set of songs from the Middle East that danced the night away with a wonderful set of sounds from a mystic era." - AU Review

  • 2015

    Performance highlight: Candelo Village Festival

    "An unexpected delight at the Candelo Village Festival was Frank Yamma, delivering his powerful songs in Pitjantjatjara and English, joined on stage by Azadoota, bringing their funky, Cuban, Middle Eastern influence." - ABC Bega

  • 2015

    Performance highlight: Illawarra Folk Festival

Paris Freed

Backing Vocals

Paris first saw Azadoota when the band performed at her 3rd birthday party. She has been studying singing for several years, and is currently completing Year 12.

Career Timeline

  • 2016

    Performance highlight: Woodford Folk Festival

    "Dance rock outfit Azadoota performed a fast-paced set of songs from the Middle East that danced the night away with a wonderful set of sounds from a mystic era." - AU Review

  • 2016

    Performance highlight: Shir Madness

  • 2015

    Single recording: "Lishana (Jesus Spoke My Language)"

Chris Fields

Drums

Chris is a 3rd generation drummer and percussionist originally from the U.S.A.

Career Timeline

  • 2014

    Performance highlight: WOMADelaide

    "If one were to pick a single act that sums up the Womad spirit, it would probably be the Australian Iraqi party band Azadoota." - The Guardian