The past few years has seen South Asians across the diaspora attempt to control the narrative on how we are perceived and depicted. In attempting this, an aspect of community has formed where people have huddled together under one umbrella. But, as the diaspora continues to have the spotlight of white gaze shone upon it, creatives back home in South Asia are unfortunately left to clamour for a sliver of the same publicity.
The past decade has seen underground scenes bubble ferociously in Pakistan and India while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal have laid solid foundations down. There are hundreds of compelling artists, labels, producers, DJs and festivals in the region: Dhaka boasts an intriguing DIY electronic music scene while Colombo’s deep house and acid house production is unparalleled; Bangalore is home to Consolidate, one of the best labels in the region while Azadi Records spotlights Kashmiri artists when no one else does. Pakistan’s creative scene may be underfunded but it doesn’t stop its artists from releasing thought-provoking, enthralling music. Nepalese artists have rebuilt their scene after the horrific 2015 earthquake which killed 9,000 people, promoting a space where the rest of South Asian artists can congregate.
Making up nearly 25% of the world’s population, countries in South Asia deserve to be spotlighted in their own right. The creatives within the region have insurmountable issues to overcome: from financial disparity to passport and visa hurdles; a lack of infrastructural stability has also ensured there is a vacuum when it comes to who is able to make an impact outside of the region. These issues are underpinned by a massive population and cash flow imbalance which has ensured there is an inequality of labels, artists and radio stations, wherein India, for example, would have many more of each than, say, Bangladesh. The dearth of each in some of these countries speaks to how much work still needs to be put in so that more creatives in these regions can blossom.
Hopefully, by highlighting interesting artists, labels, collectives and radio stations across South Asia, support can be garnered for these grassroots organisations whose footing has been muddied during the pandemic. (Editor’s note: we are aware of the lack of coverage for artists in the Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan, please feel free to email us to spotlight your work.)
This content was originally published here.