Live music festivals are slowly making a comeback. Varanasi hosted Mahindra Kabira Festival — which celebrated the philosophy of poet Kabir — last week and, on the other end of the spectrum, electronic mainstay, Sunburn, will host a year-ender in Goa starting December 27. But that’s not to say digital festivals are winding up.
Sadhana Rao has curated the concerts at Bengaluru’s Museum of Art & Photography’s ‘Art is Life: SoundFrames’. While she admits some fatigue may seep in with digital events, a steady audience will remain. “Virtual festivals and stages are an important landmark in the ‘creator economy’. They will definitely plant its roots and, like most stages, evolve and add new features.”
The festival features Grammy winner Ricky Kej, vocal quartet Women of the World, fusion act SubraMania, and producer Sandunes aka Sanaya Ardeshir. Among the highlights are pre-recorded performances by Kabir Café and a rare collaboration between producer-vocalist mother-son duo Kanishk Seth and Kavita Seth. Also on the billing are Rajasthani artists Bhugra Khan Manganiar, Tamil rapper Mc Artslord and more.
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Rao says the focus is on compositions that have stood the test of time, contemporary interpretations of traditional music, and the inherent connection to visual art. “The artists have chosen compositions that lend themselves to and draw parallels with the visual arts. Some sessions are directly crafted where the two art forms merge,” she says.
While artists like Sandunes will also be part of a panel discussion about DJing, storyteller/musician Raman Iyer is joined by hand pan artist Nithin M Menon for a journeying performance. Kej, for his part, has also crafted a journeying presentation of music across geographies and genres with his piece, titled ‘Bursts of Sound’.
Call of the virtual
“It was an epic virtual collaboration,” says Kej. “It was a lot of fun recording musicians outside the studio — capturing their natural sounds within their natural habitat and allowing sounds of their worlds to become part of the performance.”
Kabir Café will be following the more standard route of performing — imparting the philosophy of saint-poet Kabir through their music remains at the centre. “What can be expected is a mix of slow and fast folk-fusion,” says frontman Neeraj Arya. Rao adds that Kabir Café’s performance will be aired on the same day that they perform at a live event in Kolkata. It points towards the reality that hybrid, digital and physical concerts will have their steady set of followers and stakeholders. “This ‘different’ audience [at Art is Life] made us think a lot of the presentation of the songs that would fit into the vast canvas of this eclectic mix of artists from different spheres of art. Having consulted with the organisers, we were able to deliver the right touch to make a beautiful yet powerful performance.”
Like most live bands, Kabir Café were keen to get on stage after missing out for nearly two years. But Arya says they are happy to leverage their digital footprint, too, as they prep to release their upcoming album SABR in a piecemeal fashion. “We are able to reach out to audiences otherwise thought impossible because of the restrictions of space and time,” he concludes.
From December 3-5. Register to attend on artislife.events.