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Photo by Zacharie Rabehi

Hennessy artistry is proud to host Delhi Sultanate at what is sure to be one of the best music gigs at Bangalore’s Ice Bar next weekend. Apart from his solo career, Taru Dalmia is also a founding member and MC of BASSFoundation, New Delhi’s first dubstep and drum and bass sound system, and lead singer of The Ska Vengers. In 2010, he started ‘Word, Sound and Power’ along with producer Chris McGuinness. The organisation is dedicated to producing documentary films and musical collaborations featuring revolutionary singers from different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Here he discusses his new solo project, his recent tour to the Outlook Festival in Croatia and his love for reggae / dancehall culture.



You were in Bombay recently to showcase your solo project BASSFoundation Roots Sound System. What’s it all about?
BASSFoundation Roots is my own sound system. I used to live in Germany as a kid and had a sound system there when I was about 15. I’ve been collecting records ever since and on BASSFoundation Roots I play strictly vinyl and some of genres that preceded the jungle and dubstep we play on the regular BASSFoundation nights. It’s about sharing some of the tunes I love and also the particular kind of reggae culture that made such a deep impact on my life. I’ve also cut a lot of dub plates from Jamaica exclusively for this sound and take pride in the fact that most of my dub plates are original ideas. My orientation is more towards roots and cultural sounds, I play a lot of different Jamaican genres from dub to dancehall but there will always be a healthy dose of Rastafari inspired “reality” tunes. 


Can you tell us a little about the second edition of the Word, Sound, Power project, Blood Earth? What do you have planned with the material that you’ve recorded with the musicians?
Blood Earth was filmed and recorded in Kucheipadar, an adivasi village in Orissa’s Kashipur district. Like many parts of the country, the place is essentially a conflict zone where people are trying to defend themselves against a neo colonial onslaught. We are working on a musical album and a film. We exhibited the material earlier this year in Delhi and a second exhibition is planned for Bombay in 2013. We also have a lot of great producers collaborating with us on remixes. Jazzsteppa contributed an absolutely heavy tune, which we will release later this year. All the Blood Earth music will be released for free in the coming months on



Are there any updates on the Bant Singh Project ?

Well, there is still one song waiting to be released. Bant Singh sang a song about Bhagat Singh Shaheed and got Sizzla from Judgement Yard Jamaica to contribute a verse as well. This was very big for me because Sizzla is an iconic figure and has been a major inspiration for me for the past 15 years. We will bring this out later this year on vinyl with Subatomic Sound System NY.



You’ve toured outside the country in the past few months. What was your experience like performing in Washington DC and at the Outlook Festival in Croatia?
It was a great experience to represent what we’ve been doing here the past few years overseas, especially amongst a reggae-listening community. We got a lot of respect, which was very encouraging for me. Also, reggae is reality music and I feel like I can let the massive in DC know about things that are happening in our country. Croatia was important for me as well.  I don’t get a chance often enough to see other reggae/ MCs. It’s important to study other people’s performances.


Were there any acts you checked out that stood out? Are there any collaborations coming out of the various artists you might have met up with?
I really liked dub act Channel One Sound System and Earl Gateshead from Trojan Sound System, the man played proper old school roots music but the sound systems were so massive and well-tuned that it was very impactful. The music had so much soul and a big dynamic range. The people I’m collaborating with are folks I had already been in touch with. We’re working on a combination with Mr Williamz and one of my tunes ‘Fever’ is coming out on Liondub later this year. I love Channel One, big sound and decades of experience – they are massive and you cannot argue with their sound.



How do you approach your work with the various acts/projects – Ska Vengers, Bass Foundation, Word, Sound, Power, Spoken Word – that you are involved in?
I try and think of Gaddar [Gummadi Vittal Rao popularly known as Gaddar is the pseudonym of a revolutionary Telugu balladeer and vocal Naxalite activist from Andhra Pradesh.]


What is it about dancehall culture that attracts you to it?
I have deep admiration for reggae culture. It’s a self-contained world that, at least at the outset, created a very strong vibrant cultural force largely without major label support that in due time colonised (in reverse) great parts of the planet. You have kids in Sweden and Japan singing in patois, the uniquely expressive form of English that developed in Kingston ghettos. Buju Banton called it Outlish not English because we speak out…not in. Reggae is a very rich musical tradition spanning a wide range of genres. Also, reggae deals with reality and can talk about dark aspects of life and yet make people dance and move their bodies. It tells a story that is deeply relevant for colonised people and the darker races on this planet. Word Sound Power is a phrase and concept taken from the heart of reggae dancehall culture.


Delhi Sultanate aka Taru Dalmia took time out between shooting videos, writing lyrics and rehearsing for Hennessy artistry’s gig next weekend at Ice Bar in Bangalore to give us a superb dancehall, reggae and roots playlist for you to enjoy.


Sizzla – No White God


Sizzla’s voice has been a major influence on me and he has been the conscience of a generation growing up post-formal colonialism. I voiced this tune recently as a dub plate for my Roots sound system and Sizzla customised it for India.



Abyssinians – Declaration of Rights
The second release by Jamaican roots reggae group known for their vocal support of the Rastafarian movement, ‘Declaration of Rights’, features Leroy Sibbles on backing vocals. The track was a big hit in Jamaica.



Bounty Killer – Anytime

Bounty Killer has been an iconic figure in dancehall for close to 20 years. He is alternately known as the “Poor people’s governor” or “5-star general”. This tune is one of my favourites from the mid-‘90s. I always liked ‘Anytime’…Dave Kelly’s sparse hard riddims and rough rhymes by Bounty. This track was banned from radio for the line: “Anytime you’re hungry again dem ago see the nine”.



Leroy Smart – Trying to Wreck My Life


A colourful and extravagant character, Leroy Smart began his career as a singer and went to produce some of the most inspired tunes as part of his lengthy 35-album career.



Lee Scratch Perry – Blackboard Jungle

Seminal dub album from Lee scratch, which is deeply innovative and atmospheric.



Buccaneer – Chatty Chatty Mouth

I learned patois from listening to this song over and over when I was 15 years old…where he talks about watching out for informers and snitches.



Barrington Levy – Poorman Style

One of Jamaica’s biggest stars Barrington Levy has straddled many worlds including working with the likes of Snoop Lion and Dan the Automator. On ‘Poorman Style’ he sings about the tribulations of life in Jamaica where he first made his name singing in dancehalls as a 14-year-old.



Barrington Levy – On the Telephone

You can tell why Levy was the undisputed king of the vocal trade in Jamaica in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with his music making waves in the UK as well. His voice on this fabulous tune conjures up all the images of Jamaica and the lyrics match it perfectly.



Buju Banton – Untold Stories

One of the most influential dancehall tunes that earned it comparisons to Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’, ‘Untold Stories’, sung in Banton’s gruff voice, is a hard-hitting political-themed track that attacks the state’s inability to deal with poverty, unemployment and equal opportunities for everyone.



Carlton Livingston – Trodding

With a blazing horn riff and a hypnotic bass line, Livington’s haunting and paranoid epic has been described as a “Rastafarian Ulysses” about smuggling weed through the jungles of Jamaica.





  • telangana praja front

    You missed another legend bro…U ROY