Varun Doshi, Kiss Nuka at Magnetic Fields.
Varun Doshi, Kiss Nuka at Magnetic Fields.File Photo

Kiss Nuka electrifies Glastonbury with environmental message, electronic beats

“The festival is known for its epic line-ups and diverse sounds. Music lovers brave the harshest rains and the muckiest muck to be there.

Anushka Manchanda is a force of nature. From Indie pop to Bollywood playback singing and now in a new iteration as an electronic music artiste, the musician, actor and cinematographer, she has been there and done it all. Having christened herself Kiss Nuka (acronym for Nature’s Universal Kinetic Ascension) in 2018, her recent adventure, debuting at the Greenpeace Field stage at the iconic Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK was in itself an adventure. Says Nuka,

“The festival is known for its epic line-ups and diverse sounds. Music lovers brave the harshest rains and the muckiest muck to be there. The Greenpeace field is a frontrunner in spreading environmental awareness since artistes like Sinead O’Connor and Kate Tempest performing there.”

Kiss Nuka’s 60-minute electronic dance floor set at the festival comprised arresting visuals. “Samples from some of my released music such as The Seed, Harvest, Serpentine, Trouble in Paradise, blended with my collection of programmed kicks, percussion sounds, and atmospheric elements, together made up a visual set that was built from all the footage I have shot over the years,” says Nuka, who even travelled to Dubspot in New York to learn Logic, the music-making software.

Initially she did dabble in playback singing, but she says it restricted her creative freedom. “I come from rock and roll, drum and bass; Indipop and Bollywood were happy accidents,” says the artiste, who grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Santana and Jimi Hendrix. “My first taste of electronic music was The Prodigy, and the first time I heard drum and bass was Apollo 440. These set the tone for the music I wanted to create,” says the trained pianist.

Jofre Oliveras, Kiss Nuka
Jofre Oliveras, Kiss NukaFile Photo

A “voracious reader”, her imagination and ideas have roots in the books she read as a child. “I would steal books from my mother’s collection. The earliest books I remember are Roots, Fountainhead, Little Women, Wuthering Heights and The God of Small Things. I read all of Enid Blyton and then Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Robin Cook, Dan Brown, and Paulo Coelho. The narrative arc in my videos comes from there,” she confesses.

She hopes someday the government would give grants to promising musical talent not just across traditional classical and folk styles, but “across genres that are brimming with promise”. “Although there is immense talent in India, there is a lack of resources and infrastructure.

When it comes to electronic music, we have barely any club-based, music-centered venues. Many venues aren’t built for gigs, and the quality of sound suffers,” she rues. Maybe someday there would be a Glastonbury in India that would answer Nuka’s concerns.

The New Indian Express