Name to know: Shivani Ahlowalia


Name to know: Shivani Ahlowalia

Her tropical bass act, Alo Wala, is inspired by political turmoil and violent storms

By Vatsala Chhibber  October 27th, 2014

She found her rhythm in Africa.
“After my masters, I co-founded an NGO in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, where we built the first quality recording studio in the country. It was the rappers in Bissau that got me started. They represented what hip-hop was when it started — this raw expression springing from injustice, with the aim to do something about it. We produced a mixtape documenting their reaction to the situation (the president and the head of the military were killed on the same day), encouraging their people to come together in the face of this political mess.”

She found her sound in Puducherry.
“I was there for an artist-in-residence programme, and on the fourth day, this massive cyclone hit the city. It was awesome and devastating. As we were standing in knee-deep water, watching the resort owner’s estate hit the floor, I was at a loss for words. He said, ‘This gives me the opportunity to rebuild better’ — that really stuck with me. It inspired the track ‘Bend Yuh Backbone’, which is about creating new realities in the face of destruction, and that defined the sound for the rest of our tunes.”

She found her collaborators in Copenhagen.
“Inspired by the time I spent in Bissau, I called [my friend] Asmund [Copyflex] to Copenhagen and asked him to make some music with me. At YoFok, the studio we are a part of, a collaboration began with little expectations. By 2013, Alo Wala was formed. Our music is inspired by universal love, the unknown, heavy bass, bright light, Michael Jackson and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Our transnational project features Indian producers in the global bass scene, like Nucleya and Brooklyn Shanti. Our first EP, dubbed CITYBOY will release worldwide in November.”                                                                                              

She’s bringing Pune a “bombastic uproar”.
“Our performance will be in your face, musically hypnotic and lyrically mind-lifting. I’ve seen people [at my gigs] do everything from crowd-surf to have seizures on the dance floor. The visual experience will be handcrafted by our VJ Mad-Es.”

 

Alo Wala will perform at the Pune and Delhi editions of Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Nh7.in/weekender

Photograph: Polina Vinogradova