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 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 – Ériver Hijano
“Artists have the ability to design perception. They can find ways to convey tough subject matter in a tolerable manner. As artists, we can create spaces and platforms where people feel safe and enabled to engage in critical conversations without having the pressure of being assigned a certain societal, political or ideological expectation. And, we can be infinitely creative in how we enable this dialogue. It does not always have to be a literal dialogue using language. For, language itself can sometimes become a mode of exclusion” says Ramsha Shakeel — an interdisciplinary artist and experimental musician from Pakistan. In her explorations, one often discovers the romance of dimensions where individual archetypes in both sound and art coalesce to create aural interactions that define human emotion.
In a way, Karachi is an anomaly. The seamless integration of conservative with unconventional defines its creative musical expression. But within its structured contours, lie esoteric nuances that transcend traditional norms of musicality. Coaxing a transcultural amalgam of dialogues within the experimental space, the city’s tryst with underground continues to celebrate the synthesis of old and new in the realm of ‘sound art’. …
Image Credit: Humayun M
Islamabad likes to run slow. But having grown up in this city, musician Asfandyar Khan, who is also the artist behind electronic moniker TMPST, didn’t quite register the pace. This changed when he moved to Karachi in 2015. He found the city aligned with his own pace a lot more; perhaps this change is what made its way into TMPST’s upcoming release, ‘Unravel’.
boxout.fm may have launched under a year ago, but it feels like India’s first-ever independent
online community radio station has been around for much longer. Through various initiatives
(boxoutwednesdays, boxoutsessions, theplug.news) outside of the radio station, they’re
challenging the idea of what they truly are and can be; this could not be truer with their boundary-pushing initiative ‘Boxout in Transit’.
In 2016 we launched a new residency initiative called BMR to create meaningful and relevant opportunities for music makers from South Asia and Germany. Over the course of 2016 and 2017 BMR invited 6 South Asian artists to Berlin for 2 months and have hosted 3 Berlin based artists in South Asian cities.
Image courtesy: Consolidate
Independent record labels and DIY culture have made it possible for many artists across the globe to get their music to a wide section of listeners. While it may not necessarily be a profit making venture at first, there is something hugely rewarding and futuristic about the ability to nurture fresh talent without jeopordising creative freedom; a huge contrast to the former model where big record labels called the shots. There are a number of small and active record labels all over South Asia who are supporting artists and consistently releasing good music. We compiled a list of labels based in South Asia that reflect the beauty of a DIY approach.
Image credit: Humayun M
“I have an update for you. My hard drive is dead and I have lost the entire album. I have backups from April but am not sure what is backed up and how much progress is backed up. So yeah my life sucks.”