A Slice of Culture – A column with an eclectic mix of South Asian cultural stories from the world.
Fresh off their successful collaboration with American rock guitar legend Joe Walsh, young Sarod virtuosos, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash announced their brand-new EP. Curated, produced, and presented by the brother classical music duo, We For Love aims to raise awareness and proceeds for the ‘Justice For Every Child’ campaign that was launched by Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF).
Founded in 2021, this national campaign is working to ensure victims of child sexual abuse and rape get timely justice and mental health support to enable them to heal and continue their lives with dignity and freedom. The campaign will intervene in 5,000 cases of child sexual abuse and rape in 100 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) in 100 districts across the country with the highest backlogs of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 cases across India.
Released on January 21, 2022 across all streaming platforms via Affetto Records, the six-track experimental EP embraces an eclectic mix of collaborators including Karan Johar, Karsh Kale, Malini Awasthi, Mahesh Kale, Shubha Mudgal, and the iconic Sarod Grand Master Amjad Ali Khan. The prolific Paresh Maity has been instrumental in creating the cover art of the presentation and has taken inspiration from his Odyssey of Celebration XII.
Tell us more about your recent collaboration with American rock guitar legend Joe Walsh.
Amaan Ali Bangash: Prayers was my father’s first collaboration with the rock and roll world. It’s truly been an honor to collaborate with Joe Walsh who is such a legendary figure. My brother and I were so honored to be a part of it! This project is a spiritually infused three-song EP which is an offering for the widespread human suffering. The album has a meditative, transcendent spirit. The EP’s tracks are Goddess, Healing Love, and Hope (We Shall Overcome). It was an organic feeling—both the cellular and cosmic levels of two traditions, which are often held to be radically different.
Ayaan Ali Bangash: We are very honored to be joined by several iconic Los Angeles-based musicians; drummers Stewart Copeland (of The Police) and Jim Keltner, bassists Nathan East, Leland Sklar, and Abe Laboriel Sr., keyboardist Ed Roth, guitarists Davey Johnstone (Elton John’s long time lead guitarist), and multi-instrumentalist Joe Vitale, with whom Joe Walsh has been a bandmate.
Tell our readers about the idea and inspiration behind your new EP — We For Love.
Amaan Ali Bangash: We were much honored to have performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and at the Peace Prize concert back in 2014 when Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai got the Peace Prize. Ever since, we wanted to take forward the message of the Satyarthi Foundation. ‘We For Love’ was an idea that became a reality very organically.
Ayaan Ali Bangash: Music is a powerful medium that connects humankind. ‘We For Love’ has indeed been a defining journey for us as artists and as fellow human beings.
Give us more details about its six individual tracks.
Amaan Ali Bangash: We For Love has the most diverse lineup of artists—in terms of soundscapes and sensibilities. From electronic to classical, from thumri to bhajans, everything seamlessly comes together in divine accord. In fact, this EP is our first presentation with so many artists coming together for a noble cause.
Ayaan Ali Bangash: The title track We for Love with Karsh Kale is in the electronic space. The track with Shubha Mudgal called ‘Fire Within’ is the beautiful Raga Shree with the vocals and Sarod seamlessly sailing together. We played the evergreen bhajan ‘Janaki Nath’ written by Goswami Tulsidas with the brilliant Mahesh Kale and of course, ‘Divine Krishna’ with Malini Awasthi who is taking forward the legacy of Girija Devi and the color of thumri. Out father presents the iconic favorite hymn of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Vaishnav Janato’.
How was the process of collaboration with stalwarts such as Karan Johar, Amjad Ali Khan, Karsh Kale, Malini Awasthi, Mahesh Kale, Shubha Mudgal, and Paresh Maity?
Amaan Ali Bangash: We are so honored to have a galaxy of artists who are such game-changers in their field. Creatively, it was a desire to work with all of them for years but perhaps this cause got us all together as all the artists resonated with the ethos of the campaign. Since it all happened during Covid times, technology came to the rescue!
Ayaan Ali Bangash: You could call it an experimental EP that embraces an eclectic mix of collaborators including Karan Johar, Karsh Kale, Malini Awasthi, Mahesh Kale, Shubha Mudgal, and our father and guru the iconic Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
You come from a classical background. How do you manage to keep your music global and universal?
Amaan Ali Bangash: Your music reflects who you are as a person. Whenever you are collaborating or performing with anyone, it is important to know each other’s nature and temperament, and collectively try to make a flower bouquet. You must be in a happy place when you are on stage as Indian classical music is deeply connected to spirituality.
Ayaan Ali Bangash: The idea was to create endless pathways to make a positive impact, which is both uplifting and action-inspiring. Today, the appeal of socially conscious music is widespread, and we are happy to contribute to this revolution time and again. We thank every artist on the project for wholeheartedly participating in the process and making this EP one of our most memorable collaborative pieces thus far. Hard to give it a genre really as an EP but perhaps global music is what the genre will be!
How have the past two COVID years been for you, personally and professionally?
Amaan Ali Bangash: Like all industries, the music industry too has been hit very badly with the pandemic. Many concerts and projects have all been invariably postponed, so it has been a big blow. Our salutations to all the doctors, nurses, and frontline workers who are doing such a great job round the clock. We also hope for peace and oneness to prevail with kinder and happier times ahead for the world towards hope and inspiration.
Ayaan Ali Bangash: Music is a powerful medium that connects humankind. ‘We For Love’ has indeed been a defining journey for us as artists and human beings. Today, the appeal of socially conscious music is widespread and we are happy to contribute to this revolution time and again.
What does 2022 have in store, and what can fans look forward to from you in the coming months?
Amaan Ali Bangash: Hoping that live events gain momentum again, and the planet heals with kinder and happier times. We are scheduled to be teaching at the University of New Mexico in spring, and also have shows in the US and Europe.
Ayaan Ali Bangash: We have some more unique collaborations lined up for this year. I am very excited about those, and also some film scores we are working on!
Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Wanderlust for the Soul, an e-book collection of short stories based on travel in different parts of the world.