So there’s a special function happening this weekend in Brooklyn, New York. This one’s not your cousin’s half-sari function, nor is it your nephew’s head-shaving function. FUNCTION: A Festival Devoted to (South) Asian Music in the US (and UK) is being put on by Queens artist Himanshu Suri (Eat Pray Thug, Das Racist). It offers an outstanding lineup of film, DJs and music from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 31, for an 18+ audience. Click here for advance tickets and directions to the venue, and read on for more about some of the artists featured at this Sunday’s Function.
Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music
The festival lineup starts off Sunday at 2 p.m. with a screening of this 2003 documentary film by Vivek Bald (Taxi-vala, Bengali Harlem) and Claire Shanley which explores the rise of Britain’s 1990s Asian music, and the stories of a generation that grew up in the 1970s and 80s. It features work by and interviews with Anjali, Asian Dub Foundation, Black Star Liner, Fun–Da–Mental, Hustlers HC, Invasian, Joi, Kaliphz, DJ Ritu, Talvin Singh, State of Bengal and other music artists.
Following the screening, Bald and Shanley are in person and in conversation with Suri. This inspiring documentary can’t be checked out via the usual suspects like Netflix or YouTube. That makes any time you can catch a screening with the filmmakers in attendance a true don’t-miss opportunity.
Riz MC (Riz Ahmed)
Rapper/actor Riz MC aka Riz Ahmed (Night Of, Rogue One) is on Sunday’s roster of artists too. The UK music scene portrayed in Mutiny was part of his 1990s London childhood, and Ahmed brought it to life in Daytimer, his short film about a boy skipping school to go to a daytime rave. He also provides commentary on British Asian Sound Systems, a 2015 Dazed doc series available online which looks at how Asian clubbing youths and their music changed British culture forever.
Ahmed keeps the commentary on society and identity coming in his musical work too. His mixtape Englistan keeps the beats flowing fast alongside his steady stream of thoughts and reflections on cultural hybridity, dual identities, honor killings and other topics.
Marrying the dreaminess of shoegaze with the repetitive and hypnotic sounds of qawwali music was one of the guiding impulses for Humeysha‘s Zain Alam when he was writing the songs for the band’s self-titled debut album, released last year. Since early this year the band has been performing live, developing a signature style which includes a version of “Radio ’47” which is exclusively played live and different from the recorded version. Watch the new live video Alam shared with us of the band performing “Radio ’47” at Rooftop Films in Brooklyn last month. Also, read our interview with Humeysha’s Zain Alam.
Pakistan born, Brooklyn-based singing sensation Arooj Aftab is a self-taught guitarist with a graceful, transcendant voice. She innovates off classical Pakistani, Sufi and pre-partition South Asian music, creating original compositions honoring ancestral roots, for a sound that is fresh, graceful, and musically complex. She released her debut album Bird Under Water last year, and in addition to appearing at Function, she’s performing on August 11 at the Lincoln center.
Check out the event’s poster and Facebook page for more details on times/tickets/venue and for the complete list of amazing artists who are performing at Function, not limited to DJs Rekha and Grumby, The Kominas, Anik Khan, Rafiq Bhatia, and kite-fighters Awaaz Do.
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