MIMA workshop at Music Basti

I am volunteering with Music Basti these days. I got to attend a workshop on music improvisation by MIMA from Brooklyn. It was a great learning experience and one of the most interesting musica experiences I have ever had.

(Photo courtesy Harleen Sidhu)

Check out the entire set on their facebook page


Speaker at The Goa Project

906797_178224115660489_938467292_oI just made a quick but tiring trip to Goa as I was selected as one of the many speakers to give a lightning talk. I spoke on DIY sound objects. Was not able to take pictures. Also, I think my learning from the conference has mostly been intangible so bear the incoherence of the post. Just putting things here to keep them archived and in memory.








Ziro Festival of Music

Had I known I would be travelling in cramped buses and trucks to reach this festival, I would have probably never ventured out in the first place. But then the urge to attend my first music festival was so huge that it kind of made up for all the troubles endured.
Let me begin by describing the bad part about the trip so I can get that out of my way – A bus from IIT Guwahati to Jalukabari, a tempo from there to ISBT, waiting for two hours, a 10 hour journey to BandarDeva, a one hour journey to Lakhimpur, waiting for 4 hours and then a four-and-a-half hour bumpy journey through hilly terrain of Arunachal Pradesh to reach a beautiful village hidden from civilization in a pristine valley called Ziro. Before I describe the three days of madness that followed let me describe my return trip. the day I was supposed to return was Vishwakarma Pooja and they worship vehicles on that day, no one would take me from Ziro to Guwahati. So I had to hitch a ride with the truck to Bandardeva that was carrying the generator that powered the festival. A journey that took 4 hours on my way to Ziro in a Sumo took 8 hours in that truck. Then after waiting for 5 hours at the Huge facade that said “Welcome To Itanagar”, I got a seat or minimal space to rest my bums in the front cabin of a bus. Spent the next 9 hours trying to find a comfortable position. Even tried sitting on the floor to sleep when it started raining and water started seeping in the bus. I managed to be back somehow from the trip with my camera to make this blog post possible.

Now that the cross is out of the way, lets get to the festival now. Three days of music in a place surrounded by paddy fields on all four sides. The organizers didnt expect it to rain so much I think because from the first day itself the whole entrance and the audience area turned into a muddy slush. I being Denny George the dumb boy that I am, I forgot to pack my warm clothes and boots. So I enjoyed the festival holding an umbrella over my head. Later I learnt from some other people that I looked really silly holding my umbrella upright and nodding my head and swaying to the music.

Ziro being a tourist attraction, a lot of its economic activities are such that they cater to tourists. My stay was at a place that was a village. Some villagers have made homes within villages and they rent it out to tourists offering them a home stay experience. Given that Idea does not provide their mobile services in Ziro I had no mobile phone and I was literally cut off from the rest of the world for 3 days. Living in a hut amidst other such home-stays that had artists staying there, it felt like a different life alltogether. Waking up every morning (for three days) and realizing there is no where to rush to, that I could just be on my own and take slow steps at a time to the festival venue was a happy realization.

View outside my house, the village (Bamin Basti) around me :

Food was a dificult to obtain. All you get anywhere was Rice, Chicken, Pork and Mutton. It was also strange to see people roast rats as we roast Corns in North India during rain to eat as crunchy snacks. The newly minted Vegetarian that I am, I managed to find a shabby restaurant and had Vegetable Chowmien and coffee. The manager was so upset to see me eating this pauper’s diet that he asked me to order soup (non-veg) multiple times.

Curtains drawn to hide the corner that is yours reminded me of the description of a similar Cafe in Shillong in Anjum Hassan’s Lunatic in my head. Couples walking into cabins and drawing the curtains was a kind of PDA that I am not used to.

The hut you see far away in the background on top of a hill in the center of the image was our Festival Spot :

They practice something interesting here while farming. These paddy fields are also used to rear fishes which they hunt later.

Besides some of the new bands I fell in love with I developed two new artist crushes :
Alisha Batth is a bluely folk and rock singer and though she had a bad day during the fest, I could not help but gawk as she sang beautifully and struggled with barre chords because of cramped hands.

Adding to the list of man crushes is another bald (after Vishal Dadlani) man – Vocalist for the band Aftertaste. Besides giving a pumped up performance, he managed to keep the audience in splits with his witty responses and interaction with the audience. He even composed an impromptu song to serenade a guy with lyrics that went something like this – “Oh boy I’m gonna sing this song. Later you’re gonna be wearing my jeans and I your thong”. The sound on their lead guitar broke down in the middle of a performance and the rest of the members broke into an impromptu performance of RHCP’s ‘Cant stop’ which I managed to capture on my camera :

Another interesting personality I met in the fest was this Bob Marley Look alike. He had cycled all the way from Kaziranga along with some friend for the fest and when someone called him a hippie he replied smiling that He was instead a “gone-case”. He did weird stuff like rolling in the mud, kicking it around, while being high all the while. He was fun to watch though.

The roads I travelled on :

The beast I rode :

All my life I thought I had little desires. After this trip I realized I have infact little knowledge about the luxuries of the world. Even though I absolutely love cycling, this was my first time on a fancy geared cycle and it has definitely gone to my list of things to buy in the future when I have enough money.

Back to the fest :

Musical Discoveries were Peter Cat Recording Company (the Vocalist was really high on stage and told the audience that He didn’t negotiate with terrorists when they were shouting for an encore. Amazing music. Really spaced out and psychedellic(for lack of a better word in my vocabulary)), Sky Rabbit (Really trippy stuff), Teddy Boy Kill (Electronica act I was looking forward to see how it is done live) and Lou Majaw (the 65 year old rockstar, pride of North East)

Though I dont booze or smoke up it was really tempting to see everyone high on rice beer and weed. I might have tried it out had I not been alone. After a guy asked me if he could kiss me I was not really sure if me being a guy would have saved me from danger if i was drunk alone. I missed some friends at times because It would have been a nice experience to share and I know some friends who would have loved to be there.

Now I am back to my lab and still can’t believe its over – my first music festival.