Karsh Kale: Artist You Should Know

By KCRW DJ Valida:

photo by Anja Matthes

It’s been a few years since I graduated from UCLA’s department of World Arts And Cultures. During my time spent on campus, it was very common for me to walk the hallways of the Dance Building and peek through the doors of different dance studios and be exposed to many different types of music and dance traditions. On any given day, one could hear the sounds of Flamenco, Brazilian, West-African, Afro-Cuban, Hip-Hop and East Asian music resonating through the building. It’s one of the things I miss most about college – the constant every-day exposure to world music and dance. Which is why I am so excited that KCRW presents the yearly World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.

One performer that particularly caught my attention is Indian composer and multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale. I have been a fan of Indian music for many years, peaking with Talvin Singh’s release of Anokha-Soundz of the Asian Underground in 1997.

Hearing that album for the first time was one of the most profound musical experiences of my life.

The fusion of tabla and other traditional Indian instruments with a more western-electronic musical aesthetics worked like magic. Karsh Kale has, in fact, collaborated with at least two artists who are featured on AnokhaAmar and State of Bengal!

Karsh Kale was born in the UK but his family emigrated the US in 1977. His father exposed young Karsh to the music of the Beatles and Indian Classical music. From the early years, he showed great interest in music and soon took on drums and eventually tabla, in which he excelled and became a virtuoso player.  Karsh went on to graduate from Music Performance and Production at New York University.

In 2000, avant-garde musician Bill Laswell initiated a project called Tabla Beat Science where Karsh Kale and fellow musicians Zakir Hussain, Talvin Singh, Trilok Gurtu and Sultan Khan Science collaborated to produce “Tala Matrix”, a release that has been dubbed as the most influential albums of the Asian fusion genre to date.
Karsh Kale is considered a pioneer of electronic fusion and when he is not collaborating with Sting, Paul Oakenfold Ravi Shankar, Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, Lenny Kravitz, Anoushka Shankar or other notable names in the music world, Karsh is either scoring Bollywood films, producing albums for the Six Degrees record label, or, as an established DJ, globe-trotting to one of his many gigs worldwide.  He also tours with a 9-member band, Cinema Live, whose performance at UCLA’s Royce Hall earlier in January earned a standing ovation.

KCRW World Music Festival welcomes Karsh Kale as part of Journey to India with A.R. Rahman and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Sunday, July 10. Other special guests include Rhythms of Rajasthan, Bollywood Step Dance and Sher Foundation.

I’ll be in Sarajevo all of July on vacation, but I’m sure it will be an incredible evening surrounded by other KCRW music lovers!

– Valida.

Cinema by Karsh Kale Official