Welcome to the 21st Century. One day, you’ve got no radio, and you’re dubbing music onto cassettes – if you’re rich. The next, you’re part of a wired global music phenomenon dancing to avant-garde electronic noises made by machines – and you’re learning how to make those sounds yourself for an audience back on the other side of the planet. (Hey, I’m just a Kentucky boy. I find this all futuristic, too.)
Yet it may be the ones in denial about this phenomenon are some of us who have been living in the big cities – New York, Berlin, LA, London. The good news is, everyone is about to tune into sounds that have traveled trans-continental distances. And in that exchange, the music will change. Sometimes it’s traveling abroad that makes us discover the sound of where we came from; sometimes it’s hearing something from abroad that reveals some side of us we didn’t know – when the foreign feels personal.
VICE/Thump did a quick film with BOSE. It’s a bit of a tease to those of us who would want to get to know the music better, like watching an advertisement about the topic. But there are some gems in there. Let’s consider it the trailer to a conversation I hope we have on CDM.
And one of these quotes, while coming from the Indian experience, will no doubt sound familiar to everyone reading this site – that first time you heard new sounds.
“When I heard Prodigy, for example, I was, like, what are these guys on? I mean, this is insane. How can you make these sounds? It was just like music from another planet. It was crazy. I was like, that’s what we need to do here.”
Yep. That’s the feeling.
It’s not just “EDM” (if any of us can work out what EDM even is). Also out this month is a film (this one, entirely produced by an Indian crew) covering “India’s only bass heavy electronic music festival.” That’s really running the gamut, too, from dubstep to drum and bass. And Bass Camp Festival draws artists from the UK as well as locally. Watch:
Of course, where CDM comes in is, I think a lot of people want to make what they hear. Arjun Vagale, who’s featured in this film, has also founded the I Love Music Academy, a comprehensive school for audio and music production skills (and DJing – you can even hear students mixing on MixCloud at their site). That school in turn feeds certified programs at places like California’s Pyramind. (I’m curious whether, for instance, Ableton yet has a number of certified trainers in India.)
For more in-depth coverage (and not just slick shots of nondescript streets somewhere in India), The Bangin Beats has an enlightening discussion with Vagale:
The folks VICE has chosen here do feed the rest of the international music scene. A lot of what you hear could pass for techno from somewhere like Berlin, and indeed these folks have played here. On the other hand, there are two things to watch. One: it may not be that everyone picks up and moves to the capital of Germany just to participate in the scene; it’s relevant that these are artists who have remained in India and play to both significant audiences there and on international tours. Two, I would imagine we’ll also see compelling music that doesn’t translate. As I’m generally inspired by music regardless of its commercial value, I’d love to hear more of what has been lost in translation, hasn’t gotten a booking agency (like India’s excellent UnMute), and requires more active listening.
So, Indian readers, and those who know Indian music, we’d love to know what you think.
We can in the meanwhile listen to sounds from some of the artists featured in this film.
Arjun Vagale is making simply world-class techno, for both his audience at home and worldwide, and that’s earned him deals with Bedrock, Tronic and, most recently/notably, Sci+Tec. And he’s insanely prolific:
It’d be interesting to compare experiences; Vagale and I were born in the same year in literally different hemispheres.
Kris Correya is notable for his role in Bay Beat Collective, a key conduit for bass much in India (and likewise making ripples here in Germany, too, which says something). I failed at locating much from Kris Correya online, but here’s a nice set:
BBC goes more in the bass-heavy direction, including some good old-school stuff:
Nucleya here may be the most interesting, though, as there’s an Indian musical identity threaded through the music. That’s not to say I expect all producers in India to involve that in their identity any more than I’d assume people want me adding Bluegrass licks to my Berlin after-hours set. (Scary. Interesting, but scary. Though I do actually love Bluegrass.) But I think all of us are hungry for new sounds, not only replicas of what we’re already hearing – which can be an unfortunate side of the wonderful abundance of training in music technology available now.
Well, it starts in India. Then it goes… some other places. Some surprising places. I won’t ruin the surprise.
Those are just the artists spotlighted by VICE, and I wouldn’t think of relegating CDM’s coverage of one of the world’s most populous countries to a single post. But there’s already some stimulating music to hear just pulling apart this VICE feature.
Now, who wants to sponsor us to fly to India?