Back in London and back to work! India however, seemed to be following me – my first show was mixing FOH for the BBC Radio Asian Network new music tent at the London Mela festival in Gunnersbury Park. http://www.londonmela.org
Stuck behind the PA and the stage I could hear sweet fa but it was largely DJs, MCs and singers and not the most complicated of shows, so it all worked out with a bit of crafty headphones mixing and plenty of running round the front and over the barriers to have a quick listen to the PA, before battling my way back through a sea of dancing bodies to (back)FOH.
It was surreal. The DJs were spinning all the tunes I had heard played to death back in Mumbai – I knew all the words to a few and couldn’t help but sing along in bad Hindi -much to the bemusement of some of the artists hanging around the stage wings. Listening to this music, if I hadn’t felt so cold I could quite easily have imagined that I was back in India and it was a regular day at work. However, if the freezing weather didn’t give it away, the strong London accents of many of the artists did. I was chatting to a couple of hangers around (girlfriends? groupies?) who found my rendition of ‘Aaj blue hai pani pani sunny sunny’ particularly hilarious. While their parents were from India, they had grown up in London and couldn’t speak any Hindi at all. I asked them if they had any plans to visit India and see their family that lived there and the beautiful country their parents had grown up in? One said she didn’t want to as she heard you can get really sick from the food and water there, the other said maybe Goa one day for the parties and beaches – and why was I wearing so many clothes, how could I be cold – was I ill or something? Definitely feeling surreal.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder a gorgeous blond wearing a stunning white salwar dress comes and asks me for a microphone in a Welsh accent. She was joined by a rather handsome sikh guy also dressed rather smartly. I could tell this act was a bit different from the camouflage clad urban/bollywood/bhangra/hip-hop crew we’d had throughout the day. She stepped onto the stage and began singing in perfect Punjabi – my jaw dropped to the floor (and my eyes maybe turned a deeper shade of green!) Her voice was as incredible as her accent – and she looked so young! I looked her up and she is called Nesdi Jones – you can read her story band hear a radio interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-29571881
Other highlights of the show were Lost Souljah – a tiny little female rapper with a big voice, who totally kept her cool when halfway through the show the generator packed up and all power was down for what seemed like forever, and the nice guys from the BBC who showed me all their toys in their recording truck and were a pleasure as always to work with. The Noise Control Audio PA system sounded pretty nice as well! There is such an awesome scene for Asian and fusion music in the UK – some artists occasionally make it into the charts and have big hits- Punjabi MC, Asian Dub Foundation and Cornershop are a few that spring to mind that I love (though maybe I’m showing my age here!). I hope next Mela I see a few of the urban Indian artists I discovered back there make it over to the UK – Reggae Rajahs and Low Rhyderz are two names that spring to mind…..