Sarathy Korwar on India Shows: ‘Expect Some Loud, Heavy, Punk Jazz!’
The London-based drummer, percussionist and producer talks about his recently released album ‘More Arriving’
One of the most assertive collection of songs about the Indian identity released this year come courtesy of US-born, London-based percussionist, drummer and producer Sarathy Korwar. On his latest album More Arriving, which released in July, Korwar taps into the energy of MCs like Prabh Deep, Delhi Sultanate and Mawali from hip-hop crew Swadesi for powerful storytelling.
On songs like “Coolie” and “Mumbay,” there’s one part of Korwar – who was raised in different parts of India – that’s covered. From thereon, More Arriving takes on a psychedelic jazz fusion of spoken word by Bangladesh-origin poet Zia Ahmed (“Bol,” “Mango”), searing yet succinct ruminations from Mumbai rapper Trap Poju (“City of Words”) and more. He said in a press statement about the sound of the eight-track album, “This is what Indian music sounds like to me right now, and that means incorporating multiple brown voices. If anyone has a problem with that, they should be questioning what they think Indian music should be.”
About three months after its release, it’s safe to say that Korwar and his collaborators – Danalogue on synths (from U.K. psych/jazz band The Comet Is Coming), saxophonist Tamar Osborn and pianist Al MacSween – have had a well-received album so far from within and outside India. Korwar says, “I wasn’t anxious about how the record would be received in India because I think it represents a modern young Indian voice as much as a global South Asian one.”
After releasing “Mumbay” with a music video earlier this year, the video for “Bol” featuring Zia Ahmed and classical/fusion vocalist Aditya Prakash came out portraying “a South Asian person trying laughably hard to integrate into to a stereotype of British society (and failing),” as Korwar puts it. The artist conceptualized the video’s narrative alongside filmmaker David Higgs. Korwar adds, “Flipping the narrative around in the video was something I wanted to play with. Some of my favorite sketch shows like Goodness Gracious Me in the Nineties used this technique so effectively.”
With a brief tour underway in the U.K. and Europe, Korwar will bring More Arriving to India later this week, performing at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Meghalaya on November 2nd. Previously in New Delhi for a set at Boxout Weekender in April, there’ll be another performance at Echoes of Earth festival in Bengaluru on December 7th. Korwar says about India plans, “The live lineup is going to be myself on drums, and two other musicians from the U.K. on sax and synths. We will be working with local MCs wherever we go, so expect some loud, heavy, punk jazz! We’re going to try and do the shows exactly the way we do them in the U.K./Europe, bringing the same intensity and energy that I associate jazz with here in London, to India.”
Watch the video for “Bol” below. Stream the album here.