“Extensive travel tends to remove cultural idiosyncrasies, aspects which a lot of us tend to identify as an essential part of our being – which I’ve come to discover as non-essential for myself.”
Calm, unassuming and carrying his repertoire of instruments with easy comfort – TL Mazumdar, also known as EveryNowHere –his artist avatar, walks into PORT with very little to give away the storm he’s about to create with his music. A quick set up – including a slick electronic drum kit later – we’re all shaken out of our afternoon stupor with sounds that are unexpected, catchy and surreal all at once.
A German of Indian origin, who thinks in English and grew up on Arab food, TL insists that he is unclassifiable – with music as his constant companion. Described as ‘the only Germany-based representative of Indian electronic music’ by IMC Radio, Hamburg, he has also been touted by Time Out Magazine, as one among a handful of Indian musicians who are trying to break the Western stereotype that they have to play sitars or tablas, or sing Bollywood and bhangra numbers to be noticed. A short chat with him reveals layers of depth.
TL lives between India, Lisbon, Germany and his childhood home town London. “The saying ‘There’s no place like home’ takes on an entirely different meaning for someone like me. It literally doesn’t exist. Home is something I have to find for myself, in the moment, independent of the space I happen to be in. So I’m out of place and at home everywhere, which is why my artist avatar is called Every Now Here – a reference to the whole time-space paradigm. The issue for me personally, is to try and figure out a lifestyle that’s beyond the same.” It is this experience of not quite belonging and yet feeling home, that perhaps inspires TL to experiment with his music, to collaborate with a variety of musicians and create landscapes that are unusual yet intimate.
“I’ve hung out in rural areas of Bengal and toured with classical musicians like Tanmoy Bose – who at one time played tabla for Pandit Ravi Shankar. In another phase of my life, I’ve played in a heavy metal band – and I’ve been on stage with Nelly Furtado. I once played at a techno production in a corner of Germany very few people know about – it was an underground party! And throughout all these, I’ve often thought about what a pity it is that very few of these musicians would run into each other or play together – even though the crux of their music and life’s work is the same.” TL adds that he feels very blessed to have collaborated with some of his favourite musicians both on and off stage.
TL’s creative process is shaped by his nomadic lifestyle. Not being in the same place for too long, the constant oscillation between what feels like home and to be at home with what doesn’t, is central to his work.
“EveryNowHere was a direct result of my nomadic life these past few years. The album was made entirely on my laptop. I’d constantly be living between countries and I still have a shared studio space in Germany, so I’d just do all the writing on the road and finish the production every time I was back in Germany. [Which meant I was mainly there to meet deadlines!] I usually write my music on my journeys, where travelling is my backdrop.”
His latest EP ‘Re-Movement’ was also created when he was on the road the past few years, and is an introspection of the changing nature of our relationships, our ideas of belonging, and the rigid, conventional ways of being. As someone who was constantly made to feel like an outsider, first in India after having returned from London with a British accent, then in Germany where his friends called him “Apu” because they thought he was speaking in Indian English, and then later in London as being too German for taking things seriously, TL understands that our need to categorize and look at the world in binaries shuts itself to the nonconformism of belonging to different cultures. This forms the core idea of Re-movement, the title used as a double entendre to movement – and to how all this travel can remove cultural idiosyncrasies “These are aspects which a lot of us tend to identify as an essential part of our being – which I’ve come to discover as non-essential for myself. It’s also about this entire virtual lifestyle I’m living for the past few years – not just with my studio on a laptop – but my entire family being in the cloud. My most intimate and close relationships are on a screen – so it’s a lot of removal that is happening and a lot of baggage being shed, which has led me to a good deal of introspection. I’m still processing to be honest.”
Re-Movement ‘celebrates the acceptance of a blur of constantly changing backdrops as a home and the shedding of socio-cultural baggage to reveal stories closer to the truth of the human condition and its journey on planet earth’.
Words by Shaista Vaishnav