Taken from The Hindu (Mar 10, 2017)
Drop the beat with Karsh Kale
Karsh Kaleâ€™s DJ tour takes him back to the stage, where it all began
by LAVANYA NARAYANAN
It has been four years since Karsh Kale wore his DJ hat. Heâ€™s been busy, of course, jet-setting from studio to studio, recording for too many projects to keep track of. As he gears up for his upcoming tour, he canâ€™t help but reminisce about the time he brought independent music to the Indian stage.
â€śWhen I started back in 1999, this is all I was doing. Bringing Indian classical music into the electronic space was my focus back then,â€ť says the composer-tabla player-drummer-producer-DJ who performs at The Leather Bar today.
Things have changed drastically since then, and time has seen Kale collaborate with the best of both East and West. Heâ€™s recorded with the likes of AR Rahman, joined hands with Benny Dayal, been part of the highly popular Coke Studio series, and released seven albums.
â€śWhen I was growing up, every new thing seemed cutting-edge. I felt like I was adding fuel to the creative fire and I focused on a particular style, as you should when you start out.â€ť A myriad of influences for the UK-born, New York-bred musician helped expand his horizons, leading him to Zakir Hussain, Alicia Keys, Anoushka Shankar, and a host of others. â€śNow, Iâ€™m a much bigger part of a larger fraternity of music. Itâ€™s about the music now, not the surroundings.â€ť
Thereâ€™s a creative movement, he says, and as he reflects on over 20 years in the industry, the novel discoveries are what keep him inspired today. â€śI can sit down and hear an old Johnny Cash or Frank Sinatra song now â€“ itâ€™ll lead me to something completely new.â€ť
Of course, he never meant to set trends, and yet, his fan following is ridiculously loyal. Ask him how, and he says the secret is simple. â€śFor me, staying relevant has always been about being honest. The trends have been shifting ever since my first album, but luckily, I had a host of senior industry members encouraging me. I chose to ride the wave and be true to my musical sensibilities.â€ť
In Chennai, where heâ€™s recorded and visited a multitude of times, heâ€™s welcomed with open arms. â€śThe city has always treated me well, and the musicians are some of the freest people, ever-evolving.â€ť Revisiting the stage here, as both a DJ and tabla artiste, has Kale excited. â€śThe tour is a throwback to where I came from. Itâ€™s home ground.â€ť