by Pooja Patel
Hi BG Readers! Summer is here and it is beautiful outside! It’s time to update your music playlist and jam out on all your summer excursions.
Looking for a great find? We at BG had the opportunity to chat with none other than UK’s Magical Anjali. You may have heard some of her tunes on the Mean Girls soundtrack or the track Stinging Sitars on a few Samsung Blackjack commercials. We’re sure you’re gonna love her psychedelic melodies and stellar sitar tracks!
BrownGirl: I’ve been a fan of yours for years now. I’m so excited to finally have the opportunity to talk to you! I love your sense of style, both in the music you produce and they way you project yourself. What do you consider your top influences? What inspires you as an artist?
Anjali: Thanks for your compliments! My influences come in all shapes and forms, I love tinkering with vintage keyboards and creating new sounds I also listen to a vast amount of music from all kinds of genres, I love collecting vinyl and sourcing obscure sitar tracks that I can throw into my dj set. I’m influenced by all things esoteric from the pantheon of Hindu Goddesses to weird and wonderful film soundtracks like Kosmos and 2001 Space Odyssey to retro Bollywood. Everytime I travel to a new destination I seem to collect an introspective experience that inspires my music in some way…especially with travels to India.
BG: How would you describe your music? Where did you get your start?
Anjali: Describing ones own music is always a trying task! But I guess it’s quite a varied amalgamation of sounds and flavours with exotic beats and retro flourishes!
I was always in bands and writing songs, I was in an all girl band called Voodoo Queens and we played our first ever gig with only three songs supporting the band Cornershop in London. The legendary late great BBC Radio One DJ John Peel was at the gig and loved our raucous three song set and offered us a Peel session on his radio show on the spot! We had to write a fourth song pretty quick because we were invited into the BBC studios to record four songs for broadcast on his influencial radio show. We were offered a record deal soon after that and I guess that I have been doing music semi-professionally ever since! So I’m always really thankful to John Peel.
BG: Did you always know you wanted to be a musician? As a woman of South Asian descent, how did your parents react when they found out that you didn’t want to pursue a career considered mainly ‘typical’ ? How did you overcome the obstacles you faced with your parents?
Anjali: My father bought me a guitar when I was eleven so I always blame him for getting me into music! However I think he was hoping that I would play cute little classical songs but I got into punk and alternative music! Luckily for me my parents have always been really open minded and encouraged me to follow my creative instincts even though they had to put up with a lot of rebellion in the process.
BG: Have you noticed any adversities in your career because of your background? Or do your Indian roots give you the extra edge that sets you apart from your peers?
Anjali: Luckily I havn’t experienced adversities because of my background if anything it can be an advantage. Having such a rich culture and heritage to dip into is a positive thing and it is great being able to fuse influences from both eastern and western cultures into a sonic tapestry. Having access to my parents Bollywood film soundtracks and indeed being taken to watch the Indian film classics while growing up has been a fabulous influence!
BG: What type of music do you like to listen to? Who are some of your favorite artists?
Anjali: I hate music snobbery and I listen to most things with an open mind and independent ears! Some of my favourite artists are Siouxie and the Banshees, Kate Bush, Bollywood film composer R.D Burman, Alice Coltrane, Kraftwerk and Sonic Youth amongst a multitude of others…
BG: What’s currently playing on your iPod?
Anjali: I havn’t got an iPod, I tend to work with headphones mostly when I’m writing my music and I try and limit my headphone usage for the sake of my bleeding ears! However I’m currently listening to an album by UK artist Nikesh Shukla (aka Yamboy) called “Kidologies And Amazing Fantasies” and I’m also listening to the Grizzly Bear album.
BG: Anything quirky or interesting you’d like to share with our readers?
Anjali: I almost lost my whole album in a computer crash and I hadn’t backed up!! Which is shameful. Data Recovery phoned me to tell me that they had managed to retrieve nothing from my hard drive…I was so distraught and in shock and couldn’t believe it. I had planned a trip to India and was due to leave the next day, I was going on a pilgrimage to the holy mountain Vaishno Devi In Jammu and Kashmir, there is a saying that those who do the tough climb up to the top of the mountain have a wish fulfilled… I got back to London four weeks later and got a call from my friend who had tried to help me retrieve my album, data recovery had called him the day before I arrived home and they had somehow managed to find my album data in the depths of my damaged hard drive!
BG: As a publication geared towards inspiring strong, independent, young woman, do you have anything that you can share with us that would help connect with our readers? How have you risen against the problems you’ve encountered? Any advice you’d like to offer?
Anjali: I think that if you have a desire to do something that is not necessarily seen as an expected career route it’s important to take a chance and follow your heart. Taking risks is important and being obsessed with just making money is not the be all and end all in life. I think that following a creative path is not easy and you have to be made of stern stuff to follow it through…and be able to live very frugally at times. But there is no point of just dipping a toe in the water, it’s best to just dive right in and with a strong belief and dedication anything is possible! I invest everything in my music. Everything goes straight back into music related subjects from buying vinyl to studio time to purchasing equipment! Ok, I throw in the odd handbag or three but they are most useful for carrying hard drives around too!
BG: I read on your blog that your latest CD is ready. Can you give us an exclusive as to what we can expect in your latest work? How has this latest project differed from your work in the past?
Anjali: It really is a mixed bag of goodies, from midnight down tempo moods to psychedelic guitars and sitars swerving through exotic percussion and electronic beats. There are all kinds of interesting sounds flying around and sweet melodies too! The way this album differs from my past albums is that all the songs were mixed in the same analogue studio whereas in the past tracks were mixed and recorded in a few different places, so I feel as though the album has a more unified sound. I also used a lot more live musicians from live brass, sitars and tablas to lowry organs. I co-produced tracks with Count Dubulah who is a renown World music producer and songwriter. I enjoyed the collaborations and working with talented musicians such as John Eacott who has also played trumpet and flugelhorn on Damon Albarns Monkey Opera and organist Rory More who has just recently worked on a Kanye West production.
BG: Can you describe what the past few years have been like, with getting exposure on the Mean Girls soundtrack, being featured in the Samsung blackjack commercial awhile back, etc?
Anjali: They have been great opportunities for me and my music, especially coming from an independent background where I never had a huge major record label trying to actively sell my music for me, so for my tracks to have picked up like that is a testament to the fact that I always tried to stay true to what sounds I love creating rather than following trends. It goes to show that opportunities are there for even the most unknown, leftfield artists! In fact being in the niche “market” can sometimes be advantageous because there are not necessarily thousands of other acts that sound like you and you may have more of a chance of your music standing out.
BG: Any plans on performing in the States anytime soon?
Anjali: I’m organizing a set of dj gigs at the moment mostly in Europe but I hope to come over towards the end of the year, Will keep you posted!
BG: What else can we look forward from you in the future?
Anjali: My new album for starters and them some! I’m also working on a few projects at the moment, including composing some instrumental pieces for a short film. So there will be lots of new music to tuck into in the near future!
Check out Anjali’s website to catch glimpse of her fun, exoctic sense of style at: http://www.anjali.org.uk/
You can also sample a few of her amazing tracks on her myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/magicalanjali