First In­dian artist at Coachella desert fes­ti­val high­lights rise of elec­tron­ica

The China Post - - ARTS - BY SHAUN TAN­DON

Once an af­ter­thought for many in­ter­na­tional artists, In­dia has quickly emerged as a hot­bed for elec­tronic dance mu­sic — and, in a sign of its growth, the first In­dian act has played the in­flu­en­tial Coachella fes­ti­val.

The duo B. R. E. E. D, which had its start in Mumbai and Goa, put on an en­er­getic set at the fes­ti­val that closed Sun­day in the Cal­i­for­nia desert with a style driven by a heavy rhythm that the band calls “fu­ture bass elec­tronic.”

Away from the larger stages that show­case some of the world’s most fa­mous bands, B. R. E. E. D played the more niche Do Lab known for pro­mot­ing ris­ing elec­tronic artists. In an open en­clo­sure de­signed like a whale car­cass, B. R. E. E. D put on fast-paced num­bers with hints of trap mu­sic as dancers sprayed from flo­ral- adorned wa­ter guns into the sweaty and sun­burned crowd.

If not for DJ Ritesh D’Souza’s shout- out to an In­dian friend, it is un­likely that most at the show rec­og­nized the duo’s ori­gin. But B. R. E. E. D ex­per­i­ments with In­dian form on its lat­est al­bum “Bi­nate,” whose tracks in­clude “Tears” led by the mourn­ful vi­o­lin of Manoj Ge­orge.

B. R. E. E. D has also set elec­tron­ica to a nadaswaram, a south In­dian wind in­stru­ment, with D’Souza say­ing that the band wanted to “get a very ex­otic in­stru­ment, that peo­ple are not us­ing ac­tu­ally, into our niche.”

Band­mate Tara Mae, a clas­si­cally trained U. S. pi­anist who met D’Souza while living in Mumbai, said the sound “has fu­tur­is­tic el­e­ments. It’s very, what we call, for­ward- push­ing.”

The duo moved to Los An­ge­les in late 2012, hop­ing to ex­pand its reach af­ter be­com­ing reg­u­lars in the In­dian scene.

“We be­came big fish in a small pond, kind of, do­ing the same clubs with the same peo­ple,” D’Souza told AFP.

In­ter­con­nected Mu­sic World

Goa, the west­ern In­dian state, was an early hub of elec­tronic mu­sic as West­ern hip­pies flocked to its beaches and de­vel­oped a style of trance mu­sic known for its free- flow­ing, psy­che­delic am­bi­ence.

But In­dia in re­cent years has seen a boom in both home­grown and in­ter­na­tional elec­tronic dance mu­sic. The Sun­burn Fes­ti­val opened in Goa in 2007, fol­lowed more re­cently by the VH1 Su­per­sonic fes­ti­val and oth­ers.

Some of the world’s best­known DJs such as David Guetta, Avicii, Steve Aoki and Tiesto now count In­dia among their des­ti­na­tions on tours.

D’Souza and Mae at­trib­uted the growth in large part to mu­sic stream­ing ser­vices, an equal­izer for In­dian young peo­ple who can now in­stantly lis­ten to tracks from around the world whereas once they were at the mercy of record stores that catered mostly to fans of Bol­ly­wood mu­sic.

“For the last four or five years, there’s been a mas­sive growth in the elec­tronic cir­cuit in In­dia,” D’Souza said.

Mae added that main­stream DJs dom­i­nated the In­dian mar­ket but she no­ticed dur­ing her time in the coun­try a spike in in­ter­est in lesser- known artists.

“It’s kind of sur­pris­ing be­cause you don’t think they would know about th­ese artists, but they do, and they’re look­ing into it more,” she said.

Since mov­ing to Los An­ge­les, B. R. E. E. D has be­come in­volved in nu­mer­ous remixes and the duo hopes to move in more ex­per­i­men­tal di­rec­tions.

Mae would like even­tu­ally to work with an orches­tra, while D’Souza is ea­ger for more col­lab­o­ra­tions on In­dian mu­sic, par­tic­u­larly from the coun­try’s south.

“A lot of peo­ple in the West think that bhangra is the only thing in In­dia,” he said, re­fer­ring to the dance pop from the north­ern state of Pun­jab. “They don’t know that ev­ery state has some­thing to of­fer.”

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