As part of the AHRC funded project, Exploring Cultural Diversity in Experimental Sound, we are working with six key participants who are Black and South Asian. These artists include NikNak, Dhangsha, Nikki Sheth, Poulomi Desai, Gary Stewart, and Dushume.
All have established profiles as artists working in the field of Experimental Sound. These key participants represent a diversity of aesthetic styles, career positions, age, gender and backgrounds. They have been commissioned to write two pieces of music reflecting on their creative identities and practice, which will be released at the end of the project.
Aniruddha Das is an experimental electronic musician exploring the relationship between rhythm and noise. His emphasis is on minimalism, repetition and fragmentation in sound. His spartan but heavy beats are punctuated by the accents of African clave patterns, whilst his alien synth motifs betray his love of the sound of Detroit. His real time manipulation of various distortions impels each soundtrack towards entropy – a sense of impending collapse – and is the main performative aspect of his live improvisations.
Aniruddha was a founder member and the original bassist of Asian Dub Foundation. His current practice is a return to his roots in experimental sound, pre-dating any involvement with dub. As he veers towards the non-metric, and prises open samples using granular synthesis, one can sense him attempting to exorcise 30 years of certain rhythmic and sonic strictures.
He has released three albums under the moniker of “Dhangsha” (Bengali for ‘destruction’): “Future Tense,” “Autonomous Zones” and “Live at Spirit of Gravity.” A fourth album “Aberrant” is set for release on sound art label “Hard Return” in May 2023. He has additionally put out two albums of noise and caustic ambience under the auspices of DSPSSSSD (‘dispossessed’): “Exit Wounds” and “Livid.” He has also contributed tracks to compilations by Syrphe, Avon Terror Corps and Iklectik.
As Dhangsha, he has toured in Colombia, performing at several gigs at the Bogotrax electronic festival in February 2020, and has twice toured with duo Yao Bobby, political rapper from Togo, and Simon Grab, ‘no-input’ experimentalist from Switzerland – once in Europe, around the UK in March 2022. Throughout 2022/23, he consolidated his reputation for intense, bass heavy, improvised soundscapes by performing extensively in London and the South East.show less
Poulomi Desai is a multidisciplinary artist and curator. She is self-taught and for over 30 years, has been involved in performance, live art, sound and photography installations interrogating the politics of identity, listening and perception, inspired by her activist and DIY post punk background. She subverts broken sitars into new electronic instruments for improvised performance, melding circuit bent toys, modified cassette decks, optikinetic instruments, kitchen knives, axes and massage tools. She works with collage, field recordings, VLF radio noise, petri dish bacterial photography and ideas of ‘electromagnetic black noise’, embracing chance, loss of control and questioning ‘authenticity’. Recent haptic works are part of the Heritage Quay / British Music Collection archives where she was a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow and is an Oram Award recipient. Exhibitions include The Serpentine Gallery, Autograph ABP, The Science Museum London, Habitat India and The Baltic. She co-founded Shakti, the first South Asian LGBTQ+ club and organisation, the NAZ HIV/AIDs project, and HAC – the punk art, Asian performance company in the 80s and runs the Usurp Art Charity, supporting outsider artists.
NikNak is an award-winning artist from London and based in Leeds, UK.
As a dynamic music creative with experimental albums and tracks/remixes on Come Play With Me, Kynant Records, OTONO, Reel Long Overdub under her belt, NikNak regularly redefines and expands upon her role as a ground-breaking multidisciplinary artist. Previously mentored by Shiva Feshareki, Anna Meredith and Supriya Nagaranjan, NikNak became the first Black Turntablist in history to win the illustrious Oram Award in 2020, been featured in publications such as Mixmag, Resident Advisor, Yorkshire Evening Post, Electronic Sound Mag, and DJ Mag, and received support from Arts Council, Brighter Sound, Launchpad, Sound UK, Sound and Music, and PRS.
Listed as one of DJ-Mag’s “Ones To Watch in 2022”, NikNak continues to build upon her vast DJ-ing experience having blown audiences away with her eclectic DJ sets at festivals like Wilderness, We Out Here, Leeds International Festival, Bestival and more…
NikNak has also played with/supported iconic artists/DJs such as Mr Scruff, Madlib, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Akala, Grandmaster Flash, Bradley Zero, Princess Nokia and more…
Within the realm of radio, NikNak is well-versed as both a presenter and producer with her monthly show Melanin on Worldwide FM. Previously, she’s also cut her teeth on popular stations such as BBC Radio Leeds, Refuge Worldwide, Subtle FM, Swu.FM, Threads Radio, Narr Radio, Jazz FM and Demon FM.
NikNak has also ventured into the world of podcasting via The Narrative podcast that opens a safe space for Black non-male creatives to express openly about their worlds. NikNak also has been rapidly increasing her experience in theater music production, composition and sound design, and has worked on productions such as Dracula and Princess and the Pea at Leeds Playhouse.
As the resident Turntablist of the group, NikNak is also a member of TC And The Groove Family, a bold UK-based 10-piece collective that explores grooves and genres from around the world in their music together.
Image credit: Sophie Jouvenaarshow less
Nikki Sheth is an internationally recognised sound artist and composer. Her practice involves field recording, soundscape composition, multimedia installations, sound mapping and soundwalking. She uses sound as a medium to bring a voice to the environment and encourage a wider awareness of the natural world.
She has received international recognition for the quality of her field recordings and soundscape compositions and her work has been performed worldwide. In 2020 she was awarded a Sound and Music award, nominated for the Phonurgia Nova Awards in the ‘Field Recording: Soundscape’ category and was an Honourable Mention for the Sound of the Year Awards in the ‘Composed with Sound’ category. In 2021 she was nominated for an Ivor Novello Composer Award in the Sound Art Category. Her debut album Sounds of Mmabolela received an excellent review in The Wire Magazine.
Her work has been presented at BEAST FEAST (UK), Sonic Territories (Germany), Pitea Performing Arts Biennial (Sweden), KMH (Stockholm), Spektra Festival (Columbia), Ecoacoustic Congress (Brisbane), The Global Composition (Germany), DLR Lexicon (Dublin), Perspectives on Listening (Brisbane), Balance Unbalance (UK), Sound + Environment (UK) and more. She has been featured on Framework Radio, Clydebuilt Radio, Resonance FM and BBC Radio 3 and her work has been published with a variety of labels.show less
Gary Stewart is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersection of sound, moving image and computational creativity. His work examines social and political issues of identity, culture, and technology. Through the application of innovative technologies and practices he is part of a global network of collaborators who are advocates for equality, climate justice and better health through the arts especially those from marginalised communities. Operating through a range of theoretical, fictional, and artistic frames, his work traverses media art, experimental music, and research.