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INTERVIEW: Katie Antoniou hears from Bishi and her Albion Voice

Independent musician and performer Bishi is not easily described- she defies the usual genre pigeon-holing with her unique hybrid music, combining folk, left field pop and Asian influences. Her recent projects have featured ambitious audiovisual performances, utilising technology for her own creative purposes. She also recently starred in and provided the soundtrack to the award winning film Holi Holy which you can see below. We chatted to Bishi about women and technology, embracing her heritage and working with her mother.

KA: You've really embraced technology in your new work- do you think  audiovisual performances are the future of live music?

Bishi: I think audio visual performances are a definite future. I've spent the last few years exploring gigs fusing music, visuals & interactivity. Squarepusher, Amon Tobin, Kraftwerk & The Joshua Lightshow have been some of the most inspiring experiences in this field.

KA: Do you think there is a lack of encouragement for women who want to experiment with technology in their work in the way you have?

Bishi: I am about to launch a forum called WITCiH which stands for Women In Technology and Creative Industries Hub. Warmly open to both sexes,  it's main focus lies on encouraging Women in Technology & their creative initiatives. It's true there's a gender imbalance, but I think that women experimenting with technology is an area of rapid growth. Historically, artists such as Laurie Anderson & now Bjork with 'Biophilia,'  Imogen Heap & Planningtorock are leading the way.

KA: The show has evolved to include a new finale- can you tell us a bit about that?

Bishi: For the finale, I've  collaborated with Kimatica Studio, the brainchild of Maria Almena & Nestor Rubio. They are a creative team who specialise in performance & interactive technologies. There is even a very special 'voice of God,' cameo from a British Icon, but you'll have to come to the show to see who it is!

All photos Matthew Hardern/Dominic Harris

KA: You wear some fantastically futuristic creations in the show- which designers have you worked with to achieve this aesthetic?

Bishi: My creative partner, Matthew Hardern & I usually conceive ideas for the outfits & work with  specialist couturiers. For 'Albion Voice, Live,' we worked with Sybil Rouge, Tim Dilley & Maria Almena of Kimatica studio.

KA: Dia Ti Maria has won Best Soundtrack for the Manish Arora film Holi Holy at the 6th A Shaded View on Fashion Film festival. The film celebrates the widows of Varanasi - the holiest city in Hinduism - who broke centuries of tradition and played Holi (throwing colour) for the first time in 2013. You not only provide the soundtrack to the film, but you star in it as well- what was it like filming the project?

Bishi: Filming 'Holi Holy,' was one of the most magical and intense experiences of my life. At 40ft underwater, Varanasi was in the midst of a natural disaster. We were mobbed by hundreds of people everywhere who kept asking us if we were shooting the new 'Superman,' film. We were fusing the threads of ancient india, whilst echoing its present radical change. It was an emotional experience that I won't forget in a hurry!

 

KA: Lots of your music is about having mixed heritage- did you feel at home filming in India?

Bishi: I was born & grew up in London but my parents are from West Bengal. I feel a very deep connection with both places. There's an antiquated  history you can still feel throbbing in the veins of each area. My life and work sit on the crux of these polarities and it's energy has been my greatest inspiration.

KA: I adore the artwork for Albion voice- how did you come up with the idea of adapting the British royal insignia?

Bishi: The artwork for 'Albion Voice,' was designed by my creative partner Matthew Hardern. Adapting Royal insignia is an idea we'd discussed for a while, based on my love of the work of artists such as, Yinka Shonibare & Gavin Fernandes, who similarly juxtapose traditional British imagery against post colonial stereotypes.

KA: One of your tracks features your mum, what was it like working on that together?Bishi: With families like The Watersons & The Carter family, it's  pretty commonplace in folk & roots music for families to make music together. Working with a parent on music, is a deeply profound experience. My friends Sean Ono Lennon & Blaine Harrison of The Mystery Jets share in this experience with me.

KA: And what do you have planned next?

Bishi: I've got more new music releases coming up in 2014. I'll be continuing to tour with Albion Voice Live & there are some special collaborations in the pipeline. Watch this space! 

Bishi's show Albion Voice is on 31st October,1st & 2nd November- more details here.