For those living under a rock, Su Real is a DJ/producer synonymous with Trap, Hip Hop and urban dance music in India. In 2014 he ruled the music scene with his album “Trapistan” and is now out with his new album “Twerkistan”. An album boasting 16 explosive cross-genre playlist. Team Gaysi caught up with the musician to talk about his recently released powerful animated video “Soldiers” from the same album.
Q. What about the Kiss of Love protest inspire you to make this animated video “Soldiers” ?
Protests come and go, but meaningful ones are rare. The simple act of kissing that we Indians are expected to keep private, became so explosively amplified when performed in public. It was a graceful, artful response to an increasingly violent enforcement of moral policing. Although it started in Kerala as a response to specific incident(s), the symbolism spread and allowed disparate groups across the country to unite around this fundamental issue of personal liberty. One of my favorite books is Rules For Radicals, an activist handbook written by Saul D. Alinsky, first published in the ’70s in the U.S. and since recommended by Barrack Obama himself. In the book he often refers to tactics utilized by Mahatma Gandhi against the British. One of Alinsky’s basic rules (towards an effective campaign to enact real change) is to use tactics that your people enjoy, yet ridicules or infuriates the enemy. I believe both Mr. Alinsky and Gandhiji would have been proud of the Kiss of Love protests. Now, we need to keep on kissing until societal change is effected, so pucker up!
Q. Art, music and politics come together in this video. What transpired this creation?
I think the 3 amigos are always hand-in-hand, whether people see it or not. From Led Zeppelin to Green Day, James Brown to N.W.A.; meanwhile in today’s zeitgeist we have musicians like M.I.A., Kanye West, and even I would say Miley Cyrus playing with various art-forms, creating works with political tones – sometimes overtones, sometimes undertones. In my case, specifically talking about soldiers, I wanted a festival anthem for my album Twerkistan, something for the Young Indian Raver generation. I like songs to have a solid concept behind them. When the Kiss of Love protests happened, I watched and read the news reports diligently. About a year later, when I started thinking about soldiers, I thought this could be the basis of a great concept for this track. When I was 11ish, I was really into rap groups Public Enemy and N.W.A. – they often had songs they wrote about very specific political incidents of their time yet these songs have become timeless classics. Pretest music always made me feel inspired. Songs like N.W.A.’s “F*ck The Police” have resonated literally with hundreds of millions of youth around the world, and for almost 3 decades. So I trod forth in the footsteps of this grand tradition. I produced the music and laid out a rough arrangement. I knew I wanted a male voice and a female voice, to be inclusive conceptually, but it also strikes a nice balance in the song. I’ve always had a soft spot for duets! Anyway, I approached Tanya first; I’ve always admired her voice and on-stage charisma whenever I’d see her play with her bands or host her crazy karaoke nights. I sent her a rough draft of the lyrics and she helped me fine-tune them. Thereafter I approached my old friend Zorawar Shukla a.k.a. General Zooz of Reggae Rajahs, the group that introduced me to the New Delhi scene really. He dug the concept right away and penned his bars. I then took both Tanya and Zooz’s vocals and expanded on the arrangement. After putting it all together, I realized it’s a pretty wild track – it might help to have a cool video to help gel it all together! I’m a huge fan of animation and have always wanted an animated music video, just to have a cool anime version of myself… Through an international network of friends I somehow got in touch with Sinbad Richardson, based in Montreal, Canada. I sent him the song and explained the concept, he caught on right away. He sent me a draft treatment, which I okay’d after a few minor tweaks and then just let him have free creative reign. Good thing because he smashed it out of the park. It was important for us all to get this video on TV to spread the message. Fortunately VH1 India was happy to oblige for the exclusive premiere, with some relatively minor edits for daytime spins. In retrospect, it was kind of cool how supportive they were and how they understood what the video was about and why it should be on TV here, now, in India. If we get even a few more soldiers on the dance floor, feeling the good vibrations and spreading the love, well, at least I’ll be more optimistic… not just about my musical career, but the human race.
Q. Can you tell us more about the album “Twerkistan”, how it came about and what it represents for you?
I think of it as curating for the desi dance floor. I make music thinking about how people would respond to it in the club or at a festival. These days, more and more Indians are acquainted with E.D.M., but in my humble opinion this E.D.M. has expanded to include a variety of dance music genres and styles that until recently were considered underground like trap, dubstep, moombahton, etc. Ubiquitous among all these styles – the twerking dance reigns supreme. When I started seeing girls in Indian clubs trying to twerk, I thought ok, let’s try to make some desi tracks with some proper bass and underground edge that these ladies can vibe to and the dance floor… And then along came Nucleya… I mean it’s not a new formula, this East-West fusion… R.D. Burman did it, Bappi da did it… Talvin Singh, Asian Dub Foundation, Midival Punditz and others continued the formula with electronic music… But Nucleya f**kin’ smashed it – he just hit the nail on the head over and over again and made all this music that totally resonates at the exact same frequencies as Yung India. More and more Indians want to embrace this globalized world we live in with its tempting technology and entertainment offerings. But no one wants to do it necessarily at the expense of their Indian-ness, of their traditions and tastes. So I tried to take a few notes out of Nucleya’s cheat sheet, and with this in mind crammed as many desi-tinged “bangers” into Twerkistan as I could. Some of the tracks are a little dirty, some are a little daring, but hopefully, they are all danceable!