Photo by Josli Rockafella
Delhi 2 Dublin will bring their Planet Electric sounds to the Darkroom on April 29
“Well, they´re both huge drinking cultures! responds Sanjay Seran, when I ask what the Irish and the Punjabi might have in common. Seran is the vocalist for Delhi 2 Dublin, a Canadian collective that takes elements from these two cultures to create a unique musical fusion. However, he adds, the group´s energetic Celtic and Bhangra mash-ups actually bring together rhythms that have a historical connection. Although it wasn’t part of the reason the band members formed, they have since learned that gypsies from India who traveled to Spain may have also influenced Celtic traditions as their descendants traveled north from Spain to Ireland.
A Celtic-Bhangra fusion may seem to be an unlikely pairing, but who knows what people first thought of now venerable traditions such as flamenco, created in Spain by those same gypsies from India as well as Northern African Moors. In the case of Delhi 2 Dublin, the six-member ensemble (three of whom have Punjabi backgrounds) was born about five years ago at a Celtic Festival in Vancouver. At this festival, says Seran, three of the musicians got together to do a performance piece called “Delhi 2 Dublin” that was so successful it created the group and gave it a name.
Combining traditional Indian instruments such as tabla, dhol and sitar with violin and programmed electronic beats as well as lyrics sung in both Punjabi and English, their melding of Bhangra, Celtic, dub reggae, hip hop and electronica is hard to imagine but very easy to enjoy. I had the opportunity to experience Delhi 2 Dublin at SXSW 2010. Prior to the showcase, I admit wondering if these disparate elements might result in a superficial world music-y mix of beats. However, their performance made it clear that their combustion of highly unexpected elements results in an original and exuberant musical vision.
Their techno-world compositions are more organic than one would expect, yet characterized by a lack of predictability. I ask Seran what they wish to share with the audience, and he answers emphatically, “Mostly fun”! And it is indeed hard to resist the enthusiasm of their music – check the video of “Laughing Buddha” and you’ll understand what I mean.
Seran says Delhi 2 Dublin is none too worried about not being definable, nor not fitting within any specific genre. It allows them to create without expectations, and let the melodies and rhythms flow at will in and out of mostly Delhi or mostly Dublin. Because as the title of their third and latest album “Planet Electric” indicates, it´s really all about plugging directly into the world’s musical energy. And by the way, something else you’ll feel in Delhi 2 Dublin’s music that Irish and Punjabi cultures share? A serious love for dancing.