Art and Friction

This is the most kickin’ weekend of the entire year to be in Los Angeles if you love desi arts. I have already told you that Artwallah is THIS Saturday. You should be buying your ticket now in case it sells out (note: the after-party on Saturday is NOT sold out despite what the website says and goes until 5 a.m…and so will I). If you are a student then I’d recommend that you volunteer for a few hours to get a massive discount.

The weekend kicks off this Friday night with a little bit of a British Invasion. BBC Radio 1’s own Bobby Friction will be in Los Angeles hosting a kickoff party with Artwallah and for Project Ahimsa at the Standard on Sunset Blvd. For those of you who haven’t heard Bobby Friction and his partner DJ Nihal spin, you can listen to their latest shows online.

Sajit has covered the duo before on his own blog. Here is a snippet from the 2004 article that Sajit cites:

The fact that Friction and Nihal’s show has a primetime slot on national radio also speaks volumes for the rising profile of British Asian culture. A few years ago it would have been unthinkable to hear a Radio 1 DJ play an unreleased bhangra track to a nationwide audience. Then, in 2003, Panjabi MC’s Mundian To Bach Ke, with its sample from the theme tune to Knight Rider, became a national hit. A huge and vibrant culture, that had hitherto remained isolated, was exposed to the wider world…

While Friction grew up in an Asian community in Hounslow, Nihal was the only non-white pupil at his comprehensive school at Chelmsford, Essex. He found a sense of belonging in hip-hop culture. “When I was a teenager in the mid-80s it was fashionable to be a racist skinhead,” says Nihal. “Hip-hop completely saved me, because within a couple of years it was cool to have brown skin and be into hip-hop. Almost overnight I went from being a geeky Asian kid, who people called a Paki for no apparent reason, to being someone who people wanted in their crew to help them tag the sides of buses…” [Link]



The tunes they will be spinning should be very new to most people that represent on Friday. I’m going of course.

Ohhh…I almost forgot to mention the CAUSE they are supporting. Check it out:

The mission of Project Ahimsa is to empower youth through music. In focusing on ancient music forms, Ahimsa endeavors to create workshop programming that not only makes the music relevant to the tastes of modern young people, but also upholds the values, craft and reverence associated with the traditional forms…

Established in 2001 by a small group of young professionals, Project Ahimsa (which means nonviolence) is dedicated to fostering unity and peace through arts exchange and education. By creating opportunities for youth to explore multi-cultural artistic expression, Project Ahimsa found they could empower youth in isolated, poor and fragmented communities. Inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, they began projects that assisted disadvantaged youth in both the United States (originally in San Fransisco and Colorado, and now in the Tampa Bay area as well) and India (Ahmedabad and Kolkata). [Link]


p>In particular, all proceeds will benefit the Gandhi Community Music Center:

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Manav Sadhna and Project Ahimsa Mahatma Gandhi Community Music Center in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India. The Center will be built inside the Rampir No Tekro, the largest slum in Gujarat, across the street from Mahatma Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad. The Center will house facilities for healthcare, education, women’s empowerment and micro credit, in addition to the Community Music Center. [Link]


p>By the way, Project Ahmisa has a blog which provides details about the great work they are doing in India in case you want to get involved.



See related posts: Dhaka rock, DhamaalSF touring…. India,

4 thoughts on “Art and Friction

  1. Abhi, this photo brings back so many memories! So moved (and surprised) just seeing it. One minute soapbox, please.

    Far right of the photo is Sandeep Vaghela, a talented young artist from Ahmedabad who grew up in the slums and whose grandfather was active in India’s independence movement. Sandeep and his family live directly across the street from the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad; he’s one of Manav Sadhna’s most compelling “success stories” (for lack of a better phrase) and hopes to study here in the U.S. someday. For almost 4 years he’s been working on improving his English; we’re working with Soka University (So Cal) to try and secure a spot for him.

    Sandeep is also one of fourteen children from EKTA (“Unity”), a project Manav Sadhna did in 2002. Fourteen kids from the Ahemdabadi slums were trained in a full-fledged stage production (entitled EKTA) that chronicled the lives and messages of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, Jr. EKTA traveled to 25 cities in the U.S., visited some 75 schools/youth organizations, and raised money for these children and their families, as well as the organization itself.

    A shout to Project Ahimsa (Darian, Robin, amazing folks). Truly an amazing organization doing work with Manav Sadhna & other kids. Chicago mutineers might know of Viren Joshi (one of MS’s founders–standing next to Sandeep in the photo). If you’re in Chi-town, look this man up. He’s there now (half-year in India, half in US). I guarantee you’ll learn something.

    Last plug: the Community Center that Abhi mentioned, being built in Ramapir no Tekro just down the road from the Gandhi Ashram–it is truly a sight unseen. This organization and these people don’t just believe in Gandhian principles of self-sustainability and upliftment, they live them.

  2. SP, that’s a pretty amazing story…

    Abhi, sooooooooooooooooooooo jealous. I listen to Friction and Nihal all the time…boooo. they’re on the wrong coast (from me).

  3. looking forward to the british invasion! Friction rocks, and such a vibrant and positive personality…glad to see him supporting Project Ahimsa, and being there for Artwallah. Both organizations are pushing the best in south Asian art activism, and it makes me very happy!

  4. I can’t wait for South Asian DJs to be as mainstream here in the US as they are in the UK. I think in general, the South Asian culture is more mainstream over there. I think we’re starting to see some action here, with Lil’ Jay remixes getting spins on KTU 103.5 in New York recently. I’ve seen his vinyl getting good reviews on some sites. I hear he’s getting frequent airplay on BBC, and not just the Bobby & Nihal show.

    That album cover reminds me of Rawkus’ Soundbombing Vol. 2 CD cover. If you haven’t heard it, it’s a classic. Tracks 3,4, & 20 are probably the best.