Karsh Kale talks about how independent music is gaining momentum in the country
“For people to be able to make choices, they need to have choices,” Karsh Kale asserts as he talks from the sidelines of the launch of MTV Indie, Viacom 18’s newest addition to its list of music channels, being the first of many doorways yet to be walked through. The Indian-American musician, considered one of the pioneers of the ‘Asian Underground’ – fusion that evolved from mixing electronic music with Indian ragas – feels that Indie music in India is not as widespread as one would hope not because of the ‘different’ musical sensibility it represents but because of a lack of exposure and accessibility.
“You need YouTube right now to listen to Indie because radio stations don’t play it and this channel is the first of its kind being set up only now,” he says and adds that having access to a more varied display of independent music not only introduces one to fusion but also to the individual genres that are brought together in it. “For example, in the early 90s there were only mainstream hits being played everywhere in the States, then along came Nirvana and different genres of music were mixed. When the Indie movement came into its own and took over the entire music industry there, individual genres began to become more visible: Hip-Hop music and Punk became popular and then the Heavy Metal movement happened,” he explains, hoping that similar momentum is gained here as well.Bollywood fusion
The composer, producer, live performer and DJ has also worked on soundtracks for films. “Bollywood is fusion in its own way but I find it restricting to work within someone else’s vision. Some musicians are very good musicians, can make all kinds of music and are therefore much more suited to make music for films. For me, I love film music but I would much rather work on my own brief than someone else’s. I have my own ideas for what I want to do with my music and I’m much more comfortable in my own environment doing my own thing,” he says.
His experience with films has fed into the music he has gone on to make and ‘Cinema’, an album often referred to as his most ambitious, stands testimony, having derived inspiration from his experience of composing for movie soundtracks. “Everything I have done has been an influence on my music and has added to the sounds that come to me when I make it. The form it takes is also influenced by what I’m going through at that point in time, what I’m thinking, as well as where I am. Over the last 20 years I’ve been travelling all over, in India, in the States, all across the world...and that has been a huge part of the inspiration for my sounds and my music,” he signs off.