Tracing Delhi 2 Dublin’s Influences
band member Tarun Nayar speaks on the atmosphere of the group’s first rehearsals and explains that their music is more about having fun than preserving the essence of the different influences that inform their sound.
By: Brandon E. Roos
While speaking in a van crossing the roads of western Canada, Delhi 2 Dublin member Tarun Nayar (tabla, electronics) made light of an exchange with a fan after a show a while back. The fan wondered how his band sounded so good pulling from such a vast array of influences. Nayar’s response was matter of fact: “It’s because we only play the stuff that sounds good.”
True, the rehearsal process eliminates sounds that go nowhere, but the fan’s question speaks to a certain wonder attached to the Vancouver-based quintet, who will be performing as part of San Jose Jazz’s Winter Fets 2013. Their influences on paper seem jarring; listening to these sounds co-mingle, however, proves the pairings are much more organic. You hear genres as varied as bhangra, Irish traditional, reggae / dub and electronic — sometimes within the span of a single track.
Delhi 2 Dublin’s formation happened by chance. The members were originally brought together for a show called “Delhi to Dublin” as part of a St. Patrick’s Day show in 2006. “We all came from our tradition of doing different things,” Nayar recalls.
Despite being pieced together from multiple bands, their original songs formed rather quickly. “In the beginning, it happened really easily, which is why we exist — whatever worked, we sort of built from there,” says Nayar. After the show was a hit, the musicians knew they had something special, and Delhi 2 Dublin soon followed.
Tracing back the influences, Nayar says the Indian and bhangra influence comes from the group’s four males. Their Irish / Celtic influence, conversely, is much more specific.
“The lady in the band brings out the Irish,” he explains, referring to fiddle player Sara Fitzpatrick. When not a part of the group, Fitzpatrick plays traditional Irish music. Nayar, originally from Montreal, comes from a classical music upbringing, which adds a different dynamic approach to the creative process.
Nayar remembers that “Apples,” still a fan favorite, was the third song the group ever penned. While jamming, former fiddle player Kytami started with an Irish reel, a standard dance melody. Vocalist Sanjay Seran layered a standard Indian folk melody on top, and the pairing stood out. “You could tell the magic was there,” Nayar says. “There’s definitely a formula there: you can take any Irish reel, add a melody on top of it, and put a standard bhangra beat on top.”
When asked about being labeled the “United Nations of rock and roll,” Nayar insists they’re just the sum of their experiences. Any cultural connections happen without an agenda in mind. “We don’t think of it like a cultural experience. That’s why world music purists don’t get it,” he explains. “We’re not trying to promote a cultural experience. Just like any band, we want to play music that we like, but because we’re playing music people aren’t familiar with, it’s called ‘cultural’ or ‘world.’”
Nayar adds that Delhi 2 Dublin’s music isn’t created with the intention of preserving a certain sound. Instead, it’s about getting people to move, regardless of how jarring the musical collisions may seem to some. “There’s no way to preserve the essence. We’re bastardizing it so much, there’s no way to keep it traditional,” he notes.
Though they’ve parlayed their initial success as a one-off act into a dance party that’s toured the globe, Nayar insists Delhi 2 Dublin is “still a tiny band in Canada.” Yet as their sound seems to indicate, labels seem incapable of properly defining, or quantifying, this group of musical free spirits.