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Category: Interviews

AV: Let's start with the most recent - whats going on in london?
DK: I've been invited to spin an opening set at Temple of Sound's LIVE press gig + record release at Cargo feat. Michael Riley (Steel Pulse) and the fab diva of all divas Ms. Natacha Atlas. Martin Morales of Futuro Flamenco (Outcaste) is also spinning that night. I feel honored that I am on their new album alongside legends such as Jah Wobble, Natacha, Doudou N'Diaye Rose and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
LINK : http://www.mondomix.org/mix_us/reviews_us/reviews_artists/temple2.htm

AV: Actually yeah, after I saw that on your website - I went ahead and got their cd.
DK: Cool. The track I’m on with Neil Sparkes is actually a remix of my vocals the TOS gents were passed on via a DAT I had given to Ben Steadman at Splash, which they had been holding onto since 1997. Pretty amazing huh? Kismet! But in all honestly, I have to say I personally feel that my re-sampled vocals sound a bit choppy and rushed at times, but it's pressed and out there...and I hear people are diggin’ it all over the world...So I have to go with the flow...I really much prefer the Club Remix without some of my vocals that Count Dubullah has done...EarthTribe had also done an earlier mix with those vocals back in 1999. I am trying very hard NOT to be too much of a control freak and be one of those musicians who feels that "you can't just sample a sound and use it" - more and more, especially of late, I am discovering that "there are no rules with music; you shouldn't have rules in music." - to me if it sounds good and I am feeling it - Great, it's on! Let's drop it in...Got my head cocking...Make it blend dk make it blend...Creating an emotion...Now that’s the challenge...That’s what I’m working on.

AV: The Shiva Shakti vocals have been remixed by various artists -
DK: Yeah...The Shiva Shakti vocals have been since in their numerous forms and reincarnations been put on three compilations since its release

AV: Yea, you are getting a great deal of exposure out of the Revolution of the Heart track.
DK: Yes it's out on their album and has just gotten picked up on Spirit of India 3 compilation, but its not just about that. I love collaboration in music - I love working with other people to create music. So through this hopefully I will get a chance to do that more with Temple of Sound and others.

AV: Talking about other artists - artists/people/anyone that are pure inspirations to you.
DK:

On Ming+FS:
Ming & FS are 2 really influential + inspiring people/producers/artists - I have absolutely loved working and growing with them. They bring out the best in me. With them I feel like I am guarded and can go places I didn't even know I could - in a cocoon because they are extremely nurturing and teach me/guide me to develop my own thing. OK for real?...they can be really harsh as producers sometimes and give me the official "Madhattan Hell's Kitchen beatdown" sometimes...Kidding! FS aka Freddie Churchill is just an amazing producer and my favorite dj...Their influence is a testament to what I have produced....what I have accomplished musically...they are generous because they are the very best at what they do and share their knowledge, their musicianship and their time with artists like myself (as has State of Bengal). They take what I bring to the studio - to the mic - to a much higher level...

On State of Bengal:
Besides just being a huge State of Bengal fan...I kind of consider him to be my mentor and a true friend. A-Mazing! He has taught me a lot. I have been lucky enough to spend time with him in his studio and at this home in the UK. Generous host...still waiting for dem fish kebabs! Actually a year and half ago, I wasn't feeling too good about a lot of stuff...a bit out of wack...musically, spiritually...he totally set me straight. I was questioning my direction as an artist and feeling the pressures of what was expected of me and he simply turned to me and said something like "Why do you feel the pressure to put Asian-sounding instrumentation in this...in anything you do? You are from India...it's in your soul... you were born there...just do what makes you feel good...put down what you feel...Drums, Guitar, Congas..."
Sam, as well as our really really good friend Sweety Kapoor have been a truly important part of my musical journey. Sweets, has been very influential in the UK scene - she was one of the original Anokha crew and now through her own production and PR outfit UGSS (Underground Sound System) has been working with amazing artists and bridging the gap between the UK and India (FYI: I usually almost always open my dj set with Music is by State of Bengal...) Wait till you hear the nu stuff State Of Bengal is gonna drop in 2003!

On working with Temple Of Sound :
Count Dubullah is a fierce producer and musician who has worked with some of the most influential world musicians of our time, from Jah Wobble, LKJ and Natacha Atlas to the Rizwan posse. Uhmmm, let’s see...I’m humbled and honored to say the least!...and I haven't met them yet...A bit nervous...Looking forward to it though...

