Desi Dance Network Inc. is constantly amazed by the generosity and selflessness of members from the community. In collaboration with Vissagan Gopalakrishnan (VGo), we have set up a download donation link for his latest album Riyaaz. Any dollar amount would be greatly appreciated and would help DDN continue to spread the awareness of South Asian Performing Arts globally.
Donation Link: https://officialvgo.bandcamp.com/album/riyaaz
About the Artist
Vissagan Gopalakrishnan, also known as VGo, graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a double major in Molecular and Cellular Biology and East Asian Studies. Originally he was interested in engineering, but later decided to explore other areas of interest. Vissagan has a fascination with Chinese culture, language, and history. He lived in China for eight years before moving to the United States and continues to be curious and excited about China. He is currently a medical student at Rush Medical College in Chicago and has been at the National Institutes of Health for the past two years on a research fellowship.
What have you been doing over the past few months? Why the hiatus?
Over the past few months, I took a break from releasing new mixes and focused more on academics and traveling, both within the United States and abroad. I think that taking a step back from working on mixes for release gave me space to experiment with different production techniques. It allowed me to try fusions of South Asian sounds, with genres not typically approached by DDN producers and DJs, such as rock and disco.
Why did you call this 4-track album Riyaaz?
Riyaaz was the title that Aa Dekhen Zara (ADZ) gave to their afterparty, which I DJ’ed on February 3, 2018. The wikipedia description of this word is "an Urdu language term used for music practice, for honing of Hindustani classical music vocal as well as instrument skills." I thought this title was very fitting for what I wanted to go for in this mini-album. This album is a representation of honed skills in some ways. It is always an ambition of mine to incorporate wider musical variety and arrangement styles in Indian fusion music.
What made you choose these artists to mix?
In support of DDN, I wanted to begin with mixes that pay homage to more mainstream songs, like other material I have put out for DDN competitions in the past. However, I tried to play with better production methods to achieve a cleaner sound and also tried to do interesting things with the flow and arrangement of the track. The first track of Riyaaz is Humble, by Kendrick Lamar, mixed with President Roley, by Imran Khan. The second is a bhangra version of Reminder, by The Weeknd, featuring Dangey, by Zora Randhawa and Dr. Zeus.
The second two tracks are more experimental and thematically distinct. "Indian Folk for the Western Palate" combines disco and synthpop with A.R. Rahman (Lagaan, Tamil 90’s Rahman) and Thaikkudam Bridge, a fascinating band from Kerala that fuses South Indian folk with rock. The last track of the album, Firefly in an Indian Summer, combines Jai Wolf's Indian Summer with In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein from Jodhaa Akbar, as well as Firefly by Childish Gambino. This concept was originally attempted by Dr. Srimix, but that track was more an overlay of Indian Summer with In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein, without much change to the arrangement of either song.
What do you hope to achieve with this album?
The hope with his album is to show a new and interesting side to Indian fusion mixes. I want to share a polished sound that shows that Indian Americans have a unique voice that can be embodied in mixes, which can touch the heart and pique musical and intellectual curiosity. I also wanted to showcase versatility in the styles I wanted to incorporate. Each track in this album has a very different sound than the next.
What made you decide to make this a donation album for DDN?
It still amazes me that a mere Facebook group made up of students from across the United States resulted in a massive, highly active online community. There is no question that DDN's existence has brought the circuit closer and given it more structure. DDN has also been an excellent platform for dancers and DJs to showcase new art, and I hope it will continue to be like this for years to come.