Interview: Expat techno artiste Ash Roy on his new EP, and the rise of Indian electronica
Ash Roy opens up about his new EP, the '90s Kolkata underground dance music scene, and more
It was in 2004 when Kolkata boy Ash Roy co-founded the first-of-its-kind, trailblazing electronica/techno outfit Jalebee Cartel, which almost single-handedly put India on the global underground dance music scene. Almost a decade later, the Berlin-based artiste came up with his own label Soupherb Records, which was conceived as a platform for upcoming experimental music producers.
As the indie scene grew, so did Ash’s relevance as a truly global change-maker in underground music, be it in Bengal or Burning Man. Ash’s newest 3-track EP Triptower, which is a collaboration with techno artiste 8-Bit Culprit, came out this month, and was conceived in Kolkata; Ash just performed his newest set list at TopCat CCU a few days back. We caught up with the DJ right after his homecoming performance.
Tell us a little about your upcoming new 'Tripwtower'
The idea of producing Triptower came about when 8-Bit Culprit and I were performing at a gig in Kolkata last year. We experimented a lot with different ideas and finally got what we wanted. Both of us have our own influences on the tracks, so if you listen close, it has a little melodic influence, plus the acid and trippy psychedelic vibe with running bass lines. All three tracks have a different flavour, but are bound together to fit into the EP.
How has your approach to techno/ dance music changed in the last 15 years ?
Initially, I was focused on Jalebee Cartel and our sound was absolutely different. Live techno infused with live vocals and percussion, I used to produce keeping the band in mind. In 2013 I launched Soupherb Records with my friend Ashvin aka Calm Chor since it was time to concentrate on our solo careers. That's when my sound changed and it kept evolving. Nowadays my productions are all techno with trippy psychedelic influences and acid synth lines.
You've performed extensively over the world. How differently is live electronica perceived in India, as compared to other countries?
Back when I started DJing, the audience was really small here. While I was a resident DJ in Kolkata back in 1996, I had to play everything, but I used to give an hour to progressive house to educate the audience. Over the years, because of the Internet, the vibe has completely changed in India. People know their music, they go out to clubs for the music and the artiste. That's why, now we have so many electronic music festivals.
There was a point when people would only go out to listen to international house & techno acts but now people step out for local Indian acts and that is just spectacular! As of now India is one of the biggest hubs for electronic / techno music in Asia and this is just the beginning.
Electronic music in India is in a very interesting space right now. Do you enjoy it as a performer
Right now electronic music in India is on an all-time high. There are so many gigs happening in every city, it's just insane. The amount of international artistes touring India is unbelievable. I've been living in Berlin since 2016 and every artiste I meet wants to play here. I love performing in my homeland, it's the energy and vibe that's really special. The musicians, DJ festivals, the venues, bookers and promoters are pushing electronic music in every possible way.
I don't think we need anything more for it to grow; if we get the support from our government like in Berlin and Amsterdam then it would be ideal. I think we should just let it flow naturally and it will grow on its own