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REGGAE IN INDIA: THE JAMAICAN TOUCH!


From The Indian Express—

Performances by international acts and the inclusion of reggae into the sound of Indian bands is giving the genre the attention it has lacked for years in the country

Until not very long ago, when one talked about reggae music, the average Indian fan would only think of Bob Marley or Apache Indian. The genre, which is said to have its beginnings on the island of Jamaica in the 1960s, became hugely popular around the world in the next decade as Bob Marley and his band, Bob Marley and the Wailers, released one hit single after the other. Not longer after, Marley became the face of reggae music the world over. And as hippies descended on Goa, they brought this relatively new music with them to India.

Bob Marley

Yet, until the end of the first decade of 2000, there were precious few Indian DJs playing reggae in clubs and elsewhere in the country, and no reggae bands to speak of at all. In 2009, three Delhi-based musicians — Raghav Dang aka Diggy Dang, Mohammed Abood aka DJ MoCity and Zorawar Shukla aka Mr Herbalist — met at a Bob Marley tribute gig in Delhi. The meeting subsequently led to the formation of India’s first reggae soundsystem — Reggae Rajahs.

That it took so long for Indian audiences to warm up to the genre, Dang attributes to the fact that reggae isn’t necessarily associated with dancing. “The primary reason is that Indians love to dance and reggae music isn’t always equated with dance music,” he says. This is not the case abroad and one can see people swaying and bobbing their heads to roots and dub music. “In addition, you have music such as dancehall, which is the closest reggae gets to club music,” he adds. But Dang believes that the perception of the genre will change in India too, as it finds the right audience.

Since their formation, Reggae Rajahs have become recognised as pioneers of reggae in India, hugely responsible for spreading interest among the Indian audience. This also reflects in the number of international reggae acts that have played here, while some more will, during the course of this month. “The reggae scene in the country has come a long way in the last few years. We have put a lot into spreading the music across India and to see artistes such as Dub Inc, Million Stylez and Julian Marley being brought down this year is very satisfying because that means there is now a demand for reggae,” says Dang.

These bands, too, haven’t failed to notice the potential for reggae in the country. “We had the pleasure of meeting the Reggae Rajahs, who are really good artists,” says Zigo, the drummer of French reggae outfit Dub Inc.. “We are going to collaborate with them and hope we can bring them to France for some shows with us,” he adds.

Reggae RaJahs

Around the world, the impact of the genre has seen it influence everyone from pop to rock to electronic musicians. “What I’ve seen after 14 years of touring around the world is that reggae music finds its place in every situation. From mainstream music festivals to rock events, reggae can always be well received,” says Zigo. This was recently witnessed in India where the Weekender festival has come to have a Dub Station stage that hosts primarily reggae, dub, dubstep and dancehall acts.

The Delhi-based act continues to be the best-known reggae outfit in India, but others have begun experimenting with the genre. Hyderabad-based DJ Dakta Dub aka Bala Subramanyam, Delhi-based band Ska Vengers and Mumbai-based Bombay Bassment are some such acts. But in all likelihood, it will take a few more years for the genre to be as well represented as others, by which time Reggae Rajahs hope to be able to have a reggae festival in the country. “It’s been a great year for reggae in India,” says Dang.

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