On my studio partner Orlando F/ aka F-International :
Probably the most underrated classics house DJ and amazing production dude I have had the good fortune to work with in the studio. He was one of the resident Djs for our pyar:amor nights and rocked the house at the humaNYCbenefit with an all-star NYC dj crew lineup! We're working together on tracks and remixes due out next year both on his indie Kontinuos and 12"s we hope to release on high chai records.

On my mother, Dolly K:
She is my truest supporter and spiritual backbone. She is the one the only DollyMamaLama who has kept me going in the toughest of times. I owe it all to her. But as a classically trained pianist, she doesn't really get it. I followed in her footsteps and was classically trained from the age of 7 thru 11 and then opted to move from the family Yamaha upright to my Juno 6, Korg M1 and SP1200...thanks to her patronage and much needed funding! (And my dad Fredy K for just being my relentless critic and overall self-appointed ball-buster...makes me want to excel all the more!)

On the world music crews the globe over:
...in the UK, SF, Mumbai, Ahmedebad, Dehli, NYC and the world over...Ek Avaaz...nAvaaz2003...

AV: Tell me about the track Misdirected with Aref Durvesh?(as dk gets up and plays some of it...)
DK: Yeah it's both on the Ming+FS album Subway Series as well as the album and Om 100 - the new compilation. It's a really chill track. It talks about chakras. I'm obsessed with chakras and the role they play in life, in art, in everything we do. And for the record, I am not just counting on the track - The ek, do, teen, char is a spiritual countdown to the 4 guarding musical dieties within the walls of the chakra...I was using the Nayratma chakra. I liked it because it had to do with ego tripping and being selfless. When I was studying the chakras, I liked that they had four musician guards around them so I was talking about us four working together...collaborating on making something special.
LINK: omzone.com

AV: So changing gears a bit - what do you think of everything that is going on here? Say compared to the Brits.
DK: You know, I get asked that question quite a bit and if you had asked me two years ago I would have been able to answer it better. I have been kinda/sorta outta the loop as my attendance has waned a bit as of late. This past year, I worked on several remixes and have been working on producing my own stuff, writing new tracks in the studio and finding time to shoot and direct some shorts and PSAs...Played a lot of fashion week parties and shows...I'd say the best world musician I was introduced to this past year was Sainkho Namtchylak, the Tuvan electronic throat singer. She is a goddess. Another great diva I discovered some time back is Maritza, the Fado/Portugese musician and well ofcourse the Brazilian DrumNBass DJ Marky! My friend Dmitre at Rock,Paper Scissiors has been sending me some amazing world music.

AV: So no thoughts on the scene here in NYC?
DK: Well I think there has been a definite shift. I mean, Sir Karsh dropped his sound and has done it some justice complete with a much-needed LIVE infusion.

AV: Yea he seems to have presented what he thinks the scene should be like.
DK: I dunno...As a musician you don't start a track thinking about the scene. You present what you want to say and what you feel...at least that's what I do...and, I feel he has done that. I think finally it is becoming more about the individual artists rather than the "scene". ...and G, personally I am so tired of the comparisons between the UK and US scene. It's all about music...Not about postal and zipcodes...I just urge everyone to do their own thing and just come together and showcase it - no matter how different it is from each other. A friendly Jugalbandi, of sorts.

AV: Since this individuality is only beginning to happen now...was this cohesive view of the scene part of the reason why you have been shying away from media exposure?
DK: Is it? Not at all. I felt that I personally as a musician was being ethnified. Identified not based on my music, but on rather on my cultural origin...Musical profiling at it’s worst...It was all about the angle...Not for me...I felt that there is a time and a place for everything and that I was being asked to place a social context on my music. It would be one thing to discuss OmZone and high chai within the context of our ideology and philosophy of a "conscious club". The simple truth - I just do what I do, because it sounds and feels right...if you don't like it then don't listen to it. I make it...I share it...I don't want to be part of a social demographic when it comes to my musicianship and be interviewed FIRST because I am a South Asian and second because I am a musician...Listen without prejudice...

