New York-based musician and producer, Karsh Kale is all set to launch a five-city tour with the release of his fifth studio album, UP, on January 29. He is known for his dynamic acts on the stage, both in India and abroad. As an artist, he successfully straddles the worlds of classical and modern music, fusing West and East into a sound that’s distinctly his own.
The album features guitarist Warren Mendonsa, singers Benny Dayal, Ankur Tewari, long-time collaborators like flautist Ajay Prasanna and producer Grain among others. Kale has in the past also collaborated with international icons such as Sting, Herbie Hancock, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones to name a few. From playing at music festivals around the world to performing at the White House, Karsh has helped curate a sub-culture of music that continues to influence an entire generation.
In his new album, UP which chronicles the myriad transformations he underwent as an artist while constantly reinventing yet remaining steadfast to his sound. In the 11-track album, Karsh goes back to his roots, to the music that inspired him to become a musician.
His last release, Cinema (2011) came out during the emergence of the indie scene and that propelled Karsh into the centre of what was to become India’s indie revolution. As Karsh continued to divide his time between Brooklyn (where he is an established musician) and Mumbai (where he was hosting TV shows and headlining festivals). The constant friction of the two worlds gave him the idea of the album UP.
“Within the stresses of constantly commuting between two very different worlds, I found the sound and the inspiration for what UP was going to be about,” says Karsh about his new album. “The album is the soundtrack of these moments, the rising and falling, the flying and crashing and the transformations of self that became almost a weekly affair for me. As an artist I was not trying to simply do the same thing over and over, but rather, each trip called upon a new transformation. I was performing live at festivals as well as performing at classical fusion concerts, performing and collaborating on TV shows and dropping the occasional DJ set which makes for some ever changing environments, inspirations and collaborators,” he adds.
The music on UP encapsulates his philosophy towards making music – not bound by a genre – and making music with those who share his vision. The end result is not only reflective and contemplative but also atmospheric. For the album, Karsh went back to his musical influences – like Shakti and Led Zeppelin while focusing on music that transcends boundaries and creates doorways between styles, cultures and music as opposed to fit snuggly into a particular genre.
“Within the stresses of constantly commuting between two very different worlds, I found the sound and the inspiration for UP.”
“My goal with the album was to try and encompass all that I had been doing as an artist over the past few years into one thematic journey. In the end the idea of genre and keeping one in mind while creating has always proven to be detrimental to me as I realized that I simply should stick to my guns and make music that truly inspires me,” Karsh explains the rationale behind the album.
Mendonsa’s guitar perfectly complements Karsh’s signature tabla. A good example of which is the title track, Up. One of the most distinctive tracks on the album is Play, a song by Chinese pop sensation Sa Ding Ding, who sings in Mandarin. It’s the most electronic, experimental cut on this record, and features a different mix of the track from her album Butterfly Dream, the one that Karsh produced in 2015. UP will be released around the world on January 29.
UP tour: January-February
Date: February 5, 2016
The Great Indian Golchakkar Festival
Date: February 7, 2016
City: New Delhi
Venue: Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
Date: February 13, 2016
Venue: Kala Ghoda
The Lost Party
Date: February 28