The Vasundhara festival of environmental arts had us gripped the moment we heard about it. Set to take place from 5-8 March on the sandy beaches of North Goa, the event brings together environmental awareness with music, film and performing arts, ultimately aiming to inspire the global community on healing the states ecology, particularly the once pristine and naturally rich section of Indian coastline.
The team at Vasundhara are spreading their word in a big way, with seminal London based dub producer, Gaudi headlining the festival along with a carefully curated, talented set of national and international acts such as B.R.E.E.D., SickFlip, Wazuli and more. Joining those luminaries is Hang Massive – a duo that comprises of forward thinking, left of center musicians and world music icons, Danny Cudd and Markus Offbeat.
The duo are best known as pioneers in hang music.
Often referred to as a ‘hang drum’, the metallic percussive instrument that they play originated in Switzerland and sort of looks like a cross between a steelpan and cartoon spaceship. “Mystical” is an adjective applied commonly to its sound, which is deep, resonating and strikingly melodious.
Hang Massive’s music uses the hang as a foundation to their music, which is accentuated at times with complimentary instruments and more often, electronic music. They featured on an album with The Many Rivers Ensemble called ‘Blood Moon’, which was released earlier this year and their music video for ‘Once Again’ has collected over a staggering 10 million views on YouTube.
We were left intrigued by Hang Massive and decided to get in touch with the duo who spoke to us about the hang, Goa and their forthcoming performance at the Vasundhara Festival of environmental arts.
How’s it going?
Hang Massive: Fantastic.
How would you describe hang drums to someone who isn’t aware of them?
Hang Massive: Imagine a combination of a UFO and a steel drum and you would be getting close. Best would be to check out our YouTube channel and see the real deal.
What attracted you to the instrument? Had you seen it used before by other musicians?
Danny: I met somebody in a festival in Europe who was playing one of the early hangs and I was totally amazed. I already had a love for unique world instruments and was immediately set on getting one. At that point the hang was almost unknown and not many people at all had seen them being used.
How did it evolve into the live electronic music you make today?
Markus: After playing together for many years and with a shared love of electronic music it has just been a totally natural unfolding. At first we experimented with recording hang and mixing that with electronic music and we are now in the process of reproducing that live.
You’ve played in Goa in the past, and if our sources are correct, you also met each other there. What draws you back to India?
Markus: I love the easy lifestyle that is offered in Goa and initially this is what attracted me. In the past five years or so I have been here mainly to participate in the Balanced View training. We are currently involved in a project called Massive Vibe Live which is a Balanced View production that aims to bring human empowerment through music, lyrics and visuals.
Danny: I love the vibe of India and I have done since the first time I visited in 1999. Goa is a very special place and we live in a quiet and very beautiful village. We have many friends that come every year from all over the world and I just love to be here.
What other musical elements would you like to experiment with in your albums in the future?
Markus: All kinds, known and unknown. I love to approach music with an openness to include all people and styles that come along the way.
Danny: This year we will release a few albums and some EPs. Each one has such a variety of styles and ideas ranging from acoustic mellowness to fat electronic. We just let it all unfold very naturally.
What are you looking forward to at the Vasundhara Environmental Arts Festival?
Markus: I’m looking forward to presenting our music to a new audience and I love to support the environmental aspects of the festival.
What do you think sets the festival apart from other events you’ve seen in Goa? Any acts you’re excited to see perform?
Markus: I think the whole festival will be very unique and it’s great to raise awareness of the environment and how we can all contribute on a day to day basis to take care if this amazing place. I see that the management team are totally dedicated to these aspects and I really believe they can make a difference. I am looking forward to seeing The Right Band perform.
Danny: I am looking forward to see Gaudi play live. It is always a great show. He has recently produced a great remix of one of our songs which I think he will play. I am also looking forward to seeing the many Indian artists perform - that I maybe don’t know so well.
You’re live album has received over 10 million views on YouTube – a commendable feat. What can we expect from Hang Massive in the years to come?
Hang Massive: Hold tight. 2015 will be packed with music releases, new videos, an ever updating website. All this alongside massive new collaborations with artists from around the world.
Image credit (thumb): Giles Clarke
25 February 2015