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Ladakh Artist Ruhail Qaisar Set for Virtual Collaboration At Berlin’s CTM Festival

The left-field artist previously performing under the moniker SISTER is part of the MusicMakers Hacklab alongside nine other participants

Anurag Tagat Jan 30, 2021

Ladakh artist Ruhail Qaisar

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In the world of power electronics, ambient recordings and harsh noise, Ruhail Qaisar has been at it since 2016, under the moniker SISTER and recently using his own name as a musician. The pandemic, however, hit left-field artists like Qaisar even harder. He moved from New Delhi back to Ladakh in June last year. “I definitely had entered a limbo, and other event companies who are streaming pre-recorded performances in the country were definitely more interested in the appeal of commercial and privileged artists,” he says.

In this period, Qaisar was part of Hong Kong Community Radio for a residency called The Hounds of Pamir, adding 60-minute live compositions which drew from the pandemic situation, sub-zero climes and travel journals. “Slowly my discipline transformed more towards working with synthesis, field recordings and sound design rather than playing the same improvised noise set ad-infinitum,” he says. 

While things still remain uncertain in terms of his future as a musician, applying to the CTM Festival in Berlin was a “shot in the dark” but proved encouraging for Qaisar, who’s now set to perform (albeit virtually) as part of the MusicMakers Hacklab on January 31st. “It came as a big surprise that I had been selected from amongst 160 applicants to participate in the MusicMakers Hacklab, which is a week-long intensive multidisciplinary collaboration amongst artists, musicians, coders, dancers etc.” 

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With an overarching theme of transformation for the festival’s pandemic edition, Qaisar joins nine other artists across time zones and geographies, including Sri Lankan-born London-based producer My Panda Shall Fly aka Suren Seneviratne, Brazil-origin sound and code artist Bruno Gola, Paris-based Mamady Diarra aka AFALFL and more. CTM Festival describes the performance, dubbed “Off The Fovea,” as one that “might include live coding, virtual spaces, puppetry and object theater, transmitted musical events, radio, data, dance, photography and video, robotics, singing. We can employ VR, AR/xR, OSC, DMX, MIDI, chatrooms, semaphores, gestures, smoke signals.” 

Qaisar says it’s the first time he’s performing virtually but he’s got help at hand from fellow participants and mentors — U.S./Germany artists Peter Kirn and Olivia Jack. “It felt really amazing to feel the basic process of offering a germ of an idea, allowing it to bounce, and see it slowly snowball and morph into something else, which almost became an alien phenomenon to me since the pandemic started,” he adds.

Tune in to the MusicMakers Hacklab performance at CTM Festival on January 31st, 10:30 PM IST below. Get more details here.

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