I remember when I first found out about them. It was during the Winter Jazz Festival 2014 in New York city at Le Poisson Rouge. I was primiraly coming to see perform my friend Keren Ann for a little hour, where I unexpectedly met the French couturier Maxime Simoens and his Press officer Tomek Kolarski. We chatted for a bit until the next band… Red stripe done, I was totally washed out and went to the exit when I got curious about three guys playing new sounds in the pitch dark room with tiny blue spots lighting their instruments. I wanted to listen more so I stayed and I got trapped into their lawless universe… I rushed to the NYC Law School, a few doors down from Le Poisson Rouge, to buy their record and I played it five times in a row before sleeping. The New York Times, NPR Music, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, BBC 3 recently raved about them and now FAULT invites you to take a minute and listen to their haunting -perverse in a good way- music. Meet New Yorker contrabassist Aakaash Israni of the promising band Dawn Of Midi.
FAULT : Who are you, Aakaash Israni ?
Aakaash: I was born in India and raised in California. I never felt quite right anywhere until moving to New York at age 29. I started music in 3rd grade, mesmerized by Beethoven’s 5th symphony and Paco de Lucia as a child…. I grew up in San Diego, which is 2 hours south of LA.
FAULT : How did you connect with Amino and Qasim –the pianist and the drummer of the band respectively?
Aakaash : We met at CalArts as friends before we ever thought of playing music together. Amino and Qasim were in a trio with an excellent bassist named Sam Minaie already, so instead we played tennis.
FAULT : Who were your mentor(s) at school ?
Aakaash : The great bassist and composer Mark Dresser and the Master Ghanaian drummer Alfred Ladzekpo.
FAULT : What does DoM mean ?
Aakaash : Dawn of Midi was a phrase Qasim spoke once describing the music of the classical composers of the early 1980’s. It was sort of a non-sequiter in relation to the music we were making at the time (Our debut album First), which was freely improvised and sort of avant-garde. It made no sense. We had no idea we would make an album years later (Dysnomia) that would make the band name appear deliberate.
When we started we only made completely improvised music, so obviously there was no leader. Dysnomia, which leans heavily on the knowledge of African rhythmic concepts, has shifted this dynamic a bit. The album was composed by Amino and myself. Both Amino and I studied in Paris, but at different times. He was at the conservatoire for piano before leaving for CalArts, whereas I left CalArts to go to Paris and study music composition.
FAULT : Can you share with us an anecdote when writing/composing for Dysnomia, please ?
Aakaash : There was a lot of tension, Qasim was losing his father to cancer and was being given these incredibly challenging drum parts to learn and we had about 150 rehearsals before we went to the studio. By the time the album was recorded, our girlfriends had all left us, Qasim’s father was gone, and the hard times were only just beginning!
FAULT : Why creating/performing in darkness ?
Aakaash : This began at CalArts when we first met. I’ve always enjoyed closing my eyes at concerts and have always wanted to give concerts in complete darkness. I think vision dominates our perception and removing it enhances our experience of sound so when we first began improvising together I suggested we do so in the dark.
FAULT : What kind of music do you listen to ?
Aakaash : A lot of African drumming music -from Ghana and Morocco. Also a lot of pop music. I like to try and understand what makes pop music work on the ear the way it does. It is extremely efficient, it has to make you fall in love in three minutes.
FAULT : What are your latest findings in music ?
Aakaash : Shing Kee by Carl Stone.
FAULT : What is your dream collaboration ?
Aakaash : A music video with dancer Marquese Scott directed by David Lynch.
FAULT : What is your FAULT ?
Aakaash : I care too much