IM­MI­GRANT SONG

India Today - - LEISURE - —Amit Gur­bax­ani

We in­ter­viewed jazz per­cus­sion­ist, com­poser and pro­ducer Sarathy Kor­war on the day of the elec­tion re­sults, the out­come of which makes his up­com­ing al­bum More Ar­riv­ing, in­spired by the rise of right-wing na­tion­al­ism all over the world, even more rel­e­vant. “It’s hap­pen­ing ev­ery­where, isn’t it?” he says over the phone from London. Kor­war, born in the US and raised in In­dia— in Ahmedabad, Chen­nai and Pune—has been living in the UK for the past decade. The 31-year-old be­gan work­ing on More Ar­riv­ing shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment of Brexit. The ti­tle, says Kor­war, is a tongue-in-cheek ref­er­ence to the imag­ined threat of im­mi­grants “swarm­ing the coun­try to steal its jobs and di­lute its cul­ture”.

He calls the al­bum an un­abashed “brown record” that brings to­gether “mul­ti­ple voices to drive home the fact that there’s no one idea of the South Asian story”. To this end, the tabla player and drum­mer en­listed, as con­trib­u­tors, rap­pers MC Mawali from Mum­bai and Delhi Sul­tanate and Prabh Deep from Delhi (who rhyme in Marathi, Hindi, English and Pun­jabi), Lon­don­based Bri­tish-Pak­istani poet Zia Ahmed and

Deepak Un­nikr­ish­nan from Abu Dhabi.

Like Day to Day, Kor­war’s 2016 de­but al­bum fea­tur­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with the African-In­dian com­mu­nity known as the Sid­dis, More Ar­riv­ing is a blend of jazz with In­dian clas­si­cal and elec­tronic mu­sic. But it’s more up­tempo and the com­po­si­tions are “de­fi­ant”. “There are dif­fer­ent ways to be an­gry,” says Kor­war. “Anger comes from this lack of be­ing able to con­trol your nar­ra­tive. The MCs and I are tak­ing con­trol and say­ing ‘This is who we are and what we’re go­ing through’.”

More Ar­riv­ing is Kor­war’s most political piece yet. It fol­lows up on the ideas in­tro­duced in My East Is Your West, a live record­ing with the UPAJ Col­lec­tive, an en­sem­ble of In­dian clas­si­cal and jazz mu­si­cians he formed to re­bal­ance the to­kenis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of In­dian mu­sic in classic Indo-jazz com­po­si­tions by the likes of Pharoah Sanders and John McLaugh­lin. “[Both al­bums are] about di­ver­si­fy­ing the nar­ra­tive around South Asian-ness in the UK es­pe­cially [and] the no­tion of what In­dian mu­sic is,” Kor­war says. “When you say In­dian mu­sic to some­body here, no one’s go­ing to think of an MC.”

RISHABAH SOOD

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