Indian Summer

The guru of Basement Bhangra celebrates 10 (or nine) years on the job

In the late '90s the East Asian scene seemed like it was going to blow up with Talvin Singh and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. What happened?

It's like electroclash. Everyone's excited, people hype this moment, the press gets behind it, the tastemakers get behind it, people buy it a little bit. Bhangra has a long history of this happening. Poor Bhangra music in England for the past 20 years has been the next thing and then almost not, the next thing and then almost not, next, almost not, back and forth and back and forth . . .

It's like when drum 'n' bass tried to merge with hip-hop to go mainstream.

Steadily less shocking in her Indian-ness
Steadily less shocking in her Indian-ness

It's gotta be organic. It's very hard to force those things. The success of it all used to be more surprising, the whole success of Indian-ness as a cultural phenomena, everything from Deepak Chopra to yoga to this music. It's not a spike. It's more integrated, in subtle ways. Like before it would be a big deal if you saw anything Indian anywhere. And now, it's like, 'Oh, big deal. They're playing some lounge track in a bar.' Or 'Big deal, there's an Indian character on that reality show,' America's Next Top Model or whatever. It's not as much of a shock. I think that just means that we're here to stay.

Research Assistance: Elizabeth Thompson

Catch DJ Rekha at a special Basement Bhangra Thursday, August 17, SOB's, 200 Varick Street.

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