Behind The Decks With Bay Beat Collective
BBC on their new direction and how they helped shape the bass music revolution in India
Bass-heavy music, unexplored in most cities or deemed inaccessible as compared with more popular electronic genres like psy-trance, techno or house, has only just begun to raise its head (and beats) above-ground over the past two years. Promoting gigs, therefore, is as important as being an accomplished DJ. Sitting in Arora’s Krunk office with a low bass beat playing in the background, I am reminded of the cafes, clubs and streets of Brighton city, known for its experimental bass music culture. The walls are covered with colorful and creative posters for various music gigs, displaying graffiti or digital style art forms closely associated with urban musical genres including hip-hop, reggae, and more recently, bass.
The culture of distributing flyers to attract wider audiences has allowed various forms of underground music to thrive across the world and also tied visual art and music together. “The whole bass revolution [in India] stands out because we were the first few crew to start this in Bombay,” says Arora, “No one promoted their parties with flyers, it was just done through Facebook, emails or websites. So we started actually making sure that we put out flyers for the gigs many weeks in advance to start creating a buzz.”
Besides popularizing the genre, it becomes increasingly crucial for artists to identify their own unique sounds. Indian classical sounds and Bollywood riffs have been mixed into UK-based dubstep tracks since 2002, leading one to presume the future of Indian bass music production lies in such “cultural” influences. While this is indeed the case with DJs like Bandish Projekt, whose remixes of Bollywood songs with a bassy edge have put him on the musical map, both classical and mainstream Indian music via Bollywood have had a far less monolithic link to BBC’s sound. “At the end of the day, we’re influenced by other artists in the bass scene, not classical Indian music. A group like us producing music will be very different from a person in England doing the same, because we come from a different background, with different influences and thought processes.” Being a group rooted in Mumbai, BBC points to everything from local trains to the food and art in the city as influences.
This idea resonates strongly with artists from postcolonial countries working with not just music, but in varied mediums. For example, many visual artists from the subcontinent have questioned a characteristically “Indian” or “ethnic” undertone to their work as the only means towards international validation. Similarly, musical artists are grappling with such questions of culture versus cliche. As Indian bass DJs increasingly find themselves playing to global audiences ”“ BBC, BASSFoundation and Reggae Rajahs are making their way to renowned bass music event Outlook Festival in Croatia this summer ”“ it will be fascinating to listen to the ways in which the “Indianness” of their music finds its path into the international bass scene.
Looking forward to the future of BBC, Correya’s response once again firmly places the successes of the collective within the wider bass movement. “We would like to be in a situation where this music has really gained momentum in India. As the sound gets more prominent, we’d like to be an influential part of it. We’re soon going to release music we’ve produced and we want to know we’ve made a difference to the Indian dance music scene,” says Correya.