India’s first ska band on their new album, socio-political lyrics and the upcoming UK tour.
From songs aimed to taunt the nation’s prime minister to performing for 2,000 inmates at Tihar Jail, The Ska Vengers have always been anti-establishment. Now that the Delhi-based jazz/rocksteady/punk/ska outfit has conquered India’s soundscape—from Varkala beach (in Kerala) to Haus Khas Village—they are poised to go global, with new tunes from their sophomore album XX (pronounced double cross). We catch up with the sextet—Stefan Kaye (keys), Begum X aka Samara Chopra (vocals), Taru Dalmia aka Delhi Sultanate (vocals), Chaitanya Bhalla (guitars), Tony Guinard (bass) and Nikhil Vasudevan (drums)—prior to their gig at The Humming Tree, Bengaluru, tomorrow. “When you listen to this album, the music on it is very diverse and it’s quite sonically rich. These things take time,” explains Dalmia, on why it took them three years. Lyrically, there’s much more political commentary on the newer tracks. This is apparent from their firebrand form of Indo-Afro-Carribean rebel music. The aural crux of XX comprises the afro-beat infused Double X (written in Telangana after a meeting with famed activist-tuned-poet Gaddar) and hip-hop sounds in Frank Brazil (on the life and trial of revolutionary, Udham Singh). With over 15 gigs on their UK tour (July 23-September 11), the seven-year-old band will be playing at Boomtown (Hampshire) and Hootenany (Brixton).“Indians playing Jamaican-influenced music in the British Isles!” laughs Dalmia.
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— Anoop Menon