Donn Bhat heads to Glastonbury


Donn Bhat heads to Glastonbury

The electronica artist joins Kanye West and Florence + the Machine on the festival line-up

By Vatsala Chhibber  June 23rd, 2015

There is an inviolable reverence that surrounds the Glastonbury stage (now under threat with Kanye West’s addition to the line-up, urine-bomb-armed purists will argue). Since its inception in 1970 – when tickets cost £1 and came with a supply of farm-fresh milk – Glastonbury headliners have included music greats like Metallica, The Rolling Stones and Radiohead, and finding attendance space is a tougher fight each year. In the 2015 edition, Mumbai-based composer-producer Donn Bhat – Anant Bhatt on his birth certificate – is in the same billing as big-ticket artists like Florence + the Machine, The Who and Pharrell Williams. Since the release of his sophomore album Passenger Revelator last October, the experimental electronica artist and frequent collaborator (listen to his retro-focused ‘Disco Disco’ with Sarosh Nanavaty here) has been keeping up with a packed gig calendar. After performing at the Sakifo Festival in the outlying Reunion Islands earlier this month, Bhat, 32, heads to the tiny English village of Pilton with drummer Ashwin Andrew and sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan. Here’s what you need to know about the artist:

He sweats the small stuff; and turns it into gold 
“I usually begin with something really small – it could be a feeling, a sound or a mood that I identify with. That is the beginning of a song for me. As I’m a producer, arranger and songwriter, I could have an idea of a lyric, a rhythm, a texture of a sound, or any of those permutations. It’s essential to make the most of the initial idea, to push it as much as one can. After that, it’s simpler to develop it into a full song. I don’t usually try to think of a song done for the album and tie it to the next one. I would rather let the songs breathe and hope that since it’s the same head writing them, they will end up having some connection to each other. Though even that is not necessary for me.”

His Glastonbury set will be a sign of things to come
“I will be playing songs from my last album Passenger Revelator, and the upcoming EP, Connected. The set is lyrical and melody-driven with strong ambient sections. Moreover, it will be great to have the sarangi sound being featured for the set; I think the mix of genres will interest people.”

He’s got big decisions to make off-stage
“I just got the Glastonbury app and I’m fully booked with who I want to watch and where; the list of artists is just unbelievable. One day at Glastonbury has more acts to catch than what one gets to see in a year of festivals here. Right now, I’m struggling to decide between watching the The Chemical Brothers and Flying Lotus!”

He plays favourites with music festivals
“Ziro Festival of Music is my favourite, mostly because it was our first show as a band. We performed there two years ago. The energy and vibe of Ziro is uncluttered by the usual festival scenes. The valley is stunning, plus there’s the rice beer! Magnetic Fields is another festival that’s doing its bit in pushing music beyond the usual fare of artists and genres. Like Ziro, it happens away from a city and attracts a crowd that is there to listen.”

He’s bringing new voices to the fore
“After Glastonbury, I’m going to be taking a small break and return to finish up the EP. I’m taking time off to go to the hills and might go travelling around Chhattisgarh to research the music coming from that part of the country. I’m excited about meeting musicians away from urban centres and collaborating with them. There is a lot of music around smaller towns and villages that should be getting out and hopefully I can be a part of that process.” 

Glastonbury Festival 2015 is on from June 24-28. Glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

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