‘Fuck you mean you need it?/ Fuck you mean you RSVPed?/ I don’t need a reason’ Ashnikko fires back at the retort women often get to be ‘asking for’ unwanted sexual advances through their choice of clothes. No holds barred, she spits out ‘his castration would be nice’, and the extremity and radical of her lyrics continues through the rest of her repertoire, creating both a humorous and empowering feel.
The Canadian electronic music scene is relatively little-known internationally, not least its radical activist elements. But LAL, the Toronto-based electronic duo, never sought widespread international recognition. Instead, the self-identified ‘semi-anarchist’ couple – singer-songwriter/manager Rosina Kazi, and producer-instrumentalist Nicholas Murray – have embraced their position outside the mainstream by fostering a literal and metaphorical space for alternative musicians and poets. They produce their own unique sounds, inspired by both European electronic and fusion bands. They’re also influenced by both the Canadian, and the global socio-political landscapes. I sat down with Rosina in a downtown Toronto coffee shop to discuss the band’s history, potential move to Europe, and their community performance space, Unit 2.
by Jonathan Lee
The oldest known song in the British Isles dates back 1,400 years and it’s written in Welsh.
Pais Dinogad was sung in Rheged, a kingdom of Yr Hen Ogledd (the old North), in what is now modern day Cumbria and the Scottish Lowlands. The song is a simple lullaby, telling a baby of his father, Lord Dinogad, who is out hunting in a time long before Anglo-Saxons or even Gaels had arrived in this part of Britain.
It probably wouldn’t be described as an absolute banger if we’re completely honest (although this lyre-wielding, tattooed, metal-head gives it a real good go). It’s nonetheless incredible that it’s still being sung at all today, and that its lyrics are broadly comprehensible to modern Welsh speakers.
The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.
by Alex Day
Jungle, for those that don’t know, is a music genre that started in the early 1990s. It’s a combination of reggae and breakbeats – fast, moody and disorientating. This sound has, traditionally, been played in warehouses to pleasure-seeking ravers resistant to authority.
By 1996, a few years after its inception, the sound evolved, and the era of ‘jungle’ came to a close. Commercialised, disfigured by modern production techniques and stamped out by the 1994 Criminal Justice Act; drum and bass (a faster and more polished version of jungle) took its place.
The alternative British Asian pop genre, Asian Underground, held a significant place back in the early-mid ‘90s as a uniquely transgressive genre combining Indian classical instrumentation, jazz, the contemporary sounds of dub, drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, interspersed with crooning Bollywood-style vocals. The genre blew up and enjoyed mainstream popularity in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, exerting significant influence on Western hip hop, R&B and urban music at the time. DJ Isuru Perera, better known simply as DJ Isuru, is one of the leading figures in today’s Asian Underground revival, having collaborated with a range of DJs and performers aspiring to reintroduce this strand of ‘90s Dance music to a younger generation. He is also a regular presenter on SOAS radio, where he hosts various (mainly British Asian) musicians from different eras, playing their music with accompanying track-by-track analysis.
I caught up with Isuru to discuss Asian Underground history and his latest initiative, ‘Mishti Dance’, a series of evening events held in East London. Isuru neatly articulates its ethos as ‘a return to the experimentation of the Asian Underground in the face of commercial clubbing’. The format of Mishti Dance comprises a community-based arts and performance space featuring both poets and DJs, in a radical defiance of the rigid, distinct cultural categorisation of arts events as either high arts- or club music-based.
tw: mentions of suicide
In recent years, the indie-rock revival has gained traction across the UK, spurning artists such as Circa Waves, The Magic Gang, Sea Girls and countless other bands and solo artists with catchy, accessible lyrics and melodies against guitar-heavy backgrounds. I will fully admit to being an indie fan at heart; these artists generally make up a large proportion of my ‘heavy rotation’ on Spotify at any given moment. But the genre can’t always be credited with much lyrical originality, or indeed, with much engagement with the world beyond the singers’ own personal dilemmas and often relentless self-deprecation.