Compassion, Collaboration & Acceptance: How Music Collectives In South Asia Are Forging New Paths For Artistes
The creation and nurturing of a ‘community’ through music collectives have given rise to some of the most powerful social and cultural movements in South Asia. While some strived to construct a space for artists beyond the conventions of mainstream culture, others offered a safe space for dialogue on prevalent issues including discrimination, social injustice and cultural diversity. Such collectives have played a crucial role in organising artists from diverse backgrounds by offering a ground where varied artistic explorations could co-exist. We strike a conversation with some of the collectives in the region and understand in depth how their journey helped pave the way forward for a generation of artists.…
Image courtesy of Booka Booka
In 2018, popular British-Norwegian EDM artist Alan Walker graced Sri Lanka for a performance. The country’s foremost alternative electronic music label Jambutek Recordings went to Berlin for a showcase. Burgeoning homegrown band The Soul crowdfunded their way to a tour across the Maldives. International heavyweights like Sébestien Léger and Guy J were booked for parties on the island. For what it’s worth, even Irish boy band Boyzone brought their final concert tour to the country, choosing the occasion to debut an entirely new song. Yet, just 10 years before that, Sri Lanka was trying to end its nearly 26 year-long civil war.
Image of Sunara playing at Pettah Interchange in Colombo. Image credit Malaka MP
Old-timey incarnations of record labels — glitz, glamour, big money and big exploitation — are great to watch in movies, but their relevance has diminished over the past two decades. The music industry, internationally, is in a perpetual state of rebuild. And so new ways forward emerge from time to time.
In South Asia, the young, independent, non-film music communities — the ones with roots in traditional western sounds — remain on the fringes of the mainstream, if at all. They’ve grown almost as countercultures, gradually finding some footing in the culture space of the region over the past decade or so, through dedicated ground work by artists and industry-persons. In such an environment, record labels no longer play traditional roles. Instead, there’s a coexistence of multiple bespoke approaches. What we get, really, are collectives — organisations that, depending on their scale and the interests of the people involved — work within loosely defined capacities within the industry. …
Image credit: Royville Media
Fantasizing about a noise that could bludgeon an audience into submission, William Bennett from the band Whitehouse coined the term ‘power-electronics’ in the early 80s. The genre draws on static, screeching waves of feedback, analog synthesizers, warping sub-bass pulses and the high-frequency clamor of screamed vocals. Mostly harnessed through deep meditative improvisation, you could compare the process to spilling ink to see where it lands or furthermore setting the easel itself on fire.
Berlin Through The Eyes Of Nigel Perera: The People I Met Have Made A Huge Impact On My Views About Music & Life
“Music has always been my way of connecting with people. I often feel the most comfortable getting to know someone just by playing, listening to or making music with them. My first exposure to music as a child came from my parents. My school friends and I listened to Sinhalese pop music. Even though the local pop scene is a far cry from what I’m into now, I often revisit those tracks. I feel they have a certain quality which draws me to them even now. Not the songs as such rather certain details or moods that resonate with me, all these years later. I’ve gone through a lot of phases throughout my life — always trying to learn new things — but music is the only thing that has really stuck with me,” says Nigel Perera, a Colombo-based producer, DJ and visual artist whose influences draw from a broad range of funk, jazz, hip-hop and varied sub genres of electronic music.
This Friday will see the Border Movement Lounge host it’s ninth edition in Colombo in the Goethe-Institit’s cosy courtyard.
Many years ago, Nigel Perera used to be a mobile DJ in Negombo, Sri Lanka. He’d play events such as weddings or birthday parties. “I used to listen to the golden pop hits from the 80s back in the day; the stuff on the radio,” he says. He played at a pub in Negombo where he’d DJ commercial music, old classic rock, the works. He would push himself to find that balance between what kind of music worked for the audiences there and what gave him satisfaction. …
“I think it all depends on what you want to express through your art,” says Berlin-based French DJ and producer David Monnin as he explains why the identity of a being has both creative and an anti-creative influence in the process of making art. “You can’t ever completely dissolve your identity. Most of us have grown up within a social and cultural universe that we can’t really escape. Even if you manage to dissolve it for a short moment, it will always come back and leave a mark on your work.”
Image credit: Malaka MP
On 3 December 2017, over 100 people gathered at the Goethe-Institut in Colombo, Sri Lanka to bear witness to a distinctive, idiosyncratic performance: Sub_Sequence where 5 individuals performed a live, collaborative audio-visual set. …