Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Dancehall culture takes root in India

Published:Friday | August 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Taru Dalmia started Bass Foundation Roots Sound System in New Delhi, India.
Chronixx
Kabaka Pyramid
Taru Dalmia started Bass Foundation Roots Sound System in New Delhi, India.
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The creator of India's first reggae sound system, Taru Dalmia, says he yearn for the opportunity to work with the likes of Chronixx and Kabaka Pyramid.

"We voice a lot of dubplates with both Jamaican and Indian artistes. Some are voiced on new riddims but mostly, I like to stick to the timeless productions of the golden era. I would love to get a chance to voice Chronixx on dubplate for BFR," Dalmia said.

He also has his eye on collaborative work with Samory I as well as Kabaka Pyramid.

Dalmia started Bass Foundation Roots (BFR) Sound System in New Delhi, India. He is also part of a Delhi-based band called The Ska Vengers. The equlavent of J$2.5 million was raised via crowdfunding that financed the building of the sound system.

BFR Sound System are followers of the Rory 'Stone Love' Black Dub project. That following afforded them an invitation to visit with Rory Stone Love in Jamaica.

"We visited Jamaica three years back. We were lucky to be invited by Rory Stone Love and stayed at his house. This gave us a unique insight into the music scene. Artistes would constantly pass through and we got a chance to be around Black Dub production sessions," he said.

During that trip, BFR managed to play a set at Vinyl Thursdays, but still wanted more.

"Sadly, I didn't get to see any clashes. I love sound clash as an artform and hope to represent my sound system one day. Over the years I've been building a dangerous box of dubplate," Dalmia told The Gleaner. "I hope to make it back as soon as possible."

He opines that Jamaica is a cultural superpower, noting that it is "the only former colony that I know of that has exported to the whole world a style of music that talks about colonialism and oppression and is so influential."

"I consider all Jamaican music reggae music, whether its ska, dub, rocksteady, roots or dancehall," he told The Gleaner while adding that "we play everything at BFR Sound System sessions.

"We already play internationally with both our band, The Ska Vengers, as well as playing sound system sets. However, touring with our own stack of speakers outside of India is very difficult. At the moment, we have our hands full with playing reggae music in India and making it popular here," Dalmia said.

Dalmia expressed a preference for spinning "the original rub-a-dub". He told The Gleaner that productions from the '70s and dancehall from the '90s are among his most admired music.

"At the time, Jamaica was at the cutting edge of production. The whole world was looking to Jamaica for the unique sound and innovative production techniques. I'm not going to lie, I feel that some of that has been lost, but I am very excited by the new generation of lyricists coming out of Jamaica," he said.