Debashis Sinha recently released his stunning new album ‘The White Dog‘ on Berlin’s Establishment Records. A second-generation South Asian living in Canada, Sinha bends the boundaries of electronic music, drawing from the electroacoustic craft, musicological research and his Bengali heritage. His Establishment debut compiles material from a live Canadian Music Centre concert, a retelling of Buddha’s awakenings, and scores reworked from audiovisual projects and film scores. Live, it translates into a deeply engaging performance where live drumming is processed into (open-minded)club-ready rhythms, a contemporary form of IDM grounded in the Indian subcontinent.
We sat down with Debashis Sinha to get a better understanding of his work and the man behind it, as he talks us through his past, present and future.
My name is Debashis Sinha but you might know me as Debashis Sinha. I was born in Winnipeg, Canada, which is often colder than Mars in the winter and grew up in Winnipeg, Canada, where the mosquitos are as big as flies in the summer.
When I was a child my idol was John Bradbury from The Specials, because of the snare drum sound on their first album.
When I was 6, I started playing the drums, but only had lessons from bitter teachers for 2 years, so I quit my lessons. It was then when I realised that I could explore music on my own and learn a lot (but did not realize the importance of structured, dedicated lessons) and decided to keep doing it my whole life.. Since then I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by curious people who wanted to make art, and who encouraged me to keep on the path I was on.
One of the best gigs I played was probably all the shows and recordings with Knuckleduster, a duo I had with Berlin musician Robert Lippok. It was so much fun because I learned something new every minute we worked together and it was the best way to hang out with a friend.
One of the best gigs I have been to was The Stranglers, in Winnipeg, when I was 12 years old. I had no idea who they were (I was there to see the opening band, who couldn’t make it across the border). I was totally unprepared and fell completely in love with their sound. I loved how unhinged they were onstage at times, and their sound. I had never heard anything like it.
Now I live in Toronto, Canada with my wife and daughter. In my house you can find a lot of – maybe too much – stuff, despite our best efforts, and a lot of – but not enough – sound making things. and my refrigerator is usually full with condiments.
I enjoy doing what I do, thank goodness and puttering around the house and visiting local coffee joints when I can a lot. I can spend hours looking for the right reverb. One of my favorite places to visit is the local park, Dufferin Grove, because it’s a park designed with the community in mind, and works well for the most part.
On weekdays I have a varied schedule – a lot of my work is sound design and music for theatre – so I’m either stuck in a dusty black box or in the process making music to be played in a dusty black box and on weekends I usually see above (but also try and take the time to spend with my family when I can).
My favorite song at the moment is “Pity Slash Love” by Prince Nifty, and I’ll probably have a different answer in an hour.
A film I watched lately and really liked was Victoria (Sebastian Schipper) – I don’t get a chance to go to movies very often.
The last series I watched and loved was The Wire – we’re not really big TV watchers in our house.
I am very inspired by visual art, and hearing people talk about their creative process. My dream is to keep doing what I’m doing, for the most people I can.
My worst nightmare is not being able to make music.
I love making sound for stories and hate illogic thinking, and the confusion of facts and values.
I am addicted to Salamibrot mit Kaffee (salami sandwiches with coffee), I just cannot stop looking for treats.
I get totally fucked up, when I have to deal with jet lag. Very disorienting. Tomorrow I need to travel to Berlin to play at ACUD Macht Neu in support of my new release ‘The White Dog’ on Establishment Records.
Local Suicide reminds me of an irreverent but well meaning and intelligent young elementary school student.
Tomorrow Berlin. Shows and hangs. Delicious coffee. Happiness.
Next month summer in Toronto. Lunches in Dufferin Grove Park with my kid. Family visits. Live shows and theatre workshops.
Next year more of all the same!
In 10 years I hope to be doing what I’m doing, with the people I work with now, and with a whole slew of new folks in Canada and the world..
If I wasn’t a sound maker, I would be a teacher.
If my life was a Hollywood movie, I would have the main role, because it’s my life and no one can live it for me.
If I could have sex with anyone, it would be hmmm. No comment.
If I was a car, I would be a one that works? I don’t know anything about cars.
If I was an animal, I would be a Bear. No! Tiger. Wait! Elephant cub?
If I was a drug I would be Ibuprofen. It is useful. Or a vaccine for the same reason.
If I was an invention, I would be something that tries to make life easier for others but often forgets details about how to actually do it efficiently.
If I was an object, I would be something minimal – clean lines and what not – but I think that is more just me wanting to be that.
If I could date myself, I would take myself out to have salami sandwiches and coffee.
If I could play with anyone it would be a tough one! The Notwist or Radiohead (on drums), The Roots, Ofra Haza or Gorillaz (on percussion). I would like to collaborate with Frank Bretschneider!.
If I had only one wish, it would be peace.
I would never litter. EVER. Because it’s a dick move.
My word of advice to the reader would be to follow your own path.