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19/Nov
Aditi Dharmadhikari
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Delhi Sultanate Is Building India’s First Mobile Reggae Sound System. Here’s How You Can Help.

[Log in to the campaign page on Indiegogo to contribute and be a part of this exciting journey.]

Delhi Sultanate‘s (AKA Taru Dalmia) new crowdfunding project on Indiegogo promises to take the music out of clubs, and straight to the people. Launched just two days ago, the idea is to bring to India a mobile, Jamaican-style sound system with powerful, handbuilt speaker stacks, with an emphasis on the bass so that the music is not just heard, but physically felt.

Whether it’s as a part of New Delhi-based BASSFoundation Roots, the lead singer of India’s first ska, reggae and rocksteady band The Ska Vengers, or his solo moniker Delhi Sultanate, he’s been pushing the sound system culture for years now. Also the founder of the not-for-profit organization Word Sound Power that creates films and musical collaborations around issues of social justice in India, he hopes to bring the unique sonic culture of sound systems to people in various cities and villages across the country.

How The Idea Came About

“The idea came from a few different places,” Delhi Sultanate explains. “Ever since I first felt bass music back at my first reggae dances in Europe, I dreamt of being able to bring this extraordinary experience to India. When a lot of KRUNK artists from India travelled to perform at Outlook Festival (one of the biggest bass music festivals in the world) in Croatia a few years ago, we began to think more seriously about how to achieve this goal.

“Another strong inspiration behind this project has been Janam, a street theatre group founded by Safdar Hashmi, which I joined in 2000 when I returned to India. Apart from street plays, Janam had also constructed a mobile stage, with the understanding that only certain people come to auditoriums to watch plays. He wanted to be able to take the stage to the people, and in a way, the sound system idea is not much different.”

What Is Sound System Culture?

A worldwide phenomenon today, the sound system concept traces its roots back to the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1950’s, when DJs would load up a truck with a generator, turntables, and huge speakers and set up street parties for the community, and sound system culture quickly became an integral part of Reggae music. It became a means to relay news, understand the hardships and suffering of those in Jamaica and to learn about Rastafari.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Why India Needs a Sound System

Delhi Sultanate makes a strong case, “I feel that independent music culture has suffered not from a dearth of talent in the country, but mainly two things — the scarcity of venues where non-commercial music is played, and secondly, the dependence on sponsors.” While music has the ability to bring people of different backgrounds together, the fact remains that India is a very socially segregated country; and not everyone can afford to frequent exclusive venues like clubs.

“I also like the idea of collaborating with artists and performers from other fields,” he explains. “Dancers or performance artists for instance could benefit from having a powerful sound system at their shows that will impact people physically.” Having a sound system could lift the limitations to make for a much more inclusive context.

Gear Talk

The scoops and kick bass speakers have already been built at personal cost, and while the sound speakers are built and painted by hand, for amps and pre-amps, the idea is to source only the best components. The equipment needs to be able to withstand rugged touring, and also re-produce the sound optimally, to give people the real, amazing experience of a Jamaican sound system.

The details of the components are listed on the campaign page, and any additional funds will be put towards a car (A FORCE delivery Van 7.7 L — US$11000) to store the sound system (as well as to hit the road with), and other requirements like speaker paint and cables. As for the challenges of the endeavour, “Owning one’s own system is the only way around the high cost of hiring a sound system; we need to gain experience running the whole thing.”

delhisult

With crowdfunding, Delhi Sultanate hopes that fans of reggae music, as well as those with a healthy appreciation for music and the arts, can come together and contribute towards this vision and help get it off the ground.

The First Few Stops

“The first few dances will probably be in Delhi — maybe in JNU — in a low-key way, so that we can learn the ropes of handling the speakers and amps,” he explains his future plans. “After that, the North East is probably going to be one of the first places where we will tour. A friend of mine from Shillong suggested basing the system there for a season, renting a community or wedding halls. We could also tour villages in the surrounding areas.”

In addition to being part of a pioneering project like this, there are also several exciting perks lined up for campaign backers ranging from tunes, dubplates and a vinyl mixed by legendary dub pioneer Scientist (recorded on Delhi Sultanate and Begum X’s 2014 trip to Kabul, Afghanistan), to hoodie gift sets and backers’ names inscribed on the speakers.

[Log in to the campaign page on Indiegogo to contribute and be a part of this exciting journey.]

Aditi Dharmadhikari

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