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Festival Preview: Eden ArtFest, Mumbai

In its second year, the two-day festival to be held this weekend promises to be another engaging, riotous and debauched affair

Kenneth Lobo Nov 12, 2015
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There are no headliners, no frills, no nonsense. One look at the flyer for Eden ArtFest and you’ll be challenged to Google your way through the lineup. And that is a reward in itself. You’ll find that the Parisian trio dOP’s live act is an unmissable interactive showcase of electronic music theatre —  their soulful house and techno songs are all performed with panache and a rock & roll attitude. They’re joined by Berlin-based counterpart Aquarius Heaven, who joins the dots between dancehall, hip-hop and electronic music with an idiosyncratic style that is all his own.

Aquarius Heaven 1

Berlin DJ Aquarius Heaven will play a mix of hip hop, dancehall and electronic music at his set at Eden ArtFest. Photo: Courtesy of Eden ArtFest

Another Berlin-based DJ whose work is just as twisted and free of the trappings of genre is Mayaan Nidam. She combines her deep, trippy sounds with some adventurous, wild flourishes. Nidam’s set at Palladium’s poolside last year was one of the few times, if ever, you heard Seventies’ disco queen Donna Summer’s “Sunset People” in Mumbai. And completing the international contingent is Quenum [one half of fresh techno and house project, Azimute], co-founder of Cadenza Records, electronic music’s most celebrated labels, renowned for its edgy minimal sound.

Mayaan Nidam

Expect a genre-bending act by Berlin-based DJ Mayaan Nidam. Photo: Courtesy of Eden ArtFest

The local representation is just as tasty. Live-wire electro-pop duo Madboy/Mink, analog synth-pop producer Aqua Dominatrix, DJ Uri’s recent funk-and-bass Midi Fiddler project and future garage producer-DJ Sandunes, playing a live-set with Bhavishyavani ringleader MMat [Mathieu Josso], bring into focus the smorgasbord of musical styles on offer. Josso says, “The idea of Eden is to touch a larger crowd, [more] than a pure Bhavishyavani party, where we are happy to play for ourselves. So it means a diversity of music sensibilities. Any music programmer is going to look at the audience reach of an artist versus personal tastes. Obviously, it needs to fit the overall event philosophy.”

Sandunes_Photo credit_Neville Sukhia

Sandunes will be part of the Indian lineup at Eden ArtFest. Photo: Neville Sukhia

The extensive roster of top Indian talent at Eden ArtFest reflects the shift that the Bhavishyavani Future Soundz crew have made since 2014. In May that year, Mumbai’s prized beach-facing venue Aurus shuttered. It also led to the closure of Bhavishyavani’s annual Sundown sessions, which since 2009, served the city with acts like Peter Kruder and Mathew Jonson, artists you’d usually catch in Europe, or Dubai perhaps. Their fresh partnership with the proprietors of Bonobo in Bandra and Cafe Nemo in Worli has focussed on introducing artists from across India to Mumbai audiences. Kolkata-based artists 5volts and Deep Brown, Bangalore-based duo Twokid Wickid and Goa-based DJs Raimund Imo and Raketka have all played stellar sets at Bhavishyavani’s monthly residencies Heartbeat and Blackout.

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This year’s edition has also relocated to Tote on the Turf at Mahalaxmi racecourse, allowing for a two-room experience indoors [10pm-1.30am] and an outdoor stage running during the day [2-10pm]. What you also don’t see on the flyer is that Eve Lemesle’s arts management agency What About Art? will curate another round of sculptures, installations and projections. This writer particularly loved French artist Soazic Guezennec Oxygen Therapy installation last year: a swirling collection of oxygen masks packed in two enclosures, which we interpreted as techno and house DJ’s sets rescuing an EDM-saturated scene.

In addition to the art and music, Bhavishyavani Future Soundz and the Magnanimous Group [they co-run the festival] have planned a “healthy” dance party on Sunday morning, including detox juices for those recovering [or still going] from the previous night, yoga sessions and more music. You can also check out the Eden Village, which the press release calls “a specially curated lifestyle flea market for the eclectic and quirky.”


Eden ArtFest takes place on November 14th– 15 at Tote on the Turf Mahalaxmi.


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