When you think “music festival at a heritage palace in Rajasthan”, electronic music is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. And yet, that is exactly what the eclectic Magnetic Fields Festival does: it combines contemporary sensibilities with tradition.
Held at the Alsisar Mahal in the heritage village of Alsisar, Magnetic Fields showcases Indian contemporary music along with tradition, heritage and art.
Now in its third edition, the three-day festival will see the first-ever collaboration between global music institution Red Bull Music Academy and an Indian festival in the form of “Red Bull Music Academy North Stage”. RBMA is known for having curated stages at festivals such as Barcelona’s Sónar festival, the Movement Electronic Music Festival in Detroit and Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival. This year, the Indian audience at Alsisar can look forward to some of the most innovative artists in the field of electronic music.
Jayanth Ramachandra, or The Sine Painter as he is known by most, is one of the artists from RBMA who will take the stage at Alsisar along with DJ Koze, Objekt and Mumdance, among others.
The Bangalore-based artist’s music can be described as deep house electronic with dance floor sensibilities. Ramachandra believes everything he has listened to has influenced his music in some way. “As for those who have inspired me, it’d definitely be the artists around me from the Indian scene,” he said. “People like Vijay Iyer, Frame/Frame, Oceantied, Sandunes and Soulspace. Seeing the stuff that they were doing and the way they helped in shaping the music scene definitely inspired me to contribute and be part of the scene.”
Ramachandra, who was selected to attend the 2014 edition of RBMA, says that he started taking electronic music seriously when he applied to the academy, as the application gave him a goal and a deadline which made all the difference.
From the perspective of creation, he enjoys the freedom that electronic music provides – of being able to compose an entire track from the comfort of his laptop. “I like how flexible and creative I can be with the elements that I use in my music, whether it’s designing a synthesised sound from scratch or twisting up a sample in unique ways to re-imagine it in a completely different context,” Ramachandra said.
Even though established artists in this genre are putting out work that is cutting edge and revolutionising the way EDM is received, musicians still have to deal with electronic music being dismissed as just club music and not being taken seriously. “There’s this idea that electronic music is this soulless, repetitive, unimaginative fist-pump-and-jump fodder, which is pretty ridiculous because electronic music permeates through so many different styles of music right now and electronics are just a medium to create music for the same reasons that they’ve always been created… Electronic music is so vast and diverse that dismissing it based on how it looks on the surface, seems a bit thick,” he said.
Ramachandra also rues the fact that dance music is seen as “dirty” and “uncultured”. “There really is a lot of depth, meaning, emotion and hard work behind a lot of dance music being made today…and I hope that the general public can learn to, if not appreciate it, at least understand that,” he said.
But Ramachandra has high hopes from the Magnetic Fields Festival and is excited about showcasing quality dance music to Indian audiences. “That line-up is absolutely ridiculous and it’s so good to see so much forward thinking underground music as well as old school sounds from all over the world being represented,” he said. “We’re going to have our first Red Bull Music Academy stage and our first Resident Advisor gig – definitely steps in the right direction. Then there’s the fact that the festival venue is a Palace in the desert, I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty magical experience.”