INTERVIEW: Kapil Seshasayee | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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With a mash up of classic rock sounds, Indian folk and electronic rhythms, Kapil Seshsayee gives us the music we didn’t know we needed. It’s tough to pin this Glasgow-based artist down to just one category of music but what can certainly be said, is that Kapil is not afraid of taking on difficult topics through his music. Challenging the caste system, censorship and nationalism, he tells me where it all started: “I used to make music that was apolitical. And it was only my album about the caste system [2018’s A Sacred Bore] that kind of started the journey. And then I started thinking about other themes. Now I’m working on this trilogy of albums.

It all grew out of an incident years ago, in a previous place of work…I witnessed two women of South Asian origin arguing a lot, and one of them stormed out. And I bumped into her by chance a long time later. She said she was subjected to caste abuse basically every day. And unfortunately, none of the people around her had the cultural context to understand the gravity of what was happening. So off the back of that, it kind of got me thinking going ‘Oh, what if I was to write music about that’.”

I kind of had to grit my teeth and get on with being the only person of colour in the whole scene for a long time because I want to be part of the music

I wanted to know more about why he chose music to deliver this message. “It was very much involuntary. I grew up with a lot of Indian classical musicians in my family. And from a really young age, watching them rehearse and watching them do shows and temples was a really enchanting experience. Narrative in my music is as important as the music itself. I feel like music is the best tool.”

In addition to tackling intense themes in his music, Kapil also focuses on challenging the performance industry through his physical practice. Although very excited to get back into festivals, he wants to make sure the world of music is accessible for everyone. As a carer for two disabled parents, disability inclusion is something close to Kapil’s heart: “I would go out on a limb and say that [ableism] affects people more than gender or race does…I kind of had to grit my teeth and get on with being the only person of colour in the whole scene for a long time because I want to be part of the music. But there aren’t any ‘no women’ venues, there aren’t any ‘no black people or brown people venues’, whereas to be a non-able-bodied person that gets booked to play in a venue you physically can’t get into or onto the stage is quite harrowing. Yet, racism and sexism aren’t normalised the way ableism is.”

Ahead of Brave Exhibitions, Kapil expresses his love of the North, especially Newcastle: “The line-up [for Brave Exhibitions] and being in Newcastle’s really great because it would usually be the first place or last place on tour so you’ve always got loads of energy because you’re excited to be done or you’re excited to get started.

Newcastle is one of those places where you play five gigs there and you’d be everyone’s friend. Everyone’s really friendly and supportive and it reminds me a lot of Glasgow in many different ways. I’ve made a lot of amazing friendships through playing gigs in Newcastle.”

It’s easy to see how Kapil’s refreshing openness to discuss complex taboo topics has the North East ready to welcome him back. It takes a certain skill to make a powerful message enjoyable to hear, and that’s something he has more than perfected.

Kapil Seshasayee plays Brave Exhibitions festival at The Cluny, Newcastle on Sunday 21st November


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