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Karsh Kale to produce Chinese pop star Sa Dingding

Kale’s wide body of work is taking him to China, where he will help one of the country’s leading singers explore new horizons in her next album

Rolling Stone India Feb 18, 2015
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Karsh Kale | Photo Credit: Anja Matthes

Karsh Kale | Photo Credit: Anja Matthes

Late last year electro-fusion producer and multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale got a call from Universal Music China saying that one of their pop artists was a big fan, and had requested he produce her next album. “At first I was hesitant when I heard Chinese pop, but when I found out who Sa Dingding was and checked out what she had done, I became excited.”

Kale who has collaborated with a variety of musicians from around the world, has never worked with a Chinese artist before. “This seemed like a fun challenge. After realizing that she too is part traditionalist and part futurist, the possibilities became very intriguing for me as a producer,” adds the producer.

Sa Dingding who has been described as the Asian Bjork by the British newspaper The Times [although the label has been debated on several other music websites], has interests in electronica, pop and folk music from Tibet and Mongolia. She sings in Mandarin, Sanskrit and Tibetan, and her last album Harmony featured a remix by the British trance music pioneer DJ Paul Oakenfold. Says Kale, “I know she wants to explore a bit of the world that I have existed in, using Indian classical instrumentation in contemporary electronic contexts. Hopefully, together, we will arrive at a new musical place for both of us.”

Sa DIngding | Photo Credit: Universal Music Productions

Sa Dingding | Photo Credit: Universal Music Productions

Kale describes Dingding’s music to be “ethereal and sometimes spiritual as she sings in multiple languages and evokes both the modern and traditional in her vocal styles.” Dingding, who won the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in 2008, has performed at world music festivals like WOMAD and Harrogate Festival.

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Speaking about how this album will be different from his previous works, Kale says, “For one, it will be a Sa Dingding album. I am stepping into this project much more as a producer than as a musician. I will, as I do on all my albums, play multiple instruments and inform the music as much as possible as an artist, but the final product and goal is to create a frame for Sa’s artistry to shine. My job is to get the best out of her and create music that best suits the direction she is heading in next. My artist hat takes a back seat in this case. I am, none the less, just as excited.”

The as yet untitled album is slated to release this June. While possible collaborators are yet to be decided, Kale says he is also in discussion with her for joint performances.

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