Delhi duo Avinash Kumar and Gaurav Malaker make up B.L.O.T!, and are in the city to release SNAFU, their debut album. The audio-visual duo tell Neha Mujumdar their work thrives on spontaneity
The debut album of Delhi-based audio-visual duo B.L.O.T (that’s Basic Love Of Things) is called SNAFU (a military abbreviation that conveys the rapid deterioration of a situation). “It comes from the way we operate,” said Avinash Kumar, the visual half of the duo, over phone. “We keep going into some random situation or the other. It represents that at some level.”
The album, the duo’s first in five years in the dance music business, includes collaborations with artists from Peter Cat Recording Company and Adil and Vasundhara. “I’ve collaborated with the people I wanted to collaborate with,” said DJ Gaurav Malaker, adding that he’d love to collaborate with “someone really big, like Prodigy”, but that skill-sets shouldn’t be too far apart. “Then it’s not collaboration – I’m just hanging out.”
Before the album, the two have performed several times at nightclubs in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, besides in other countries. Indeed, they’re known for their live shows, especially because they add live visuals to a club evening. And Kumar considers himself a “Visual Jockey” (VJ), analogous to the Disc Jockey formulation.
Besides some basic preparation, nothing is pre-fixed, said Kumar. “The process of putting it together happens at the gig. It is instinctive, more than anything else. If you VJ a lot, you stop trying to tell stories… you’re playing with colour and light.” Malaker concurs, adding that they “never rehearse,” focusing instead on new content and “surprises”.
How might this process change in the transition from live gig to recorded album? The environment of their live gigs is lost, Kumar agreed. “An album flattens it out.” To circumvent this, they have plans for a DVD in the offing. In terms of the music itself, they’ve tried to recreate the live sound by actually using live vocals, drums and synthesisers, Malaker said.
Earlier, the imagery tended towards “kitschy, street art,” Kumar reminisced. Of late, Kumar’s images – most are archived on their blog – have taken a decided turn towards gargantuan, monstrous images. He attributes this to a recent visit to Florence, and his exposure to the ‘grottesca’ style of frescos. And while he admits that as a child he would return home with drawings of graveyards, he says there’s “no deeper dark meaning” to be attributed to his visual choices. “It’s just a visual to enjoy.”
Malaker said the time was ripe for an album, after five or so years in the business. “When we started out, our skills weren’t as polished as are now – now we’ve honed, developed them. Now we’re confident with what we’re doing. “