The Mummers are a band based in the English seaside town of Brighton, centred around London-born singer-songwriter Raissa Khan-Panni. They take their name 'Mummers' from the medieval performing troupes who would go from door-to-door wearing masks and costumes, staging plays in rhyme and song and mime. Khan-Panni was once better known as Raissa, a solo artist that revealed a jumble of influences; a mix of Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Englishness.
Khan-Panni was once better known as Raissa, a solo artist that revealed a jumble of influences; a mix of Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Englishness. She was raised in the South London district of Tulse Hill, immersed first as a child in classical music, and later discovered Ricki Lee Jones and Prince. Raissa learned oboe, taught herself to sing, spent her school-days busking in Leicester Square and later all over Europe, before heading back to these shores to study music at Bristol.
Her solo career began not long afterwards, and she enjoyed critical acclaim across the media spectrum, most notably with the album Believer and the single How Long Do I Get. Despite the acclaim Khan-Panni remembers it as a period of some uncertainty.
By 2001, the solo projects were winding down and she returned to work, waitressing fulltime in a Brixton restaurant. During this time she began writing lyrics documenting this period of her life keeping the faith that she would one day leave waiting tables to return to music, She was inspired by the enormity of sound in Rufus Wainwright's work, and by the spacey-ness of the Flaming Lips.
In 2005, she received through the post a track written around her vocals, and Raissa found her new collaborator - orchestral composer Mark Horwood, who was living on the South Coast in a treehouse just outside Brighton. They gathered a cast of 20 musicians from around Brighton and recorded the whole album in the treehouse with producer Paul Sandrone.
The Mummers sound is described as an orchestral urban fairground and includes as inspiration nightbuses, negro spirituals, the Owl and the Pussycat, the Wings of Desire, orange trees, early morning walks through London and the fairytale tapes she would listen to at bedtime every night as a child, set to the sound of a carnival, a marching band and a string quartet.
Khan-Panni has described The Mummers as musical adaptations of real life events, and fairytale versions of the mundane.