"Nyege Nyege : the Irresistible Urge to Dance" - Bridging the cultural gap between India and Africa.
Compass Music recently interviewed Aneesha Kotwani, founder of the Indian collective WAVLGHTN, on her experience attending the main electronic music festival in East Africa : Nyege Nyege festival ! Going to "Nyege Nyege" was part of one of Aneesha’s goals : to promote cultural exchanges between India and Africa, and to highlight global cultural projects.
The event has been exploring the underground music and arts of the whole continent since 2015 and brought 9000 attendees to Uganda from all over the world for its last physical edition. Resident Advisor and FACT have named it one of the world’s best electronic festivals.
The below documentary captures the feeling of the audience and artists attending the festival, and the particular atmosphere created by the unique line-up and vision of the founders, that makes Nyege Nyege such a must-see for music lovers.
We interview the documentary's Creative Director Aneesha Kotwani:
1. Aneesha, can you introduce yourself and WAVLNGTH ?
Sure! My name is Aneesha Kotwani and I run a music and culture agency based in Mumbai called WAVLNGTH where we primarily look into creative strategy for artists, production (events/tours) and content creation. Over the years, I have been able to further refine the offerings of what we do because of the constant growth in my own personal journey as I continue to mould and build on my character, evolve in how I perceive things which reflects in the kind of work/projects I’d like to execute - curate. I have enjoyed linking the personality of Aneesha with the work that WAVLNGTH puts out in a way where my identity is similar to that of any music lover.
2. What brought you to Nyege Nyege festival ? Tell us more about your experience at the festival.
I had my eyes on Nyege Nyege Festival for a while. I dug more deeper into finding out more when I saw Anu on the line up as a part of the NTS collaboration. We were also doing a NTS collaboration in India so the festival came up upon my research. I often spend my summers hitting up festivals across the globe - most of the time offering to work so that I can continue building on a network and did the same with Nyege Nyege Festival. Reaching out initially was more with the intention of exploring how we can collaborate with Indian and African artists and bring the two cultures closer. This led to being invited to attend the festival but because it’s not often one goes to Africa, I wanted to create a content piece around the festival and that’s how everything came together.
The experience was life-changing. I am grateful that I could witness this before the Covid-19 crisis took over, as the richness of African music and culture has left me in awe and I have nothing but respect for all the creators who have so much to offer to the music ecosystem.
3. As a music professional based in India, can you compare East African and Indian live industries?
Wow ! This is such an interesting question. I think there is a lot of diversity that the African and Indian culture offer that reflects in the music. However, a lot of the Independent Indian music scene is influenced by western culture but recently we have been seen a lot of artists cultivate a sort of fusion where they are trying to integrate their heritage but not in a predictable usual manner. Africa and it’s artists take a lot of pride in where they come from and the music that stems from their roots see so many electronic influences whereas the music that stem from Indian roots would be Bollywood, classical, regional making both the scenes vibrant in their own right.
4. How do you contribute to bring Indian music to the global map with WAVLNGTH ?
When I started WAVLNGTH, I knew I wanted to tour international artists to India because that is where my true journey with music started. A lot of artists that I have toured do a lot more than just make music or DJ. They run labels, or have previously worked in the industry and are tastemakers and curators in their own right. It’s always nice to work with people who have an all round holistic experience of working in the music industry and if they have a great experience in India and are happy with how things have been executed for them - it really helps in building a solid relationship where you can also reach out to them to support music from Indian musicians.
Since I now manage two artists from India, a lot of relationships that I have built via touring and of course with linked in by my side - it’s easier to share stuff with them and get any support, recommendations, introductions whatsoever. Whatever comes our way, we are grateful.
5.How do you think Africa and India can work on a cultural partnership, specifically around music ?
I think the use of languages and instruments could be very exciting as both countries have so much uniqueness to offer there. Also from a conceptualisation point of view there can be a lot of synergies in the message that the artists would like to communicate through their music.
I think Africa as a music market has been garnering a lot of momentum but my intuition says India is not far behind. To see the underrepresented music communities gaining a strong presence within the international industry definitely is a more fulfilling and enriching experience.