"Ganovim-loshn" ("thieves' language") was the Yiddish sung in the inter-war underworld of Warsaw, Odessa and Istanbul. These are no ordinary folk songs. There is much violence, and lament to them... the extremes of the jewish wise-guy. Along with their Yiddish gangster repertoire, Orkestar Kriminal has absorbed the Rebetika Mortika hash den anthems of the 1930s Greek underground. They can also be found performing in Pashto, Spanish, Bosnian, Hindi, Polish, or whatever other tongue might attract the multilingual stylings of front-woman Giselle Claudia Webber. So long as the tune is catchy and a little shady, they'll give it their best shot.


Orkestar Kriminal was formed 3 days before Pop Montréal 2012, so that Gigi French's former orchestra could scam free passes to the festival. Gutsy and adventurous, these improv performers do inspired renditions of slum-based "world music" from a dangerously forgotten era. With Christos Smirnios (Swamp Ward Orchestra) on drums, Tyler Parent (Old Time Honey) on upright bass, Lisa Gamble (Gambletron) on musical saw and baglama, Giselle Claudia Webber (Gigi French) on voice, Etienne Barry (Barry Paquin Roberge) on keys, Anna Frances Meyer (Les Deuxluxes) on flute, piccolo and back-vocals, Julian Selody (Lemon Bucket Orchestra) on saxophone, Sam Minevich (Yellow Jacket Avenger) on guitar and bouzouki, Li Kouri (LiKouri) on accordion, Brigitte Dajczer (Briga) on fiddle, Eli Camilo (Dumai Dunai) on trumpet/trombone, and Margaret Diane Donavan (Domaći Trubači) on trombone, Orkestar Kriminal is a gang of punks singing the songs of a much older gang of punks. The bittersweet melodies they are steeped-in are delightfully infectious, so for Orkestar Kriminal, there is no turning back. Drenched in expression, celebrated and improvised, this is "cabaret noir" at it's finest!


Orkestar Kriminal's "Tummel" was released in 2015, attracting a plethora of media attention, and winning a GAMIQ for "Roots Album of the Year". In 2018, their second album "Ryobra" hit the #1 spot on the Canadian “National International” college radio charts. After continuous touring and a multitude of festival performances, the biggest criminal punks in world music released their vinyl full-length: "Razlomanye Ryobra", with Producer Josh Dolgin, in 2020. They are currently working on their first ever all-originals album, "Originali", with Grammy award winning Producer-Engineer: Mark Lawson.