Across the Border: Zahed Sultan

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“I just want to do something that is a reflection of my experiences having lived in India, in the UK, in the US, in Kuwait, without distancing myself from my culture, but at the same time taking the origins of India and Kuwait and amalgamating them into a format that is the interpretation of who I am.”

I met with Zahed Sultan at the Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp in Dubai earlier this year.

This part-Indian residing in Kuwait, had a shared inclination towards audio-visual experiential devices within live music performances.

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We got chatting about why he’s visiting India this festival season:

Tell us about your live sets:

My sets are audio visual sets. I use an army of equipment that allows me to deconstruct all of the material that I’ve created into clips/parts samples etc. Then I kinda regurgitate/recycle them into a whole new live performance.

So what you hear on the record is not the same as what you hear on stage- it’s a completely different live experience which adds some value.

For the video I chop up the pieces of my visual content and use a visual sampler that allows me to tell a story visually along with the music.

The idea is experimenting with these two mediums, to find a way to have the best synergy between them.

How do your artistic experiences in the Arab world impact your performances?

I work in social development in Kuwait. My organisation: En.V, promotes social responsibility in the Arab world. It’s involved in creating programmes in education, culture and the environment. We use lots of artistic platforms to reach out to people to get them to be more socially conscious.

Once upon a time I was a DJ, but now my main focus is on performing live. I was always aspiring to put up a sensory/experiential show for the audience. It has to be something that’s happening organically, and

I need to take the audience along for the journey through this evolution.

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You’ve been touring a fair bit this year. Biggest learnings?

When you go to different regions, it’s really important to read audience reactions.

It’s so different when you’re DJing, because if you look at the crowd and they don’t like your song, you can change it, and change the direction.
Whereas if you’ve got a live set planned out, that’s your live set!

You have to do your thing and believe in yourself on stage. I always look for that 10% of the audience who actually understand and are listening to what you’re trying to do, and then hope for a domino effect from there.

What are you expecting to witness in India this (Festival)season?

India was the last stop on my list for this year. It never occurred to me that there was this huge festival circuit in India, outside of the Goa trance scene which is well known with regards to electronic music.

I’m going to try to absorb the environment on two levels: To get to meet the people making these kinds of sounds and this new movement a reality, and also observing how crowds respond to different artists and sounds within a festival environment in India.

Listen to Zahed Sultan here:

written by Sanaya Ardeshir

NEWS - 06. January 2014   ARTIST - Zahed Sultan

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