Jun 16, 2014

The parallel worlds of Sampology


 I met Sampology in the pouring rain. It was ‘Hangover’ by Buraka Som Sistema that had pulled me to his stage and despite being fairly transparent, the audio visual experience from that floral shirt wearing young man still remains vivid. I told him I knew nothing about him backstage but had tons of questions to ask. He was nice enough to answer them:

Essentially, how does your mind work?

I come from a hip hop background and what I like about hip hop is that it takes lots of existing things from different areas and then combines them to make something new. Like just remixing and reworking things. I like juxtaposing things - taking something out of context and making it new.

So how does the visual aspect come in? Do you do that yourself?

Yeah so I take bits of existing footage and reapply them to music. I like things to flow through the set so one visual leads into another section while making sense.

Is it very drug-induced?

Not really. For some people it is but for me, a lot of the time, I’m editing in my studio and it’s really late at night and I’m sleep deprived. And in that state, it’s kind of like I’m tripping. So sometimes, when I’m really tired, it helps.

What’s your education background like?

I don’t come from a visual background. I come from a DJ/music background. I’ve been DJing for the last five years and then the technology became available for me to DJ with videos as well and I jumped straight on it. At that point, I didn’t know anything about videos. I had ideas of what I wanted to do and then had to figure out how to do it.

Are you always surfing the internet?

Yeah, I’m always surfing the net. Now you can find everything on the net. Back when I started in 2008, I’d go to this old VHS tape store back home and I’d keep going through those. And the owner of that store and me share an affinity for early 80s Bollywood movies. I like geeking out.

Where do you pick your music from?

Everywhere! I mean I worked in a record store in Brisbane for four years so that kind of influenced me. Icome from a hip hop background but when I started playing in bars and live music venues, I didn’t really like playing one style of music for an hour. I like things moving between genres.

What do you think of Bangalore?

I love it. I got in two days ago. Yesterday, I went to the market and found an antique shop and bought a bunch of records because in Australia, Indian records are very expensive. It’s my first time here and I bought a lot of 60s and 80s records. People are really nice here. There’s a big Indian population in Australia so I’m used to the food.

What did you think of India when you were making the special 3-minute visual package?

I’ve been into Indian cinema for the last five years. I’m a big fan of Mithun Chakravarty, Amitabh Bachchan, RD Burman, Sanjay Dutt and Bappi Lahiri. I love the cinematography - the big dance sequences how everyone is organized and the camera operator is so still is amazing. I realize that the era I’m talking about is really cheesy but I love it. All the Indian cover versions of Western tracks - some of them are actually better than the originals in terms of how the drums come in. I’m learning more now about newer bands here because my knowledge is more specific to the early 80s films for their soundtrack and stuff. But while I’m here, I’m going to try and catch some acts.

Does travel play a big role in your music?

Yeah it does. I think that if you’re doing any kind of art, traveling helps a lot. It’s just inspiration because I sample a lot of stuff.

Any albums on the cards?

I released an album last year in Australia and am working on releasing one next year. But I’m also doing a full Bollywood set in Australia early next year for some cultural festivals. It’ll be a full audio-visual set with the audio being contemporary remixes of Bollywood cinema. And then I want to come to India with it. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how the Bollywood segment would go down because sometimes, when you go to a country and play their stuff to them, they either love it or hate it.

Is there a non-musical side to you?

Umm, not really. It’s either music or visuals. At the moment, I’m scanning old magazines and making them into moving GIFs.

And do you feel that your brain is always working on overdrive?

Yeah. I’ve noticed it in the last few years that I’ll be having a conversation with someone and some situational topic will come up and I’ll instantly compare it to a scene in a movie. And it’ll be a bizarre non-famous reference. But it’s from working on the shows. Like I’m always trying to draw parallels!

The article appeared in Deccan Herald on December 12. 

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