‘Festival culture best thing to happen to India’s music scene’

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) With an unprecedented surge in festivals and concerts, the musical scenario in India is undergoing a significant change. Electronic music producer and composer Akshay Johar aka MojoJojo believes the burgeoning festival culture in the country is the “best thing” that has happened to its music scene.

“The entire festival culture in the country, be it NH7 Weekender, Magnetic Fields, Escape are probably the best things that have happened (to the music scene). Pub shows are a good thing and they are important, but for music to reach a level of importance and for people to take it seriously, I think festivals are super important,” MojoJojo told IANS in an interview.

“Every year, the numbers are growing and more people are organising festivals. That’s a very positive sign,” he added.

The Delhi/Dubai-based MojoJojo, whose first tryst with music happened at the age of 10, is steadily making his mark in the Indian electronic scenario with his live shows and unique style. He is now ready with his debut album titled “Shots Fired”, which will release next month.

“This album is a distillation of my musical experiences throughout my life until now. I have been playing music since age of 10 and I have played all sorts of music – from rock to metal to R&B. This album, as a producer, is about all those experiences, which is why it is very diverse in its sound,” he said.

And even though the crux of the music is predominantly bass-rich electronica, there are some Indian elements present too.

“There are tracks in Hindi and English. During my formative years, I heard a lot of western music – rock, hip-hop and that’s what initially inspired me. As I grew up, I started discovering more about our indigenous music – folk music from Rajasthan and Punjab. So, even though the styling of genre is bass music, dub step, trap but I have used those Indian influences as well within that style,” he said.

“So yes, which is why the sound of the album is so diverse. Even an average person can appreciate at least one or two tracks,” he added.

Asked if juxtaposing diverse elements to create a unifying musical confluence was a challenge to him, MojoJojo said: “I don’t find it a challenge. That’s what art is. For me personally, global bass music has always appealed to me. I have listened to a lot of hip-hop, trap, dnb (drum and bass). Those were my artistic predispositions at one point of time.”

He also said that he takes “a lot of pride in Indian classical music” and writing the album with such diverse elements was a “self-discovery”.

“I have heard a lot of folk and classical music. So somewhere in my head, when I was writing this album, all of it came together very naturally, which is why this album is very close to my heart, as it was a self-discovery for me as an artist,” he said.

“It’s not a challenge, it is how I speak. It is my language as a musician,” he added.

MojoJojo, who categorises his music under the ‘global bass music’, also released a quirky, refreshing EP entitled “Bass Bahar”, which revisits classic Bollywood tracks from the 1990s from a bass music perspective.

“At heart I am a supremely Indian with a very middle class background. So growing up as a kid in the 1990s, I loved Govinda and Akshay Kumar and everything around them. Their films had a huge impact on my formative years. As a producer of global bass music, I wanted to put out material, which, in my opinion, was reinventing the wheel a bit, pushing the envelope,” he said.

“Bass Bahar was an attempt to take those 1990s tracks, which were my favourites from back in the day and not just put a beat on them, but also re-arrange them melodically. It was my way of giving tribute to that era,” he added.

The musician, who cites pioneering acts likes Aphex Twin and Portishead as influences, also recognises the rising influence of hip-hop and rap in commercial film music.

“There is a lot of hip-hop and rap influences in the most of the commercial songs. It is interesting for me to see this as a producer, who started in the Indie scene,” he said.

“There are a couple of things in the pipeline, I am collaborating with few artists from the commercial space in Bollywood, which I can’t reveal. This is the direction which I am pursuing in life nowadays,” he added.

(Ankit Sinha can be contacted at ankit.s@ians.in)

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