No South Asian Fusion website would be complete without mentioning the great that launched it all. DJ Rekha is the pioneer who started Basement Bhangra and Mutiny. She is currently the most respected name in South Asian sounds. She was worked with a wide diaspora of musicians; from Wyclef to Priyanka Chopra - all the while doing informational panels, dj gigs and interviews all over the world. She's also been doing a podcast, since 2011, on BTR Today. Their description of her is spot on - so I have shared it here wholesale!

Bhangra and Beyond is a weekly music show hosted by DJ Rekha, a cultural instigator, recognized worldwide for being one of the first DJs to merge classic Bhangra sounds into the language of contemporary electronic dance music. The first 40 minutes of the show is comprised of Bhangra tracks, both fast and slow, classic and new. The style of Bhangra -- which is a form of Punjabi folk music and dance coming from the region divided by India and Pakistan known as Punjab -- is contemporary and produced for a global dance floor. Rekha shares her deep knowledge and personal connections of many of the artists featured in this segment. After a break, the remaining 20 minutes provides the listener with a deep dive into the analogue and digital creations of a DJ who has spun numerous genres in venues across the globe. Featuring South Asian-leaning bass, this set sometimes finds itself showcasing everything from A Tribe Called Red (mistaken Indian identity intended) to Diasporic Rapper over folk music to dubstep renditions of Sub-Continental Tropical Bass.

She recently did an extensive interview for Butter Chicken Podcast that pretty much covers her music career from the beginning to now. I would highly recommend everyone listen to that. 

Here we speak on a few "follow up" questions about her history and what's in store for the future - hope you enjoy.

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This was a short and sweet email questionnaire that Niraj Chag answered for the AV readers to enjoy.

AV: Tell me about your history with Outcaste?
NC: I signed to Outcaste records when I first moved to London (from Southampton), around 1997. I had been experimenting with fusing sounds for quite a few years and was delighted to learn that there was a whole 'Asian fusion' scene in London. I worked with Outcaste records till 2001 and then we parted company. It was a mutual decision as I wanted to move more into composition work for TV, theatre and dance and Outcaste records were also changing their musical direction.

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Karsh Kale speaks to AsianVibrations.com about this newest album Broken English. He also drops hints on what's in the pipeline for him and how he feels about the state of music at large. Hope you enjoy.

Note: The words in [ ] are added by me to clarify the point that I felt Karsh was trying to make.

AV: So how did broken english came about? What were you trying to do with the album.

KK: After putting out Liberation, the next thing I wanted to do was something more universal. Encompassing a universal language. With the concept of broken english being the language that is spoken all over the world.

AV: Ah I see! Ok.  I was wondering what you were trying to say there. I was wondering if you were referencing to the broken english that all our parents speak.  

KK: It was partly a reference to that. [But mainly I wanted to reference the language spoken all over the world.]

AV: I felt, when listening to the album, that you departed from what you had done in the previous albums. How much of that was an attempt to not do a South Asian Fusion album?

KK:I don’t think I was really attempting to not do something. I was [more trying to do something and] not be concerned with what I had done before.   You know, right after that I worked on an album with Anoushka Shankar in India.

AV:You are talking about Rise?

KK:No no. Not Rise. I just came back yesterday from India where we had been working on a new album which is a collaboration between the two of us.  So we had been working with a whole bunch of new musicians. On one hand this work [from her perspective] is more of a western record and other hand [from my perspective] it is more of an Indian record because we both were pushing each other in a different direction. But that being said, then I am also doing a Kollective compilation which is much more about underground music. I also want to do a live cd with the Realize band.  So I am never thinking in terms of “what am I supposed to be doing” [or not doing]. I do what I feel like I need to do - at the time.

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On his first-ever visit to NYC I got to sit down with TJ Rehmi and chat about his visit and the music as he sees it. Enjoy!

AV: What's going on in NY? What are you doing here?
TJ: Well I am in NY to promote myself and the Warm Chill album. I have also been invited by my label Dharma Moon to do interviews, DJ gigs and live performances.

AV: Warm Chill came out in Feb 2004 - how does it feel to be promoting something that is 9 months old - meaning are we going to be hearing new material also at your gigs?
TJ: Well yea, you are right - I should have done this way before. At least before the American release of the album. But really, this album doesn't have a short shelf life - it's an album that we can keep pushing because it's not a pop album. We can keep pushing it for a few years. My record label, does recognize the fact that it would have been better for me to come a bit earlier but you know what they say "better later than never." But, as I said, I am not just promoting the album I am also promoting myself as an artist. I have other albums and I will definitely be back again to promote those also. This is all part of a new long term process.

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After doing two albums with very different flavors - State of Bengal surprises us with a third one that has nothing in common with them. I chatted it up with the man to hear his views on why he does what he does - and what he thinks of this god forsaken record industry.

AV: You have done a bunch of different albums and this your third one - compared to the previous two - what is so different with this one?
SOB: This one pretty much started out because I wanted to work with Paban Das Baul. Initially the idea was to have him work on a track for my next album but, I didn't get to finish that album because I was working on so many different projects. So that one track just kind of turned into this Bengali Baul Folk Funk album. This is something I have always wanted to do since I was a young kid and that I have always wanted to do an entire album totally recorded in my living room - kind of regressing back to my roots - where it all started and yet taking it to the future.

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