Interview: Jalebee Cartel
To say that these guys have had a hand in the progression of India's booming electronic music scene would be an understatement. Simply, one of the most successful electronic music acts hailing from India, Jalebee Cartel has consistently challenged the notion that dance music is a Western domain by single handedly putting India on the international 'EDM' map.
Made up of four members, Arjun Vagale (laptop, mixing, electronics), Ash Roy (vocals and percussions), Ashvin Mani Sharma (laptop and synths) and G-force Arjun (bass guitar), Jalebee has been taking India - and the world - by storm for over five years. From individual DJ sets to live gigs, producing to composing, there seems to be nothing that can get in their way.
We managed to catch up with the guys mid tour to talk about India's music scene, tunes, shows and food...
For those of us who don't know much about you guys. Fill us in...
Arjun Vagale: Jalebee is a live house / techno act and DJ collective. Basically just a bunch of guys who love playing and producing music.
You're currently on road on a mammoth tour of Europe. How's it going?
Arjun Vagale: So far it's been amazing. Tresor in Berlin was the best so far for me. They've revamped the sound-system and it's a monster! Fusion Festival was wicked as well. Although it was cold and raining, the set was really well received. I'm playing in Ibiza for the first time tonight, so I'm well excited.
Ash Roy: It's brilliant. We're playing at some new venues this year plus some venues we played in last year. Meeting a lot of new people and visiting different places is always fun!
Ashvin: It's going really well, really excited about the response we've been getting in all our gigs.
Where's your favorite place to play and why?
Arjun Vagale: Ah... that's a tough one. In India defo blueFROG. People who run it are now like family to me and the vibe is amazing. Internationally though, I'd have to say Berlin, it is truly the Mecca for underground music.
Ash Roy: Berlin simply because it's a Hub for Techno and Electronica, and all the best festivals and parties are just a few hours away.
Ashvin: Personally I love the Tresor Club in Berlin, it's truly a part of history and is run by an amazing gentleman called Dimitri who has been part of the underground scene as long as it has existed.
Jalebee Cartel Live at blueFrog, Mumbai
I know it's far off, but are you looking forward to being back home?
Arjun Vagale: Still have two months to go, so really not thinking of home just yet, though I do miss my studio terribly. Have a make shift one in Berlin so it's working out. My wife's with me this time, so really home is where she is.
Ash Roy: Yes definitely looking forward to going home. Missing home food!
Ashvin: Most definitely, after all is said and done, the way to a man's heart is his stomach! Missing Indian food like crazy and have taken to cooking in desperation.
How would you characterise India's music scene?
Arjun Vagale: At the moment, I think it lacks direction. There are a 100 DJs playing all over the place but most of them play the same crap, and in turn the crowd expects the same sound. But, there are a good few who have been stepping up and playing and producing some amazing music. We need more of those innovative souls to really up the game.
Ash Roy: Bollywood is still on top followed by pop, rock, metal (and other sub-genres), Indian classical and lastly electronica. I think it's still growing - As far as electronica is concerned it's still needs to open up to some better quality artists. Right now mostly popular artists are accepted in India. Maybe it's just a case of the audience opening up to quality acts who produce and play better music.
Ashvin: India has lots of music and a tremendous scene for classical, folk and Bollywood music. The dance music scene is literally in its nascent stage and is still growing, but the future looks bright!
What's next for you?
Arjun Vagale: More gigs and more music. I've got some wicked releases lined up for the summer. One of my remixes is currently doing well in the Beatport tech-house charts, so I'm happy. Also working on some collaborations with artists from all over, so interesting times ahead.
Ash Roy: Taking Jalebee Cartel to the next level plus concentrating on our solo projects and collaborating with various different artists for some alternate projects.
Ashvin: I think we would like to expand our musical horizons, collaborate with some artists and explore some fresh ideas for a while.
The Same 3 Questions:
3 most inspirational artists:
Arjun Vagale: Richie Hawtin, Fergie, Nic Fanciulli
Ash Roy: Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, Ustad Zakir Hussain.
Ashvin: Simon Posford, Trentmoller, The Doors
G-“Force” Arjun: Metallica, The Prodigy, Ash, Arjun & Ashvin
3 favourite albums of all time:
Arjun Vagale: Massive Attack - Mezzanine, Underworld - 92 to 02 (has all their best tracks & I own it on vinyl), Leftfield - Leftism
Ash Roy: Jalebee Cartel's - OnepointNothing, Pink Floyd - Pulse, Depeche Mode - Ultra
Ashvin: Metallica - And Justice for All, Pink Floyd - The Wall, Antix - Wanderers
G-“Force” Arjun: Metallica - Master Of Puppets, The Prodigy - Music For The Jilted Generation, Alice In Chains - MTV Unplugged
Favourite 3 artists of the moment:
Arjun Vagale: James Dutton, Yaya, Paco Osuna
Ash Roy: Josh Wink, Audiojack, Tetrameth
Ashvin: Solid Snake , Falling Cows, Dopamine
G-“Force” Arjun: System Of A Down, Ash-Arjun & Ashvin, Pentagram
If you're out in Germany, you can still catch Jalebee Cartel at these four dates, as they polish off their tour:
Jalebee Cartel @ Mikz (Berlin / GERMANY)
Arjun Vagale @ Eve Bar (Bochum / Germany)
Jalebee Cartel @ Mikz (Munich / GERMANY)
Jalebee Cartel @ Tresor (Berlin / GERMANY)
Jalebee Cartel @ Beat Plantation (Essen / GERMANY)