THE REVIVAL OF ’90S ASIAN UNDERGROUND CLUB SCENE: DJ ISURU ON “MISHTI DANCE”

by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

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.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PART 2

by Carmina Masoliver

trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault, mentions of transphobia

My second week at Edinburgh Fringe Festival offered a selection of shows more overtly dealing with Feminist themes. This selection ranged from the role that gender has to play in our experience of the dating world in the digital age, an exploration of the ‘pretty privilege’ set against trans experiences, to an examination of celebrities as female role models.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PT 1

edinburgh fringe 2019

by Carmina Masoliver

Edinburgh Fringe festival seems to get bigger and bigger each year; there are hundreds of shows to choose from and the densely-packed programme can be difficult to decipher. Here we have briefly reviewed three distinct shows from the 2019 edition, dealing with the mind, the body, sexuality, relationships and gender.

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KILL THE PRINCESS, BY BAIT THEATRE

kill the princess review bait

by Sunetra Senior

A tall hill of turquoise, gendered cooing and guffawing, chainmail crop tops, and dance-fights with mops, performed to the sound of nineties nostalgia: Lizzy Shakespeare and Michelle Madsen, together known as Bait Theatre, effectively wield experimental drama to tear through the fanciful tropes of traditional fairy-tale femininity.Continue Reading

THE LAST WORD FESTIVAL 2019 REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse, Camden, merges various art forms that all centre on the spoken word – in some cases fusing with music, circus and cabaret. Established artists feature in the festival alongside younger, emerging artists; The Roundhouse supports 18 to 25-year-olds starting out in spoken word poetry (amongst other things) through the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, of which I was a member. Each show I see, I bump into fellow poets, for example, chatting to Toby Campion, we realise we both came through the Roundhouse programme.

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THE RICH NOTHING AT UGLY DUCK

by Carmina Masoliver

On a rainy Friday, people in-the-know gathered to listen to poetry in Ugly Duck for the launch of Sophie Fenella’s debut poetry collection The Rich Nothing. Ugly Duck is actually a series of different event spaces, with this particular one being located at 47/49 Tanner Street in Bermondsey. Inside this old Victorian tannery (where leather skins are processed), therein lies ‘The Garage’. On the ground floor, the space is described as having ‘a grungy urban warehouse feel’, and without much natural light at the back, it has an underground vibe in more than one sense of the word. With genuine caution signs for wet floors from leaks, it feels like an abandoned building that has been turned into an exhibition space – but in a cool way.

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BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES REVIEW

by Liv Barnett

Barbershop Chronicles is a ride which buzzes with energy from the first shaves to the final fades. It is written by Inua Ellams, UK-based poet, playwright and performer, and is an exhilarating play that identifies various aspects of black men’s experience through snippets of stories and interactions in barbershops that Ellams overheard as he travelled throughout Africa. Like hairdressers or taxi rides, barbershops can be intimate spaces for banter, storytelling and confession. With generosity and patience, this play does a good job of allowing audience members to step momentarily into the world of men’s chats. We become part of the warmth and banter between sensitive characters and appreciate the feelings and analyses that come with post-colonial politics, experiences of cultural change, complex family dynamics and making a living amongst love and friendship.

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