DAN interviews Indian Man from his home-built studio based in Bristol

Written by Fleur Williams

Fleur Williams from Diverse Artists Network (DAN) had the chance to connect with IndianMan in his home-built studio, based in Bristol. They sat down to talk about diversity within the music scene, including the South West region and the UK. How the scene has changed over the past decade, and what can be done in the present. Indian Man offers an interesting perspective around the topic of diversity and the multitude of ways in which the term can be attributed.

Growing up it was my Punjabi and Sikh roots that were a massive influence for me, and I grew up playing in a family Bhangra band. My influences now span from Eastern Europe, South America, Sudan, and Senegal – these influences have come from traveling and having friends across the world.

Good question… I think initially growing up I struggled to find a sense of belonging. It created a lot of problems, especially concerning anger, stemming from feeling disconnected. I used to ask myself “Am I Sikh? Am I Punjabi? Am I British?”… ‘What am I supposed to be?’ In my mind, I felt restricted, but it was music that helped me fuse these identities and that was a form of therapy.

Now my identity has evolved through all parts of my music. I’m currently curating a compilation album working with 12 electronic-based artists across the world. I’m working and creating with other people that I’m not aware anyone else is in Bristol. Hip hop artists from South America, and other artists such as Emmanuel Jal, Fémina, and Dobet Gnahoré. I’m also collaborating with someone at the moment who doesn’t even speak English! We’re completely using Google Translate, and it’s actually great.

I think musically the South West could be seen as one of the most diverse scenes in the UK. Politically, it is inviting. In other parts of the world, what we do in Bristol would not be as accepted, especially if you wanted to play Indian or “black roots” based music. People wouldn’t listen and without people listening there’s no audience and without an audience, there are no gigs. Sadly, that is how it works. If my grandparents hadn’t come to Bristol and none of this would have been possible for me. It makes me think firstly, how lucky we are living in Bristol, and secondly, how far you need to push boundaries to enable things to happen and to stand out.

WOMAD/Womex, the most international and culturally diverse music meeting in the world has done so much work around representation. Since the age of 19, I’ve seen so much more diversity there. They’ve connected me to a hub of artists with whom I’m able to collaborate. When I was young, the Womad crew invited me to play with them and I honestly had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that I was having the best time. Womad is the main reason why I’m here now. I recognise that not everyone has this opportunity and for that, I am well and truly privileged

Continental Drifts, also Worldwide FM. In terms of accessibility, they have a far bigger reach, they are always pushing boundaries. 

On the local level, people such as the Diverse Artists Network are ensuring that this workaround diversity representation is being addressed at a local and grassroots level, and support people who don’t necessarily have easy access into the arts/music scene. I think now, we really need to be using these models and examples and focus on other parts of the UK.

I would like to see more diverse music played in more prestigious venues in Bristol. I think a lot of “diverse “music is often only consumed within a festival environment and I want to see all types of music in a variety of spaces and settings.

It would be great to have that respect and support for people who choose not to drink. I think collectives like Daytimers do a good job of this! This would pave the way to encourage more communities to come out and experience the nightlife. It really can be a barrier for some.

And more diversity in terms of the kind of nightlife offered in Bristol. In South America, I have attended a lot of downtempo nights, nothing higher than 100 BPM. That way you can choose if you would like to go to a sit-down event, even one that you can ‘bop to’, or go to a night that is a full-fledged ‘rave’. That way we create a nightlife that is open to everyone.

That is great, to give other people an opportunity. People seem to have so much commotion over this. There is plenty of good music to go around from all corners. We really shouldn’t make lineups the same. By giving people the opportunity, we can change what is defined by “popular” music, and people will get to hear new stuff.

Everyone should be valued and their opinions should be heard because in this industry you always have to remain self-assured. For years I did stuff for free or little money. We all know it is hard but it is good when people pay you. They recognise that what you’re doing is good and time is put in – that is the whole point of payment.

I can also think back to times when people have become so offended when talking about payment. Sometimes you’ve got to understand the perspective of the musician, especially if it’s a promoter; who is about to make loads of money. For anyone to survive in this industry, these three things are so necessary!

I’ve got an EP in production… I’ve been focusing on this in the studio a lot. I’ve also been doing the EP artwork by myself – everything is done solo. 

All I can ask and hope for is that you enjoy it and if you can support it great; because I’m truly doing this alone. It may never be a huge thing or career, but everything I do feels like the biggest achievement. 

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