"Ethnotechno Vol. 1 presented by dimmSummer is an album that manages to take an electronic, bass-heavy snap shot of 21st Century South Asian audio."
- Bobby Friction [BBC Radio1 & The Asian Network]
Stream and download a track from the album by clicking on the link below:
Six years after the Dub, Dubstep and Drum & Bass of Revolution Rising I blazed a sonic trail, the time is ripe for sweet seconds. The man behind the pioneering website dedicated to pushing ‘left-field Asian-tinged electronica’, dimmSummer, initially started Ethnotechno in 2001, to ‘take the sounds of the diaspora back to its source: South Asia'. Also the co-founder of High Chai Recordings, we drew considerably from his experiences in chronicling bass culture in India last year over two volumes. Having built an enthusiastic audience for artists from the UK, US and other parts of the world over the course of his career, it is only fitting that while the first volume came out in 2009 to introduce audiences to the electronic side of music from the Indian subcontinent, the sequel Revolution Rising vol. II features a fresh wave of electronic artists representing the future of subcontinental bass culture.
It's been an eventful interim, and Homegrown caught up with dimmSummer over what has changed since, the motivation to create a sequel and his take on what revolutionary soundscapes the future might have in store for us:I. It's been six years since Revolution Rising Vol 1 came out. What made you decide it was time for seconds?
A truly weird thing was happening to me while Ethotechno.com was at its height between the years of 2002 and 2008 - something only a handful of people know, but I am ready to divulge here, so many years later: there were hundreds of tracks in an online database with Live365, the engine behind the ET radio station. It housed half a dozen lists of perhaps 200 tracks each with very little overlap. This made it so at any one time a listener could tune and find music they perhaps did not hear before. On top of all this, each list was randomized (shuffled up) and saved each week, making these lists unique on every play.
Here’s where it gets weird: As I’d listen to my own station consisting of these random playlists, an artist’s track would come on and that very artist would suddenly call me or email me on some unrelated matter. The first few times this happened I chalked it up to coincidence; after it became routine, I asked if they too were listening at that very moment and had decided to say hi. They were not, and also usually called from the road (and listening to music on your phone via the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today).
Simply put: there was a ghost in the machine.
Six years later, I wanted to re-discover that ghost.
II. What was the driving idea behind the first Revolution Rising? Tell us a little bit about your selection process for Vol I, and what made you feature these 16 artists ultimately. What was the sort of response it received from listeners across the world? RR1 was being developed since September 2008, and finally saw the light of day on June 22, 2009. Through the relationships I had built with Ethnotechno.com, I saw an opportunity to put together an album showcasing a combination of names from the Asian Underground and global diaspora that were never seen before (or since). I chose artists I had access to and who wanted to be a part of the comp.
There were many genres being repped, from a pre-Trap remix of DJ Cheb i Sabbah (RIP) by The Arch Cupcake (better known as FS) to a DnB remix of Swami from Shiva Soundsystem, and the chillout of Karsh Kale. A special one was my remix of Bob Holroyd’s 'Dark Waters' off one of the first 'World Music' CDs I bought in July, 2000, on Six Degrees Records. Completing that circle was a dream realized.
That compilation also predated the 'dubstep' explosion in India with tracks like Nuphlo’s “Cassiopeia”:
Think about that: for all the bright young Bass Music fans reading this in India – think of where you were in the summer of 2009. Were you under the sun at a festival, on Facebook, Twitter… or was it MySpace?
These are the things memories are made of. Music’s ability to arrange molecules in your brain to form chemical addresses that lock in moments in time you can revisit over and over again. Music is a drug. It’s a shame its monetary value has been all but destroyed by the internet. Now imagine if you could get free coffee from the web!
Funnily enough, RR2 would have never happened if it were not for Facebook, Soundcloud and the likes.
III. How has your selection process for the 4/20 release been different? RR2 features an all-India lineup as opposed to the first one (which featured a host of artists based in other parts of the world). Was this a deliberate decision you made?
If there was one recurring theme in all my random interviews with the artists from RR1 on Ethnotechno.com, it would be that India was to be the returning point for all this. So yes, once I saw that this new vision of music was taking root in the motherland, I had to act quickly. It still took almost a year to complete, but would have never come to fruition without the aid of Facebook and social media connecting me across oceans to talent I couldn’t meet physically.
