‘Its time has come to be a part of international tradition’: how Glastonbury champions south Asian music | Glastonbury 2023

Thursday evening at Glastonbury was pure brown pleasure. South Asians on the pageant’s Lonely Hearts Membership stage exchanged realizing appears of shock and elation as Sbtrkt closed his set with a observe not often heard exterior Spotify playlists: Jai Paul’s Str8 Outta Mumbai. The gang had barely settled from the excessive power tablas when London-based south Asian DJ Jyoty took the stage with banger after banger: a spotlight was listening to British Asian pop star Jay Sean, in addition to an Afrobeats mixture of basic Hindi hit Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein which she prefaced: “The place my brown individuals at?” One punter, Rahul, described it as “life-affirming”.

This was only the start of this yr’s south Asian providing, which has grown at Glastonbury previously couple of years to make the pageant one of many main champions of the British Asian dance underground. In 2022, there was an exhilarating takeover by dance music collective Daytimers and back-to-back units by Yung Singh, Ahadadream and Manara; the latter three featured on this yr’s lineup too, with a number of reveals.

DJ Bobby Friction, who has been bringing bhangra to the Somerset pageant since 1998, hosted a Going South takeover the place he platformed quite a few south Asian DJs, previous and new. When requested why this music appears to be having its second, Friction put it all the way down to international audiences embracing the sound, no matter language obstacles. “At my Glastonbury present this yr I got here out with the Bhangra singer Bee2, who was like Hendrix on the [single-string instrument] tumbi, a load of Punjabi dancers, and we had 1000’s of white individuals, who’ve most likely by no means heard bhangra, shedding their shit.” He continues: “I feel, like reggae, its time has come to be a part of international tradition.”

‘Its time has come to be a part of international tradition’: how Glastonbury champions south Asian music | Glastonbury 2023
‘Like Hendrix on the tumbi’ … Bee2 at Bobby Friction’s Bhangra All Stars efficiency on Glastonbury’s Reality stage. {Photograph}: Jim Dyson/Redferns

South Asian inventive motion Dialled In threw a secret social gathering within the Shangri-La space. Lit up with inexperienced lights, it was alive with their trademark concoction of sounds from the native and diaspora group, together with the south Asian underground: membership edits, R&B, Afrobeats, Punjabi storage, Bollywood samples and bassy techno. Dialled In group member Almass Badat stated she felt “completely elated and filled with inspiration” after the occasion. “To offer a sonic playground for DJs of south Asian heritage to play back-to-back created a second we’ve by no means skilled on this means earlier than. I really feel empowered to be given the programming area with full inventive belief,” she stated.

A newcomer to this yr’s lineup was DJ Priya, AKA “Thee Bass Baddie”. “I can’t describe my sound with out describing the power that I deliver after I play it, which – and I imply this humbly – is unmatched. Individuals have requested me if there are trampolines below the decks due to how a lot time I spend leaping round,” she stated. The DJ from Southall, London, was skilled by Jyoty, and had the Glastonbury crowds leaping together with her. Speaking in regards to the significance of south Asian illustration within the lineup, she stated: “For thus lengthy now we have been portrayed negatively within the media, we’ve been the butt of the joke, the unpopular children, or in case you did see anybody who was Asian in music, more often than not it will be a person.

“I not often noticed somebody that seemed or appeared like me, not simply in music however within the media generally. I made it my mission to point out up because the individual I wanted to see after I was youthful, and I’m so glad that different Asians are being booked and representing themselves, too. It’s not nearly ticking bins any extra, most of us are being recognised for our expertise.”

Banger after banger … Jyoty.
Banger after banger … Jyoty. {Photograph}: ©Filipa Aurélio

The Australian artist Surusinghe was additionally at Glastonbury this yr, taking part in 4 occasions throughout the pageant. She describes her sound as “numerous drums and bass however not drum’n’bass” and stresses the significance of the south Asian music group. “I owe all of it to artists similar to Ahadadream who’ve put me ahead for therefore many slots and alternatives. It’s so good to really feel supported by different south Asian artists – that’s what provides me the arrogance to continue to grow.”

This yr additionally noticed the primary south Asian meet-up which Friction organised by social media. Dozens of brown faces got here collectively below the Ribbon Tower, asking “Is that this the south Asian factor?” adopted by heat embraces and excitable chatter. Vinay, who’s 68, informed me how he first got here to Glastonbury in 1984 when entry value £13; 41-year-old Kirrin Punia, wearing a purple bodysuit, stated: “Once I hear south Asian music performed in golf equipment, it’s wonderful, it’s liberating, it’s like: ‘Welcome to my world’”.

Badat stated she hopes to see south Asian artists on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage – one thing that may very well be coming in 2024. Friction not too long ago had a gathering with Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis, and in his phrases: “She stated let’s do one thing large subsequent yr.” Wanting on the joyful faces of all ethnicities through the weekend’s south Asian DJ units, it’s clear that there’s the viewers for it.


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