AV: That's exactly what I mean - how do you as an artist approach the genrefication of what you do "as world music" then? Do you tell the record label "this is a hip hop track and I want it marketed as such?"
DK: You know what, G? - You don't and can't really control what happens in the big bad world of radio, retail and promo. You go into a studio, make your best, hottest shit come from the deepest place you know exisits and then have your marketing meetings, put your trust in your label, have a really good management team around you and hope for the best! It's just the way it is... We're new!...baby steps! There is no radio format available for this "world music" genre in the mainstream and probably won't be for a very very long time in the US, but to date I've been lucky working with artists such as Ming+FS and Temple Of Sound and crossing the tracks over to an audience that wouldn't necessarily be exposed to my vibe. So I think it's mainly a timing issue - eventually it will come to a point where people won't listen to the track and say "ah that's world music," but rather say "that shit is hot" People like the new tracks we are putting out and I think what we have to do is just keep working at it, be true to ourselves and eventually people will come around...or not!

AV: All right, getting back to you then. So what else have you been upto?
DK: I have been working on two projects very close to my heart. I am in the process of licensing tracks for two compilations that we are dropping on the High Chai Label and will be looking for distribution. My long overdue dream has been to start the High Chai series so as to capture and reflect the vibe of the High Chai benefit events. I am also trying to travel as much as I can. I hope this doesn't get taken the wrong way, but I haven’t particularly felt inspired to spin at lounges in New York, much. I hope to change that in 2003. I was actually spinning last week at the A|X - Armani Exchange store in the window...Great experience..People are extremely receptive and musically open in that kind of environment. A booth set up facing the street in the window with the speakers blaring with tons of house, breaks, dnb. It was great. I kind of just do whatever comes. Also I am in the processing of getting the gotoasa.org site redone with my partner Navneet at Productbeta.

AV: What's going on with the gotoasa.org website?
DK: It should be up again in 2003. We're currently in the process of redesigning a new one, with partners and NGO affiliations in Mumbai. just finished producing three thirty second video spots with us. I got a chance to co-direct 2 spots, one of which will be soon uploaded, called 100%Human. We are going to upload them onto the site and we and are submitting them to various festivals. We luckily had $30,000 worth of post-production time and labor donated for this effort and a lot of really generous people came together to make these spots and this project a reality!
LINK: gotoasa.org

AV: So what happened to High Chai Events - why did they stop?
DK: Hmmmm. They haven’t stopped. We’ve been on a hiatus. Since the split between my business partner, and I... I just felt that what I had started, a small grass roots movement, wasn't going in the direction I wanted it to go. It was going towards more Public Relations and less effective not for profit efforts to raise awareness for the AIDS epidemic in South Asia.

AV: What do you mean exactly?
DK: Hmmm. Well, my ex-partner and I had very different ideas on what the marketing strategy and day-to-day goals should be. To him it was about getting as many articles written about the project (predominantly about himself with his picture intact) as possible. It was time for that much needed change in a more focused + positive direction...I opted to chill, regroup and restructure...which is what we have done and are really really excited about 2003 and the projects we have lined up on the LIVE event as well as label/compilation end. Hope everyone comes out and supports the cause and our efforts again as they did with such enthusiaim and love. So now if some one asks me "when is the next High Chai event?" Basically my response is, when I feel that the music, the art, the film, the fashion part of it is actually facilitating fund raising efforts - since that wasn't happening in the beginning....It will again in early 2003. Stay tuned!

AV: So are you approaching record labels about the 2 new High Chai compilation projects in the works, then?
DK: Well yea for the High Chai Mixtape we're in talks with some UK labels. It's on the downtempo global tip - but the way I think "conscious chill out" should feel + sound like ...you know shantiAshanti... slowed down versions of original tracks or the re-edits of the of other tracks to make the mixtape a real mixtape...And I’m proud of it 'cause I did it myself. As for the humaNYC high chai sessions:vol1...it will feature artsits that have either performed at the LIVE beneift events here in NYC over the past 3 years or contributed tracks for the 12" promo only LIMITED edition version released back in 2000... can't wait to put the LIVE high chai vibe onto a CD and take the "conscious club" all over the world. Here take a look at the artwork for the cover. (hands it to me)

AV: Does that say "why does chillout have to be sleepy?" (reading the artwork)?
DK: Hah, yea that's exactly how I feel. Kinda tired of the whole chill out scene being very sleepy. When people are relaxing and listening to music they aren't falling asleep - Chillin...u know... Not sleepin...For example, when I am djing I can't imagine playing something slow or down tempo for more than 15-20 minutes - I get ansie and begin feeling like a bit of a human jukebox, only without the quarters! I find myself jonesing to throw down something with a heavier, grittier beat and a drum line but one that you can still chill out to...So the CD, well actually CD-Rom, is going to reflect that.

