BENGALURU: Thinking of a prominent figure in defining the Asian Underground genre will lead you to Karsh Kale, a name that stands out through his mixing of disparate genres of music. The 45-year-old tabla fusion maestro, who was in Bengaluru for a solo set, spoke to CE on the four-track EP, Little Whale (2019), which came after a three-year hiatus. The EP also features singer-songwriter Ankur Tewari and Gaurav Raina of Midival Punditz. Kale states the sonic landscape created for the EP was originally a mock-up for a film score planned alongside Raina. “The film project never happened so we called Tewari to come in and help finish an EP that we all found interesting,” added Kale.
While work on the project had commenced in 2015, it ended up taking a back seat and just sat on for a while until its release in January 2019. The release was followed by the background score duties for the Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, which featured his eclectic sounds. Ask Kale on what the hiatus comprised, he said, “Those three years were filled with a bunch of touring and film and television work.
Prior to Gully Boy, I had scored the 11-episode drama called Smoke. 2020 will see the release of Choked, a feature film by Anurag Kashyup, which I have scored and produced songs for. I have also done some music for a documentary on the Beatles, which will be released this year. There is also a documentary about my life in music called Rock Disco Tabla, which will be screened at select venues around the world. I’ll also be working on a new album and a few collaborations throughout the year.”
Considered as one of the pioneering figures in the Asian Underground genre, Kale is always looking for something else. “Not simply conceptually, but what else can I do? I am far more inspired to try something that hasn’t been done or done well rather than something that obviously works,” he said.
Kale further reflected on the Independent music scene in the country stating that it grows and shrinks as all scenes and further added his take on favouritism in the industry. “The scene is growing and shrinking as all scenes do and obviously giving favouritism and almost milking the flavour of the moment much like had been happening in Bollywood. Any scene where the bottom line is profit and is funded by corporations will never grow organically because art for the sake of art is not the final goal. We will never see the best of what art has to offer till that is the reason we make it,” he said.