In recent years, Dialled In has cemented itself as a tasteful curator and purveyor of contemporary South Asian art, music and social issues related to the diaspora both abroad and here in the UK. After two sold-out festivals in London, Dialled In has recently further helped facilitate Pakistan’s first-ever Boiler Room alongside conducting masterclasses and workshops. Dialled In has helped grow the sector by unifying South Asians no matter caste, nationality or creed, fostering cross-cultural collaboration. Their work aims to inspire younger South Asian creatives by breaking down doors and paving a way forward.
CLASH checked in with two of Dialled In’s founders, Dhruva Balram and Ahad Elley, ahead of this weekend, where they’ll be curating a a stage at Four Tet‘s upcoming all-dayer in Finsbury Park, London on the 13th of August, which will showcase London-based South Asian talent such as DJs Anish Kumar, Arthi, Gracie T, Manara, DJ Priya, Mya Mehmi, Shivum Sharma, and disco duo Dar Disku.
Dialled in and the Daytimers crew have grown so much in the past few years, culminating in your own festival, and this upcoming event with Four Tet. You’ve done important work for South Asian artists. How do these recent successes feel, and could you reflect on your recent period of growth?
To see the rise of South Asian collectives and artists over the past two years has been truly incredible. It feels long overdue, especially after all the hard work that was put in by people over the past few decades. We want to ensure that this is a movement, not a moment.
There is a common misconception in the media that Dialled In is a Daytimers festival, but we’d like to take this opportunity to state that the two are separate organisations. Dialled In is its own company with an annual festival in Walthamstow. Daytimers is a collective that has its own parties, streams and organisational team. Initially Dialled In started off as a collaboration between No ID, Daytimers & Chalo, but it is now its own organisation. We all support one another and continue to maintain positive relationships.
What can we look forward to with the Four Tet event and what are you excited about presenting to audiences this summer and in the next few months?
The Four Tet event will showcase, yet again, what Dialled In’s curation is all about. We’re attempting to demystify the idea of what South Asian artists can be and the range of music they play – the ones who will grace our stage will further reiterate that.
The event is also the second in a summer of Dialled In events. We recently helped program, produce and curate a V&A Late in July, which was a massive success and kicked off a summer of successful events. Next week, we have Jaubi, a Pakistani jazz band, who recently performed at the Boiler Room Pakistan event, coming to perform at Union Chapel in London for their first-ever UK show. September 10th sees the return of our own festival in Walthamstow with a huge amount of surprises and acts that are sure to remind audiences why this movement feels so powerful right now.
What work do you think still needs to be done, and what are you focusing on as a collective now? What’s taking up your time and energy at the moment?
A lot of our focus at the moment is on our event on September 10th in Walthamstow. We are growing and increasing the number of venues and offerings that we’re putting together, from dance workshops to talks, to bigger live bands. We’re engaging young people from the area in the run-up to the festival, to learn about festival design in collaboration with Blackhorse Workshop. Every September, we want to keep evolving and learning about what the experience of Dialled In can be.
How can the music press and media sector support South Asian artists, and other communities that may not have seen the coverage they have deserved in the past?
The onus continues to be on our communities to find solutions to problems that we didn’t create. It would be nice to hear, for once, what the music press and the general media are actually doing because when we do offer solutions, they don’t seem to be undertaken.
I know you’ve recently done work with artists and communities in Pakistan and travelled there in recent months alongside other members of the Dialled In crew for a Boiler room show and tour. How did making those connections in person feel?
Being in Pakistan and helping to put together the first ever Boiler Room there felt monumental and was a taste of the scope of work there is still to be done, especially sharing knowledge and resources through workshops and cultural exchange trips. We have much more of that in the pipeline this year!
What’s the best way to connect with the Dialled in crew, if you are a South Asian artist or young person interested in getting involved?
We have a work with us form that we check every month, getting back to potential collaborators via email to see if there’s scope to work together. So far, we’ve already worked with and hired multiple individuals across set design, experiential design, social media and even musicians who have been on our festival bill!
Is there anything else you’d like to get on the record before these upcoming shows?
The best way to support our community is by showing up to the events, so we hope to see people – across gender, race, class, caste and creed – there!
Words: Louis Torracinta
Dialled in will be curating a stage at Four Tet’s all-dayer in Finsbury Park on the 13th of August. Tickets are available here.