Reggae is, in part, the result of an oppressed diasporic community imagining an uplifting African homeland. The other side of the dialogue happens when Africa reaches outward to spread its music, completing the exchange and enriching us all in the process. At Goa Sunsplash, we want to nurture this dialogue and promote both African and Afro-Caribbean culture. Give thanks to Jah, to the Orishas, and to all spiritual forces that led bandleader Anand Bhagat and the rest of the Boombay Djembe Folas on their journey to create this band and now to grace Goa with their sounds! Here is my exclusive interview with Anand.
Kavin: How did the group first come together?
BDF: I'm gonna say the group was shaped by me, Anand Bhagat, since I'm doing the interview...! Haha, anyway, the group was shaped by me, Djembe always attracted me so of course the love for the rest of African music was the intention... so I met up with friends and fellow percussionists in the scene and put together this band with their energies.
K: Why djembe music? What is it about these rhythms that make you want to keep playing them?
BDF: I have always loved the Djembe and so began the interest in West African music and the traditional way of playing these beautiful instruments. West African music is so rich and beautiful, words fall short. There is so much out there and a lot of it is heard within many different styles of music. It also makes you move and get into a "zone." The energy is amazing. The styles we are playing at the moment are Malinke, Djoula and Wassoulou and music from Burkina Faso. I play the balafon (Wooden xylophone). We also make our music from scratch, besides adapting the traditional music of course.
K: Tell us about your connection to West Africa and West African culture. Do you play music to carry on a tradition, or to innovate and change those traditions?
BDF: So the love for this music bought me to Burkina Faso and Mali.. .my mentor made my dream come true and it was amazing to be able to learn traditional music from the Griots and other masters from Bobo Dioulaso and Bamako, cities in Mali. it was a great experience to be able to do that and bring it back and play it with my friends and others, and pass on this beautiful tradition.Its important to do justice to this kinda music in the sense that we like to play and show the traditional style and also put our masala into it. Its like cooking a yummy dish and using different flavors but sticking to the roots and respecting them.
K: Has there been any collaboration with African people living in Mumbai?
BDF: There has not been a collaboration with any Africans living in Mumbai as of now but that would be awesome!
K: How your audience of Mumbaikars and Indians received your music, and do you have any interesting anecdotes to share about the fans’ reactions?
BDF: The audience always love it..we have had many small children and old men and women dance to our music and it's an amazing feeling, in fact the show at Bandra festival at Carter Rd 2015 was one to remember. Our dundun Folas grandma was dancing full on in the crowd and that was an amazing feeling for all of us.. also Lil Flea in Delhi recently was also high energy and we had an amazing response.
K: What are you looking forward to the most at Goa Reggae Sunsplash 2018?
BDF: We are totally looking forward to Sunsplash! We love Reggae music and we hope to spread the African roots and party with all with the message of Peace Love and Respect.