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Naya Beat Volume 1: South Asian Dance and Electronic Music 1983–1992

by Tana Yonas, May 4, 2021

Naya Beat Records is releasing its first in a series of compilations and full-length album reissues dedicated to uncovering hidden electronic and dance music gems from the overlooked ‘80s and ‘90s South Asian music scene. Co-founders Raghav Mani and Filip Nikolic sat down for TNP with celebrated LA based producer and DJ, Daniel T to talk about the process of putting the record together and share some of their favorite tracks from the musical movement.

Founded by former Poolside member Filip Nikolic (Turbotito) and DJ and record collector Raghav Mani (Ragz), Naya Beat (loosely translated from Hindi as “New Beat”) is building on the success of seminal South Asian dance and electronic reissues like Rupa ‎Disco Jazz and Charanjit Singh’s iconic Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat.

Turbotito and Ragz have spent years digging for records in the most unusual places, from the crowded and dusty markets of New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to the Guyanese corner shops in Jamaica, Queens, to the Surinamese record stores in Amsterdam and the incredibly diverse South Asian communities of London and Birmingham. They have amassed an exceptionally deep treasure trove of dance and groove-based music that has never been available digitally before.

Their first compilation Naya Beat Volume 1: South Asian Dance and Electronic Music 1983-1992, features future classics from India, Pakistan, the U.K., Canada, Guyana and Suriname released between 1983 and 1992. From East-West’s dancefloor filler Can't Face The Night (Club Mix) to Remo’s balearic masterpiece Jungle Days (off his seminal album Bombay City!) to other disco, synth-pop, and balearic dancefloor bangers from artists like Babla & His Orchestra, Sheila Chandra, Bappi Lahiri and Asha Puthli to name a few, this double album includes highly sought after, never previously reissued and otherwise impossible to find grails.

“The 80s and early 90s were a really special time for dance and electronic music in South Asian communities around the world. Influenced by the drum machine and synth-based disco, boogie and hi-NRG coming out of New York’s Paradise Garage and the synth-pop and later acid house scenes in the UK, these communities were fusing these influences with their traditional forms to create groundbreaking music,” say Turbotito and Ragz.

The artists and music they have discovered are likely to have as much relevance and impact as legends like William Onyeabor, Kiki Gyan, Orlando Julius and the recently rediscovered Rupa.

The idea for the label started after years of collecting records from South Asia. While a lot of people are aware of the ‘filmi music’ disco sounds of Bollywood composer greats like RD Burman, Bappi Lahiri and Kalyanji-Anandji, Turbotito and Ragz realized that there were individual solo artist releases or releases by bands that were completely unknown. These artists were making music with a dreamy and balearic aesthetic that had elements of cosmic disco, boogie and electro and that were way ahead of the time in South Asian (so much so that the music labels had no idea how to market them). A couple of records had a huge influence on helping define the “Naya Beat Sound”. Albums like Preeti Sagar’s Heartbeat and With Love…, Pandit Dinesh’s Jhoomo Re Jhoomo and Remo’s Bombay City! were particularly important in shaping the direction for the first compilation.

The compilation has evolved significantly since those early days mostly because the duo ran into challenges with licensing some of the tracks. In hindsight this may have been a good thing as it forced them to expand the scope of the comp to include music from the broader South Asian diaspora. Something that has now become an integral aspect of the label.

“South Asian communities around the world were making amazing music, and in many instances musicians and artists from certain communities would play a key role in influencing others – be it Babla & Kanchan’s impact on Chutney music, Biddu’s work with Nazia and Zoheb Hassan or Asha Bosle’s amazing work with UK-based West India Company. We feel like our first compilation is now a much better reflection of what was happening with South Asian dance and electronic music the world over” say Turbotito and Ragz.

Turbotito and Ragz say in closing “We’ve spent the last year meticulously remastering some of our finds and have had the honor of working in close partnership with the artists and rights holders. We are beyond excited to bring this music out to a new generation of dance and electronic music lovers.”

For more information about Naya Beat you can listen to their first two song releases from Volume 1 of Naya Beat on their Bandcamp (listed below) and follow them on socials for the latest updates. The full length compilation is out on June 25th and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

Visit Naya Beat on their socials:

︎ Bandcamp
︎ Instagram
︎ Facebook

Radio Tempo Não Pára · In focus: Naya Beat Records

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