For The Love Of L.A.: Ireesh Lal
Many For The Love Of L.A. curators ask their artists questions and post them here. You are the reader of this collection, so for context, prior to your viewership, some questions for you instead:
- How does a South Asian person dance?
- Who do you see when you hear “Girl next door,” or “America’s sweetheart?”
- What does Indian music sound like?
- What does contemporary dance look like?
- What is authentic Indian art?
Write down your answers, then please watch the pieces and the artist Q&A. I would love to hear your thoughts before and after, and any realizations or thoughts that might have/or may not have occurred. Tag @achintablue13 and @musiccenterla on Instagram using the hashtags #ftlola #objectsinmirror.
Objects in Mirror highlights recording artist and composer Ireesh Lal as he explores the ancient concepts of Chakras in his latest album, Journey Through the Chakras. COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions forced innovation in the area of remote production techniques to allow multiple, disparate performances to be captured and presented as a collaborative, seamless piece.
Lal recorded musicians separately in a variety of studios at different times; the watercolor paintings were filmed alone by artist Norton Wisdom; and Mayuri Bhandari incorporated Green Screen technology to simulate dancing inside a painting while it was created live. All elements combine to create a video that conveys the meaning of the Solar Plexus Chakra through the mediums of dance, music and watercolor painting.
Characterized by the expression of will, personal power and mental abilities, the energy of the Solar Plexus Chakra is mobilized when we assert ourselves in the world. The main meanings associated with this energy center in the human body are wisdom and power.
Lal is joined on this track and the album by sitar player Rajib Karmakar, whose brisk runs and deep note-bends echo his bandleader's unique phrasing; bassist Melvin Brannon, who anchors an otherworldly arrangement in the here and now; and percussionist Satnam Ramgotra, whose tabla dances between the machine beats.
While the pandemic forced video production for Objects in Mirror to be created separately with artists, the live performance plans to bring performers together to combine all three elements (musicians, dancers, artists) onstage as an ensemble.
Listen to Journey Through the Chakras
Ireesh Lal is a recording artist and composer who combines original electronic music with exotic East Indian elements alongside the distinctly Western tones of the jazz trumpet, creating a captivating new sound. Notable achievements include features/interviews on NPR’s All Things Considered, PRI’s The World, BBC Radio, Buddha Bar Compilation (vol 12), Coachella Music Festival, KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and music in dozens of television shows.
His latest release, Journey Through the Chakras, is a seven-song album—one track for each chakra—that takes listeners on a sonic tour of the mystical energy centers of the human body. Miles Davis, Ravi Shankar and Thievery Corporation are three of Lal’s influences, and you can hear traces of each artist in his music. He’s created a unique style that Lal calls "ethnotronica"—music that combines the heat of North American jazz with the meditative cool of traditional Indian sounds and the tight, sleek, immediate delivery of smartly-programmed synthpop.
To accompany his music, Lal produces immersive art videos with performance artists. Songs on this album feature dancers and musicians performing “inside” paintings while they are being created live. Legendary L.A. artist, Norton Wisdom, collaborates using watercolor painting on a fiberglass canvas, continuously altering ephemeral images, creating picture after picture, one into the next, essentially conveying the themes of the seven chakras in each time-lapse video. The synergy taking place between the music, art and dance aligns to help communicate the meanings behind each of the energy centers of the human body.
Curated by Achinta S. McDaniel
“'Objects in Mirror...' is the phrase which first inspired my curated collection For the Love of LA. I deliberately selected Indian/South Asian American identifying performing artists for this curation and, to catalyze the work, asked each to fill in the rest of the above sentence.
The Objects in Mirror projects center this deinvisibilization process through dance, music and film created in L.A. during the height of the pandemic. The isolation, the 2020 election, our inspiration from Black Lives Matter and anti-racist movements across the U.S., coupled with the violence our communities endured during this time reifies the need to meaningfully elevate our visibility, not just as in performative gestures of diversity. My artists are Shreya, Shalini, and Ireesh and I am Achinta. Don’t say you’re not even going to try to pronounce them. Ask us how."