AV: CD-Rom?
DK: Yeah...I'm into the audio as much as the visual and have always have been...My dj sets come complete with my own brand of visuals. Well my cousin Riyad Vinci Wadia owns Wadia Movitone Studios featuring grand - aunt - the legendary Bollywood stunt goddess and icon "Fearless Nadia." So with this legacy, Riyad and I have been working together, incorporating this vintage collection into both compilations. So they are actually going to be CD-Roms - part of the reason...why this project has been so challeging and has taken so long. We were the first in NYC to project Bollywood visuals mixed in with socially conscious messages from our the Wadia Movietone archives, thanks to Riyad and library sources all over the world. The Wadia Movietone philosophy has been based on one of enlightenment and education through film and visuals via the genius of J.B.H Wadia, a vision that is now being carried out successfully via Riyad and his recent efforts. (http://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/persons/me-wadia.html )

AV: So when is the next High Chai event?
DK: Spring 2003. Stop pressuring me, G! next!:)))

AV: Heh! ok...so going back to London - what are you playing out there? Any of your own stuff?
DK: I am dropping some new remixes and stuff I found from a while back...tracks like Karsh's remix of The Cure - its simply amazing, one track 'Bhangra Fever' by the MIDIval Punditz off the Asian Massive CD, Ming+FS Remixes off their new Subway Series release. dk remixes for sure! I'm dropping the new Red Hot + Riot stuff that I get thru the Giant Step Promo List and this awesome new djShadow/Mos Def Remix of Six Days...stuff that no one has heard and some remixes that I have been working on. I have been mixing a lot of Latin/Brazilian with Indian sounds and want to showcase that and get some instant feedback...

AV: Cool! Come on girl, release this stuff already!
DK: Yea! It's time I think. I am ready. See the thing is I like it to be correct and perfect...I know...NO SUCH THING! my personal artist paranoia and overall insecurity! I'm learning to get over it...slowly! baby steps!

AV: Talking about that - how do you approach the music you create?
DK: I start with a drum beat. I love disco, I love hip hop, I was a Zeppelin fanatic, growing up - I like music but for me it has to be music with a beat. I am all about the remix because I want a kick - something I can jump to. I’m a huge A Guy Called Gerald fan. He seems to be able to put chill vocals and create a vibe while the kick and snare are right up there with a rich bass line...and in your face...but subtly...Make sense? The perfect juxtapose. On another tip...I heard something totally new from the UK I have been feeling lately...The Streets. This is some ill shit! Have you heard it?

AV: No not yet...So you are more about the tracks one can dance to?
DK: Not so much that. Be moved by...Move to...I am more into hip hop, drum n bass and breakbeat. I like the ragga, rougher nastier 2-step tracks too. For that matter bhangra and Bollywood remixes are cool too...I just like being able to create a track that makes my head start boppin...I'm just starting to learn how to sequence and create music for the first time, on my own. I am learning how to use Digital Performer to produce and sequence my own stuff and it's kicking my ass. I can so be that "idiot-past-the-studio light-switch-kinda-grrlie-sometimes, you know"...Just me and my G4...oh and learning how to use my shiny new Pioneer 1000CDj...Also, I don't just like using loops - looking more for the dynamic. Got some cool LIVE drums from my drummer friend that I've sampled and chopped up as I have done with some tablas...So I start with a drum beat and I then I just start building on top of it. While I am doing this, if I come up with a vocal or find a sample and drop them all in...Pile it on... I mean, if it sounds good, I just go for it...

AV: So what about your own vocals?
DK: Well I don't sing - at least classical Indian vocals. I truly admire those that excel a it. I love the vocals of the Sufi begum Abida Parveen. I lean towards R&B type of vocals like the ones I did on Revolution and I am hoping to drop some more of that soon along with the harder edge tracks we’ve been working on.

AV: All right that's all I had for you. Thanks. Any final words?
DK: Rock it from the heart...Don't Hate: Create

Additional Info:
First Edition by Temple of Sound
Subway Series by Ming+FS

   
1 dk OmZone - Voodo Jadoo
2 dk ReMix - Maritza
3 Ming+FS feat DK+Aref - Misdirected
   
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