Deep Forest Returns To India
Frontman Eric Mouquet of the Grammy winning world music act talks about Bollywood, plagiarism and his two shows in India next month
For a band that comes with its own categorization [ethnic electronica], it’s no surprise that Deep Forest’s Eric Mouquet likes to call himself a “folklorist with keyboards and samplers” rather than a musician. Since the electronica duo came together in 1992, [originally comprising Mouquet and Michel Sanchez], the Grammy winning world music act has been drawn to collecting samples from the world over [Baka, a Ubangian language spoken by the Baka Pygmies, Spanish, Hungarian, Russian chants, gypsy sounds] and mixing them to ambient sounds and dance-friendly, chill-out beats.
Deep Forest’s 90’s smash “Sweet Lullaby”, off their eponymous album, featured samples of a traditional Baegu lullaby from the Solomon Islands and went viral across the world even in the pre-internet days. In India, their music achieved household status when the title track from their 1993 eponymous album featured on a Bollywood film, Gupt, though unaccredited. “Yes I know about it [Gupt]. Plagiarism is probably not the most glorious way to make music… why didn’t they call me to compose the music,” says Mouquet.
In 2005, when Sanchez went onto pursue his solo career, Mouquet decided to carry the Deep Forest music forward with the help of collaborations. “We separated around 10 years ago, and since I did compose and produce more music then, for me it’s just a normal process to continue my work with Deep Forest. I like to collaborate with great vocalists and great musicians who bring their own musical culture,” says the composer-producer and electronica veteran, who follows Deadmau5, Skrillex and Amon Tobin from the current crop of EDM stars.
Mouquet has spent the last few years jamming with artists from various parts of the world as part of Deep Projects, a collaborative series launched in 2008, that has seen editions such as Deep Brasil, Deep Africa and Deep China. More recently, the 52-year-old was in the country for its India chapter titled Deep India, an album which sees the French artist collaborate with santoor player Rahul Sharma. The eight tracks on the album cover the soundscape of the country, featuring folk music from Jammu, Assam, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala and Coorg. “The music in India is so rich, I believe I have to make more than one project… We’re already talking about some ideas with Rahul,” he says.
Watch “Viva Madikeri” from Deep India here:
After months of sharing music files on Skype, the two met for a concert in Coorg in December 2012. “It was quite an unusual meeting because for the first weeks we only communicated by email and started composing music over the internet… the whole album came like that. So when I met Rahul in India for the first time, it was like we knew each other for years… it was so easy to play on stage together,” says Mouquet, “This is the real power of music, a universal language and an instant communication through ears and heart.”
As Mouquet gears up for his debut in Mumbai and Nashik, where Deep Forest performs on day two of the music and wine festival, SulaFest, he will be joined by a variety of world music artists such as Alune Wade from Senegal on bass, Olyza Zamati from Ivory Cost on vocals and David Fall on drums. He says the club show will be very different from his performance at the wine festival: “Every show is different, I love to improvise a lot with my musicians, it gives them a lot of freedom on stage, depending of the atmosphere, energy, or emotion of the moment. We will play songs from the very first Deep Forest album to the very last Deep India and Deep Africa, and of course a choice of songs from Deep Forest music through this last 20 years.”
Deep Forest performs at Blue Frog Mumbai on February 6th, Entry Rs 700; and at Sulafest on February 3rd. For tickets, click here