Sarathy Korwar was born in the United States and grew up in India. He began playing tabla aged 10 but was also drawn to the American music that he heard on the radio and that leaked through the doorway of his local jazz music shop.
At 17, Sarathy moved to Pune to study for a degree in environmental science, but he was still drawn to music, practising tabla and translating his skills to the Western drumkit and playing as a session musician. Finishing his studies, Sarathy began to think about pursuing a career in music and moved to London, where he trained as a classical tabla player under the guidance of Sanju Sahai, graduating with an MMus in Performance from SOAS.
Sarathy became involved in London’s jazz scene, connecting with Shabaka Hutchings (Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming), Cara Stacey (Kit Records) and performing with clarinettist Arun Ghosh. He was, however, itching to create under his own name and he started developing the concept for Day To Day and planning a trip to India to record the Sidis. It was late in 2014 when Sarathy heard about the Steve Reid Foundation and was accepted to be mentored by the foundation’s patrons: Four Tet, Floating Points, Gilles Peterson, Koreless and Nick Woodmansey (Emanative).
Ninja Tunes released Day To Day in 2016 and last year Sarathy collaborated with Hieroglyphic Being and Shabaka Hutchings to release A.R.E. Project 12”, of which The Quietus said: “the three musicians integrate elements of spiritual jazz, Indian classical and acid into a blissed out cosmic flow”.
As he prepares to perform new songs here later this month, Sarathy shared some of the artists he is listening to right now.
Sarathy Korwar on his playlist
This is a selection of music that I’ve been listening to recently. Inspiring me to create differently and challenge my own subconscious assumptions of what works in a musical context. A lot of the music is from peers of mine, making music primarily based out of London. I’m in love with how creative and diverse the city feels, especially when making playlist like this one (!) putting together an eclectic mix of sounds.
Don Cherry and Charles Lloyd are two of my favourite jazz musicians. I think this is because they understand the power of communal music making. Their music always reminds me to keep things fluid and focus on creating an atmosphere in which my fellow musicians on stage feel comfortable taking risks while playing.
I’m currently adding finished touched to an album that features a range of South Asian rappers, poets, spoken word artists and is about the reality and non-singularity of having a South Asian identity/background today. Bandish Projekt is a producer working with a very talented group called the Swadesi crew based in Mumbai. They combine the vocabulary and cadence of Indian classical percussion with fiery lyrics in Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati.
I’m incredibly lucky to be joined on stage by Idris Rahman (Wildflower/Soothsayers/ Ill Considered), Dan Leaver (The Comet Is Coming/Soccer 96) and Huw Marc Bennett (Susso/Minyata) whose individual music projects I deeply admire.
Sarathy Korwar performs live in the Purcell Room on Saturday 29 September, and tickets are on sale now.