Avinash Kumar & Gaurav Malaker | Art on the dance floor3 min read . Updated: 17 Aug 2012, 11:51 PM IST
Avinash Kumar & Gaurav Malaker | Art on the dance floor
Blot!, the audio-visual electronica act from Delhi, released their first album this month, marking a move away from the high-octane but minimalist techno beats that form the core of their gigs, to a more ambient and introspective listening experience. The album, called Snafu (an acronym for “Situation Normal: All Fucked Up"), highlights the act’s trademark style of irreverent humour and gritty urban aesthetics. Avinash Kumar, 32, who does the visual art for Blot!, melds videos, Soviet-style poster art, Indian kitsch, stop-motion photography and 3D animation with a stress on bizarre, organic forms. DJ Gaurav Malaker, 27, creates the throbbing, atmospheric soundscapes. The duo, who have been a driving force behind India’s growing dance music and independent art scene since 2007, spoke to Lounge about their album and their influences. Edited excerpts:
You started off with the idea of a dance album, but that changed. Why?
You also collaborated with fellow musicians on this album?
Malaker: We’ve always collaborated with people, not so much as a conscious effort, but more as an organic flow of things. Most of our gigs are collaborations—with artistes, fashion designers, chefs, cultural institutes. On the album we’ve got Vasundhara (of Delhi-based jazz and R&B band Adil & Vasundhara), who came by our studio, and we traded ideas and they seemed to work really well. I also like the gypsy jazz low-fi atmosphere of Suryakant (Sawhney) of Peter Cat Recording Co. (a Delhi- and San Francisco-based band) so I thought that I could take that and put in a bit of our own touch. Madhav Shorey, known as Kohra (a Delhi-based musician), is also collaborating with us on the live sets.
Why an album now?
Malaker: It’s to have one cohesive set of work, a kind of legacy. It’s also to lay the groundwork for a more interesting live show, to push our music in an eclectic direction, away from techno, so that the music and the visual arts and video aspects of our show get highlighted and neither the videos nor the music is in the background.
Kumar: We’ve also completed a DVD album, which is more esoteric, with six music videos and four short films, and we are looking to release that in a couple of months. For the supporting gigs for our album we are working on a half-hour 3D set as well.
Avinash Kumar, 32, and Gaurav Malaker, 27, form the Delhi-based audio-visual electronic dance music duo Blot!, and have been a driving force behind India’s independent dance music and art scene. Here are some samples of their edgy, irreverent, and quirky art.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Kumar: You can make visuals out of anything, and anything can be turned into art. I’m just learning this tool to make character designs, so I’m making lots of monsters and weird creatures. I’m working on a transgender pig meets an elephant meets a mosquito which is actually some kind of sexual fetish. I went on a trip to Florence recently and I was very influenced by this thing called grotessca (a European art style where natural forms and monstrous figures are intertwined).
Malaker: Inspiration and influence don’t make any sense if you remove the interpretation. Even the medium is incidental, it’s the interpretation where everything comes together.
How did Blot! begin?
Kumar: I went to Nift (the National Institute of Fashion Technology) and became a toy designer, and I started a studio called Quicksand. Then I met Gaurav through a common friend, Akshar Pillai (an early member of Blot!), and we started Blot! It’s only then that I started exploring visual design.
Malaker: I wanted to be a DJ when I was really young, so I became a DJ. I started deejaying when I was 15-16 and then I went to law school. I graduated in 2007 and started Blot! while practising law. Two years later I quit law and became a full-time musician.