This weekend (December 18-20), Magnetic Fields will descend upon Alsisar Mahal, a majestic hotel in Rajasthan, India that once served as a 17th century military fort. Bringing together local heroes and international stars, the festival has become one of the country's biggest musical highlights, known for its eclectic and underground-leaning programming.
This time around, headliners like Ratatat, DJ Koze, Shigeto, Mumdance, Objekt, and many others will light up the starry desert nights. On the home front, Forever South and Consolidate—two pivotal labels from Pakistan and India—will kick things off on the first night at a secret party presented by THUMP and Border Movement.
This party will be the first time electronic musicians from the two South Asian nations will go head to head at the festival—a significant milestone due to the political and cultural history between India and Pakistan. The nations have fought three wars over the disputed Kashmir region since 1947, and both sides have accused the other of terrorism. Political hostility has sometimes spilled into cultural affairs, and in October this year, celebrated Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali had two scheduled concerts in India cancelled after a local Hindu right-wing party protested the events. The restrictions on touring musicians between India and Pakistan still remains an uncomfortable experience, involving reporting to police stations on arrival and constant travel updates henceforth.
To find out more about Consolidate and FXS ahead of this special show, we talked to label founders Rudoh and _RHL on how things came together for both crews.
THUMP: What does your collective represent?
Rudoh: Forever South is something my buddy Haamid Rahim (Dynoman) and I started few years ago. It's a collective of like-minded musicians and producers who got together to explore music. We release music often and every now and then we'd organize a show in Karachi.
_RHL: Consolidate is a mix series, a loose collective of artists mostly based out of Bangalore, and maybe a blog to a certain extent. We also ran a gig series at The Humming Tree for a while. 2016 will see Consolidate functioning as a record label with the release of Aniruddh S Menon's debut full length.
Rahul Giri AKA _RHL
How did you guys get started?
Rudoh: We had this label called Karachi Detour Rampage (KDR) before Forever South. We had one show and few releases under KDR and soon it fizzled out. Then Dyno got in touch with me after a few months and said we should continue doing this under a different name. From then onwards, we've just been pushing this forward and growing into even a bigger collective.
_RHL: The idea behind Consolidate was to create a space where fringe electronic music not necessarily geared towards the dancefloor (within the Indian context) could thrive. It started off with the most basic idea of sharing music online. Then came the mix series. Then some gigs... now a record label.
What has been your favorite thing that you guys have done this year?
Rudoh: Our biggest achievement for this year was a residency we helped organize in conjunction with the Teichmann Brothers and Goethe Institute, Karachi. We hosted a three-weeks-long residency in a house in Karachi, where we invited six Germans, six Pakistanis and one person from Maldives to make music together. At the moment we have those tracks being mastered and are planning a release date for them.
_RHL: EPs from Machli, Aniruddh, and Worm's Cottage. I also love Sandhya's (Machli) project Pardafash. Although she hasn't put out anything officially you can hear a couple of tracks on the Consolidate mixtape 10.
Bilal Khan AKA Rudoh
How would you describe your sound in three words?
Rudoh: Squelchy, bassy, dreampads
_RHL:The strongest influence would be hip-hop and beat culture—that is what is at the core—but it's not imitative, more in the lines of appropriation I guess. Same with Bollywood, especially if you look at Machli, Anirudhh, and Pardafash. There is footwork and trip-hop as well.
Magnetic Fields will be the first time that an Indian and Pakistani collective is playing together at the festival. Why is this important?
Rudoh: We don't have too many cross-border activities, I feel just the fact we're coming there to play is a big deal for us, and then having us play with a collective that similar to us is even a bigger deal. So yeah, I'm super stoked about this gig!
_RHL:First of all, both the collectives represent sounds that generally won't make it into your regular clubbing, festival circuit, so it's really cool that Magnetic Fields, Border Movement, and THUMP are making that possible. Especially given the state of the country right now where hyper-nationalism is at its peak, and art and cultural exchange between India and Pakistan is suffering a great deal, this Consolidate versus Forever South party makes for a great statement. It's basically a "fuck you" to all the self-appointed regulators and protectors of the country—AKA thugs—and the indifferent government. I think cultural exchange is key in terms of the diffusion of inter-state political tension/conflict and finding solutions to the problem that exists. I am really glad to be a part of it.
What will your set at Magnetic Fields be like?
Rudoh: I'm going with the heavier side of things coming from labels like Brainfeeder, Alpha Pub, and Soulection. Trying to some bass heavy, hard hitting beats.
_RHL:Hip-hop, Footwork and footwork-inspired halfstep Dnb maybe.
Get your tickets to Magnetic Fields here.