Interview conducted by Michael Cupoli
Kartik Pillai is an amazing electronic musician based out of New Dehli who goes by the stage name of Jamblu. The music that Jamblu makes is based on chance and non-intentional production. Recently, Jamblu has toured through Europe and had a great time playing at the Red Light Radio, which is located in the heart of the red light district in Amsterdam. In addition to Jamblu, Kartik is involved with several other projects in New Dehli called Peter Cat Recording Company and Begum that are quite different from Jamblu. Nasty Wizard Recordings has made the album Jamblu recorded for REProduce Artists called Bone Ringing available in Beijing.
From what I could gather you have a number of different musical projects. Could please describe your background in music?
Kartik: I started playing music quite early in life having learnt the piano when I was very young. Then I became a self taught guitarist and drummer in high school. Played for a few bands before my higher education in Audio Engineering, Electronic Media and Film Studies during which I became very interested in cymatic frequencies, dissonant and glitch music and production in general. Recently started teaching myself the trumpet.
How did you start doing Jamblu? It seems to be quite different from your other projects.
Kartik: Jamblu was my first solo project in 2009 when I was creating a piece for a short film for my brother that later turned into Baiano. Before that I basically started experimenting with cymatic frequencies, initially messing around with a pianos envelope to create loping sounds and creating frequency-based triggers. I quickly went into chance music and borrowing from my writing background automatic production (non-intentional production). In 2013, I realized I had built up around 12 tracks, so I decided to release them. The name came out of a conversation with a friend when he suggested Jamlu to my Champloo.
There are some pictures of you with various gear. What equipment do you use?
Kartik: I use:
– Effect Pedals which include companies such as Red Panda(delay), Tc Electronic(delay), Boss(distortion, delay, ), Digitech(pitch shifter, reverb, delay,), Big Muff(fuzz), Ibanez(tube screamer), Malekko(reverb),
– recently added an apc40 to the rig,
– pocket operators – rhythm and sub (teenage engineering/cheap monday)
– volca sampler
– macbook pro
– midi keyboard
Congratulations on being listed on the MTV Indies The Best Electronic Acts of 2014. You even were ranked higher than Sandunes whom the MTV editors seem to be in love with. What does a list like this mean to you? How important is MTV in India?
Kartik: I don\’t know if there was a ranking in the list…. The list, its nice to be featured but it didn\’t really change anything for me and didn\’t really mean anything either. MTV by itself is a joke here. It’s more of soap opera channel for teenagers rather than a music channel, its quite embarrassing to be honest. They have another channel called MTV Indies, which is primarily a music channel, but again due to the need for trp\’s has bastardized itself quite heavily.
In addition to Jamblu, you have two other projects called Peter Cat Recording Co. and Begum. What are these two bands like and how are they different from Jamblu?
Kartik: Jamblu is on a much darker plane sonically and content wise (graphic representations) and is made heavily under the umbrella of chance music. Begum is a sort of indie ambient jam based outfit, we believe in the live experience more than anything else. PCRC is a songwriter focused band and it’s more clinical and research oriented than the other acts.
What do you play in Peter Cat Recording Co. and Begum? What is your role in terms of song writing and making decisions for these bands?
Kartik: PCRC, I play guitars, keyboards and trumpet, I get to write parts and add to the artwork/music videos/merchandise for the band along with other executive decisions, also assisting with recording of the music. In Begum, I play guitars keyboards melodica and vocals. I\’m the main songwriter in Begum and also handle the recording/mixing/mastering process.
You recently toured Europe as Jamblu. How did that tour go? How are audiences different/similar to those in New Delhi?
Kartik: The crowd in Europe seems to be more respectful of artists, music being an integral part of their lives and even though the market seems to me to be quite saturated it is very welcoming. The tour was great. I got to collaborate with some great artists and play at some great venues not counting my extremely helpful hosts. I came back invigorated and ready to produce as much music as possible, along with other art projects. Delhi on the other hand still has a confused audience, who doesn\’t quite know what to do with themselves. They mostly end up getting drunk and obnoxiously trying to shout over the band/act that is playing on stage.
What was it like to play on Red Light Radio? It must be different from a regular live show because you can\’t really see most of your audience.
Kartik: Red Light Radio was great, the ambience, the indoor smoking and the people there are extremely welcoming. I have a habit of not looking up from my rig, so its pretty much the same for me, if I\’m playing to a wall or to a crowd. A few tourists came in to ask for sex, but they were quickly discouraged.
When you were walking through the Red Light District to get there, did you feel awkward and were like why are these women knocking on the glass, calling at me or was it more like, this is nothing special because I\’m Jamblu and this happens everywhere I go?
Kartik: Haha, I visited the Red Light District much before the day of the show and except for one very aggressive lady it was all in a days work. The only reason it was awkward was because I saw several guided tours with Chinese/Indian/American families with little children walking around in groups with a tour guide (with a bullhorn) looking at the red women. I was there for the weed and the smart shops. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed by the whole prostitution scene especially since there were no male prostitutes which gave me the feeling that perhaps the scene in Amsterdam is not as open and is still very much a mans world. It would have been a treat to see women buying men for once.
The second Jamblu album called Bone Ringing has just been released on tape in Beijing. The B side contains music that is off of your first album called Depth Training. Why did you decide to release them as the B side?
Kartik: I tried my best to streamline the music in someway or the other. I wanted the A side to represent an updated version of what I was doing and where I was musically. The B side to be more of a mixer.
On Depth Training, there is a track called 开朗的鸡. How good is your Chinese?
Kartik: My Mandarin is deplorable and my Cantonese is near perfect (not really). I don\’t know if it translates into what I wanted it to. It’s supposed to say enlightened chicken.
Your bandmate Lifafa recently came to play some shows in China. Do you have any plans to come here in the future?
Kartik: I don’t have any concrete plans, but I\’m trying my best to come to China. I\’m very excited by the music scene there. I read somewhere that noise rock is pop music in China, that’s amazing. Definitely seems like somewhere I\’d want to be.
Keep an eye out for one of Jamblu\’s cassette tapes at the next Nasty Wizard Recordings event!