Celebrate the the noise, the beautiful noise!
Praveer Baijal, the creative force behind Yatra Arts, recently took some time for us to discuss the past present and future of Yatra Arts. His passionate curatorial approach, continuous questioning and reinvention of experimental electronic music makes the Yatra Arts label a groundbreaking and genre defying tour de force. Their showcase this year celebrates release of Höfin Hljómar, featuring some of the most cutting edge of Icelandic Electronic music!
Hello Praveer! Can you introduce us to Yatra Arts?
Yatra Arts is a journey that started over 32 years ago…It embodies my interests in music/art, my past, present and future. I consider everything I do to be a part of this journey – whether it be releasing physical products, curating events, conceiving original concepts, dialogue with artists, traveling, connecting people, arts patronage, supporting other labels and so forth. As far as ‘officially’ using the name Y.A. as a platform / imprint – it started almost ten years ago mainly with events and then releases. I did have another label from the early 90’s until 1998 that concentrated on heavy / power electronics & post industrial noise with about half a dozen releases and a few events.
What is the main drive and focus with the music at Yatra?
It’s safe to say that Yatra Arts focuses on electronic / experimental music, but this is a very broad term – especially in 2013; but to be a bit more specific: minimal electronic / post industrial / concrete sounds / electro-acoustic / darker techno etc.
As far as the main drive – it’s me, without my own serious interest and passion for what I am doing, there is no point. If Y.A. is going to release something, it has to be something that I would purchase and/or go see live; something that really resonates with me. A personal approach works best for Y.A. and I am continually traveling to see events and attend festivals – which also fuels the fire.
As far as the Icelandic part – I have been working with Icelandic artists based in Reykjavík & Copenhagen for the last four years on events (both in Canada & Iceland), physical releases and also some very special studio sessions in Hamilton, Ontario Canada at the legendary Grant Avenue Studios that took place in November 2011 & September 2012. My interest in Icelandic music goes back well over 25 years-but was really ignited by the early Reptilicus releases in 1990.
A good friend and talented producer William Blakeney has been an integral part of this Icelandic series and he is now a full time member of the Y.A. family + an exceptional Montréal based writer named Kate MacDonald has been assisting me for the last four years and is also part of the fold. So, basically it’s William, Kate & I now…sounds like royalty, eh?
What is happening at your label night?
The label night is connected to the latest release – an all Icelandic compilation cd of electronic music called “Höfnin Hljómar” and will feature several of the artists on the disc. It will be ‘officially’ released on that night, October 30th. There is also a limited edition split cassette of 200 only between AMFJ / Auxpan – who are both a part of this night (and have tracks on the cd as well).
There is a very special live track on the compilation disc from an event I curated in December, 2011 at 12 Tónar with Reptilicus + Auxpan (a collaboration). Some kind of alchemy transpired that evening during their 30 minute set and we took a 5 minute edit/excerpt for the release that we thought would make for a good track. It was a truly amazing night there and fits really well on the HH anthology.
Who all is in involved?
Reptilicus, Auxpan, Jónas Sen, Þóranna Björnsdóttir, AMFJ & Björk Viggósdóttir, October 30, at Harpa.
What is the best aspect of Airwaves for you and for the Label?
We are all very excited to have the label showcase in Harpa (it’s one of my favorite venues) and the fact that this line-up is part of the main program this year is fantastic! Airwaves have embraced the”Höfnin Hljómar” concept and are fully supportive of all of the artists involved & the label. I couldn’t be happier!
What should people expect from your label night and what are you most excited for?
The goal is to present another side of the Icelandic scene. People can expect six very different & interesting sets from some familiar names and some they may not have heard before – from very hypnotic droned out pieces, to rhythmical to very abstract to machine like sounds and more…a nice diverse cross section and a good representation of the label’s activities in Iceland. The ears & minds for all kinds of electronic music have opened up now (finally) and audiences are much more in tune with what is going on and appreciate things on a much more educated level. Just look at other festivals around the globe, they are booking acts that never would have been considered; so it’s a pretty exciting time. There will be also be a visual element to some of the performances – which is something I am very fond of. A festival like Airwaves is about exposing people to new Icelandic music and also debuting fresh material by already known & established artists, so you can expect exclusive & special sets by everyone that night. I am really looking forward to the Harpa event and also November 1, at Lucky Records – where we will have an off-venue Y.A. showcase with: Jóhann Eiríksson (solo set – from Reptilicus member), Auxpan, Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson & Inside Bilderberg.
A personal highlight is seeing Krafwerk at Harpa! It is such a perfect venue for them and they have been a big influence on me since 1979. I was also fortunate enough to see several nights of the special “Der Katalog” retrospective in their hometown of Düsseldorf this past January. Anna von Hausswolff from Sweden on October 31, is definitely one watch for, she is doing some powerful stuff – both vocal and with organ and I know her father Carl-Michael – who is a brilliant sound & visual artist in his own right. I’d also like to see Tape (Sweden), Ghostigital, all the various AMFJ off-venue sets, and all of the performances by Þóranna Björnsdóttir + several others (making my list as we speak).
What is happening beyond Airwaves for Yatra Arts?
The next Y.A. event is Frank Bretschneider (raster-noton Germany) onNovember 29, at The Music Gallery in Toronto. It’s a co-presentation with this legendary venue and The Goethe-Institut Toronto (whom I have been collaborating with since 2006). I have had a long association with raster-noton and have presented all of their Toronto events for the last eight years + Y.A. also released a 7″ by Reptilicus which featured a remix by a staple in the r-n camp Senking (aka Jens Massel) in 2011.
In 2014 I will release a CDEP by Italian duo Schnitt.
Y.A. curated their performance at Montréal’s Elektra Festival in May 2012 and have been working closely with them for a while now. There will no doubt be more Icelandic releases on all formats and possibly a special 7″ or 12″ series called YATRA-NORDIC, which will feature solo & split releases by Icelandic artists.
Where should people go to check out more from Yatra Arts?
Check out www.yatra-arts.com and be sure to check out the new record!