To anyone who’s been keeping an eye on her career, it’s evident that Mumbai-based electronic musician Sandunes (Sanaya Ardeshir) has been waist-deep in a career surge of sorts. The Mumbai-based artist has been stretching out the boundaries of her own skills for a while now, which have resulted in some exemplary achievements and exciting plans for the next few months. Not least of which is having been chosen to open for none other than Bonobo on the 4th of July. The gig is a part of the upcoming Manchester International festival that culminates with the pair performing an intimate one-off concert at the infamous Manchester Cathedral. We had a short tete-a-tete with the gifted artist about her momentous achievement as well as a sneakpeek into her plans for 2017.
“It feels completely insane,” Sanaya admits. “Even though it’s been an aspiration to keep moving towards my favourite artists this one has been a bit hard to believe and has left me feeling truly grateful and also slightly terrified. When probed about how she received the news, she laughs.“I found out in an email which I re-read about 5 times while lying on the floor in a bit of a sweat, to be honest.”
As exciting as the news is for the industry as a whole, and her fans too, the news marks the completion of a full circle for the artist herself who has admittedly been inspired, in part, by the work of Simon Green whose latest album ‘Migration’ has been met with critical acclaim. . That being said, it’s also her first time going back to the country she credits with helping her polish her musical skills years ago when she was a student at the renowned Point-Blank music school in London. “There’s a lot of firsts for me this Summer, which I’m looking forward to,”she says. Though it’s not her first shindig outside the country—she already toured the United States in 2015—she admits that this time, the flavour of her tour and schedule is slightly different. “The gigs are fewer in number this time, but they’re a lot more aligned with the rooms and audiences I want to be playing to” Sanaya explains, as she paints us a picture of the out a new direction she would like her vision to extrapolate to.
As a result, her musical prowess has also caught the eye of fellow homegrown artists Parekh & Singh. The duo from Kolkata—also being hailed as one of Indian Indie’s biggest exports ever—are embarking on a summer tour in May, which will also feature Sandunes on keys along with the bass guitarist from New York who helped them record their first album.“I’m taking on synth duties for the two-week stint. It’s been immense fun learning their songs and we’re getting into rehearsal mode this week, which I’m really looking forward to” Ardeshir says excitedly. The tour will see her join the band and play in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Bristol.
While contemporary musicians in the country are now able to produce and release quality cutting-edge electronic music that is accepted globally, a few still find it tough to gain a foothold and an identity in a vastly competitive trade, which often finds Indian artists being defined according to where they come from, versus where they’re headed. When asked if the industry is finally standing up and taking notice of the largely infant Indian electronic music industry, Ardeshir’s point of view is unequivocal. “I’m not sure if it really matters,” she says.”Not that developing the industry isn’t hugely important to the richness of the local landscape, but there’s some really impressive music and art being created here in India, and I think it contributes whether the industry takes notice or not.”
Sanaya herself is one of the key contributors to the growth of alternative music in India, and has had an amazing and ‘expansive’ couple of months so far. From being one among a select few in the country to have successfully mastered the certified Ableton training module to being hand-picked by the Border Movement agency for a two month artist stint in Berlin this year, she has certainly been on a roll. “There’s been loads of ups and downs that’s given rise to the need to constantly adapt and come to terms with a lot of uncertainty. But each portion of that contrast has contributed to what’s ahead of me - which again, is nothing short of amazing, so I guess what I’m saying is that it’s been great” she says.The residency will see her exchange ideas, thought processes, and culture as she looks to explore the vibrant soundscape that the city has to offer. “What I’m most looking forward to is recording and performing in reverberant and unique spaces and with locally developed instruments and musicians” she extols.
Sanaya also admits that it doesn’t really bother her to be labelled as an “Indian” artist most of the time as she enjoys representing the country whenever the chance presents itself. On the flipside, she draws inspiration from travelling and experiencing the sights and sounds of different countries too. “More than the clubs and gigs- it’s the geographies and their culture around music that I’m always keen to imbibe and later channel into sound. The EP that’s in the pipes for instance, is completely built around recording sessions from New Orleans from a couple of years ago” she says.
So what lies ahead of the the electronica virtuoso for the rest of the year?
“There’s new music that is slowly fructifying into a release. It’s due to be out later this year, and the music has found its way into my sets so I will be performing most of it” she tells us. Certainly music to the ears of her fans who have been waiting anxiously for new music to journey with. Sanaya also has a few projects going on currently that she prefers to keep to herself despite a bit of prodding on our end.. That being said she’s happy to share about her “DifferentTrains 1947” project - “It’s got some incredible moving parts and the highlight of the year for me is undoubtedly going to be the performance at the Barbican this October, which has been a bit of a dream for many years.”
The Sky is certainly the limit for Sandunes as she is about to begin the next part of her incredible musical journey, choosing to dive into new waters rather than simply skim the surface.