I’m not quite sure how I stumbled into Chaiwalla’s BOOMbox, but it quickly became my blog addiction. I looked forward to posts like like a fat kid to cake – I was guaranteed good music tinged with Desi flavor, sometimes with a video and more often than not with a free music download. I was beyond curious to see who were the chaiwallas behind the BOOMbox and to figure out how the heck they had found enough addictive music for daily doses. Little did I know that the six-month long project had taken off, going from blog to record label, with their first album by San Francisco based DJ Janaka Selekta dropping this July.
I got the chance to interview Umar Akbar and Tarun Nayar, the duo behind the BOOMbox for the mutinous horde. And for your listening pleasure, the chaiwallas are providing a FREE DOWNLOAD off of Janaka Selekta‘s forthcoming album “Pushing Air” EXCLUSIVELY for Sepia Mutiny readers.
What is Chaiwalla’s BOOMBox? Why did you choose to use blog as format?
Well CWBB is the story of a Boombox that’s been put under a spell by a Shaman. Unfortunately the boombox is still only 80 watts, so its not that loud but the blog can be heard on millions of computer speakers simultaneously, which is why we did it.
Who are the two chaiwallas behind the BOOMBox? Where are you based?
Well the real Mr. Chaiwalla is actually out saving the world from really bad music and villain’s, so he has entrusted us, Tarun Nayar and Umar Akbar with his sacred mission. We are based out of Western Canada.
Do you guys make your own music?
Yes, 1/2 of CWBB does. Tarun Nayar is a band member in Delhi 2 Dublin and is currently touring there new EP Planet Electric. Tarun is also scheduled to release his solo project sometime this Fall under CWBB. Why music?
Well if your not passionate about your work you’ll never be able to hit that 10,000 hour mark which is required to have success. The 10,000 hour rule is taken from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.
On July 6th Chaiwallah BOOMBox shifts into the second phase – can you tell us a little more about what it is turning into?
July 6th is our debut release as a label with Janaka Selekta’s Pushing Air. We intend to be the future home of EPIC releases in the market of new South Asian music. We have the most artist friendly contracts in the industry and plan to make a some big splashes.
The blog highlights all these amazing fusion underground music influenced by Desh. Where do you find your music? How does a musician get his/her music on your site or your label?
If you want your music posted on our site, simply upload it to our soundcloud account, we have a DROPBOX icon on the front page of the site for this to happen. Our music comes from all sorts of areas like myspace, soundcloud and even artists championing themselves on facebook. Though the number one source are the artist relations we have been building over the past few years, its so much more easier to get exclusive content when your in constant dialog with the people making the music.
What inspired you to start this blog?
The cost to make music has drastically dropped in recent years and with sites like soundcloud the music community now has a platform to share there work but alot of it is still junk or really tough to find. We wanted to meet this challenge by offering a central location to find new music via free downloads and purchase links. We do all the work and you get to have a cool playlist, hence the birth of chaiwalla.
What are the top five albums/artists that your are listening to right now?
What musician/artist should we keep on our radar as the “next big thing?”
Janaka Selekta, he is a skillful DJ earning him the title of “Best DJ” in his hometown San Francisco and he’s remixed accomplished mover and shakers like Karsh Kale, Cheb i Sabbah and the Asian Dub Foundation. That’s why we signed Janaka to our label because we felt Pushing Air is one of most breathe taking albums we have heard in awhile.
How does your identity as South Asian of the diaspora influence your music/lyrics/projects?
Well being of South Asian heritage in North America is definitely interesting. We will never be completely Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan or Bengali and we will never be truly Canadian or American. It’s this middle world we live in and creating a hybrid culture is very important – this has happened before in history with the Chicano culture, a hybrid of the American and Mexican. We are seeing signs of similar developments in modern South Asian culture with people code-switching between Hindi and English and especially the music with bass and sitars. Being South Asian is the driving mechanism behind CWBB and we like to think we are helping evolve modern South Asian culture but the bigger picture is to inspire people with great music.
If you could collaborate with anyone or anything, who would it be?
I think Danger Mouse and Delhi 2 Dublin would be a deadly combination and Thievery Corporation working with Janaka Selekta would be out of this world.
If you could make Chaiwallah BOOMbox ideally epic, how would you do it?
Finding and releasing great music will always be our formula for success and as we sign more artists their success will no doubt make us epic. Though CWBB is also about the underdog and his magical machine, we have a story to tell and its the perfect way to branch out into other forms of media and have a viral effect.
How do you like your chai spiced?
Traditional Kashmiri chai with crushed almonds. You should chai it sometime.
I suggest you chai out Chaiwalla’s BOOMbox here. I promise you’ll love it.