Exclusive Album Launch: Twerkistan — Su Real
New Delhi bass producer and trapmaster Su Real is back with ‘Twerkistan,’ his second full-length album, packed with desi bass bangers and catchy dance beats. Growing organically as a follow-up to his debut album ‘Trapistan’, this album charts a journey into a different mythical land, featuring collaborations with a range of artists including Tanya Nambiar, P-Man and Ritviz. While Su Real‘s DJ set has always been about bringing the latest Western dance music into a homegrown context, his music production has consistently gone on to reflect this as well.
“With this album, we shift focus from trap music and onto the booties shaking on the dancefloor,” the producer tells us about his latest release, which he has been working on for the past year.
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The head-turning artwork by Kunal Lodhia (of Grime Riot Disco/Magnetic Fields) evokes the legendary temples of Khajuraho, and speaks boldly of a land ruled by women.
“I enlisted him as early as July 2015, actually, with just two reference points — Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda‘ cover and Savita Bhabi. He drew multiple versions by hand over many months, in intricate detail, until he got it just right. He then scanned it in and coloured it digitally to give it his trademark effect. We definitely wanted something daring, yet at the same time something that young desi women could identify with and appreciate. For example, I was insistent that my Twerkistani rani have chocolate brown skin, rather than some fair and lovely monstrosity. This cover is a tribute to all the strong, independent desi women I have known, and their beautiful round and brown booties.”
“The Twerkistan video made in collaboration with Tanya Nambiar and Lights on Films was my most involved video to date,” Su Real elaborates on the process. “For me, it was an epic feat of DIY film-making, largely thanks to Lights On Films. While the single’s music evokes the desert, the lyrics depict the Sultan of Twerkistan, who is on a quest to reclaim his rightful throne that had been usurped by an imposter.
“It was important to get some dancers involved, and to try to portray twerking in a TV-friendly manner for Indian audiences. Dancer/choreographers Nishi Joshi and Shambhavee Sharma rose to the challenge — I was ecstatic to find them as they seem to be at the forefront of an underground dance scene in Delhi that even I was unaware of.”
A crew of 10 from Delhi and Mumbai set out on a two-day quest of D.I.Y. filming in the sun and sand of Jodhpur to chart the terrains of Twerkistan. As for hiccups with the censor board, “Ironically, once the video was ready, it wasn’t the twerking or empowered females that irked the censor board but the camels. Fortunately, we still have the Internet, and the Internet is cool with camels.”
With a range of collaborations on the album with the likes of Ritviz, Mr Doss and P-Man, Su Real tells us, “The collaborators on the album are all people whose work I respect, and friends who supported the Twerkistan effort. I think it was important to be clear up front on the release plans, and purpose of the track, after which we could get on a same page with the track regarding concept and style etc. What worked best was when collaborators sent me a few raw tracks to work with and develop.
“Ritviz sent me a few killer synth lines for example, that I then built the track around; whereas Mr. Doss sent me a superhit beat, that I then added the topline vocals and synths on top of. With the more lyrical tracks like Soldiers, Jhook Gyal, Pakis in Paris, I definitely wanted something specific when it came to the lyrics. I learnt it’s important to remember that part of the reason for collaborating is — division of labour to save time, while still combining everyone’s unique strengths to develop a superior product.”
Having spent the past year working on his production technique and developing formulae and templates that work for him, Su Real has also been working on a feedback loop from his his favourite producers like Nucleya, Frame/Frame, Arsh Sharma of Fuzzculture and Sid Vashi. “My biggest takeaway from all this time in the game is ‘less talk, more rock’. You have got to put in the work, and don’t get it twisted — the music business is hard work and it can be unrewarding for the longest time before you start to see returns. You have to stay humble, and be grateful for what you have.”
After mapping the worlds of ‘Trapistan’ and ‘Twerkistan’, Su Real plans to focus on putting out as much quality music as possible, besides clearing up the backlog of pending collabs and unfinished tracks on the docket. “In dance music, trends change daily and I’ve got to stay on top of that. I hope to finish a couple of EP’s in slightly different genres, before focusing on the finale to the Trapistan/Twerkistan trilogy, tentatively titled Murdabad.”