Another key feature that ties all this together besides the artists being country-mates is that all the tracks are new and exclusive - you won’t find them anywhere else for a while. Choosing the roster from so much legit artistry was difficult, and while I couldn’t get everyone I wanted in one go, RR2 remains very eclectic and future-bound.
IV. How did you go about conceptualising this album and how has the experience of working with the 15 artists featured on the album been like?
While the first Revolution Rising venture sported a broad selection of genres, I wanted to do the same here but also consciously stayed away from the now very-tired screechy 'bro-step' circa 2010 sound that I unfortunately still hear being churned out today. Most compilations you see post the advent of streaming retailer sites online are all one-genre based: all Dubstep, all House, all DnB, etc… To me, this gets stale pretty fast so I drive in the more varied lane, even if that means someone may not like it all.
Casting the new album was very organic. Some artists, such as Zokhuma, couldn’t make the comp due to scheduling conflicts, but he introduced me to Kumail who then turned in an exquisite Future joint with fellow traveller Echofloat. When I tapped Pippin via Facebook, said he was just about to write to High Chai regarding his upcoming EP.The ghost starts to resurface…
V. From the Dub, Dubstep and Drum & Bass of Cheb i Sabbah, MIDIval Punditz and The Nasha Experience on RR1 to Fuzzy Logic's Deep House, Su-real's Trap and Kumail x Echofloat's Future beats - how do you feel the upcoming album represents the new sound of India?
This new collective of luminous rising stars is very exciting for me and High Chai in general. Founded at the start of the new millennium by DK aka FILMI, High Chai has always pushed the boundaries of electronica and bass music. With the advents of High Chai Vol. 1, RR1, Nu Asian Soundz and Subcontinental Bass (Vol 1), chronicling of the evolving bass music in the motherland has always held a special place for us.
With the explosion of Dubstep across the world, paving the way for a broader representation of electronica for the masses, the new album’s wider spectrum of influences is very indicative of where India and the world’s musical tastes are heading. Everything from Trap, DnB, Future RnB, Chillout and Rocktronica find a home on RR2.
VI. What are your thoughts on how soundscapes have evolved in India over the past decade, and which direction do you see it moving towards next?
I like the enthusiasm of the audiences in India today. This is coming from someone that has watched the scene develop from almost nothing to what it is now. I recall Udyan (Nucleya), while he was part of Bandish Project with Mayur (Mosillator) telling me that while living and producing in Ahmedabad as barely-twenty-something's, they would check Ethnotechno.com daily or more to see if something new was posted. It fueled their drive to keep creating a unique brand of music for their homeland. They felt like it was worth it despite being isolated in Ahmedabad.
Now, there’s a scene brewing all over besides Delhi and Mumbai - such as Shillong, Bangalore, Nagaland, even Hyderabad has finally come onto the map thanks to the efforts of pushers like Dakta Dub and his crew, and agencies like Arjun Vagale/Unmute’s Reset gigs that changed how things were done there.
With all these hotbeds of activity India’s sonic landscape is wide open for exploration. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more Chillout and Future vibes to contrast the grittiness of India’s urban centres, and the upscale lightshows of the festival season.
VII. Tell us a little bit about the artwork for the new album, and who is behind it. How was your approach to this different from Vol I?
The original artwork is by Christopher Nagy that DK then urged me to tweak towards a more India-Blade Runner vibe (under Shutterstock license). We wanted something that represented a coming together of forces and that was very forward-looking and futuristic, to contrast the steampunk-rustic feel of RR1’s art. VIII. In your opinion, do you feel like audiences today are now more open to experimental left-of-field genres which are cropping up as offshoots of bass/electronic music? What is the kind of response you expect for this album?
I feel that artists and audiences in India are more open to a larger array of musical experiences than other places, simply due to their size and geography. For the most part, India is a tropical country, so it’s warm year-round and that lends to a party atmosphere better than the cold concrete jungles of NYC, for example. India is starting to mimic the West Coast of the US because of this shared climate.
So this kind of openness to go out and explore sounds, coupled with the sheer size of demographics promotes growth, variation and experimentation more than usual. Of course there’s a very commercial side to India’s aural consumption, one need only look to the Progressive House, Trance and Bollywood Remix sectors for proof.
But I see a revolution rising against the status quo...
Stream the entire album below & buy the whole album on Beatport