Photo: Press (Mantra)
Most releases on Sneaker Social Club feel special in one way or another, but in the case of Damaged that was true on all possible levels. First off, Mantra explores a stunning variety of rhythms and tempos, all loosely connected to drum’n’bass but always going way beyond the genre’s established formulas for an exciting and forward-thinking release. Then there’s the fact that the Rupture and EQ50 co-founder so far hadn’t put out many standalone solo releases, putting emphasis on her community-oriented values by primarily contributing to compilations. There’s more coming though, as Indi Khera reveals in the interview that accompanies her contribution to our Groove podcast, an energetic set full of deep cuts and brand new material.
You’ve just released Damaged, your first proper solo release after a digital-only EP from 2012 and a slew of compilation tracks as well as 2016’s split single with Clarity. There’s more solo material forthcoming this summer. What role does producing music play in your life generally?
Production hasn’t been at the forefront of my life over the past few years partly due to leading a very busy life—we have three kids—but I think partly due to lack of self confidence. This year I’ve been writing a lot more, making it a priority, showing up even when I have a lot of self-doubt, booking sessions at pirate studios, etc., and it’s been wicked. I’m trying really hard to approach production with more lightness, not thinking about “outcome” or who may or may not be in it. Making music for the sake of making music, nothing else.
Some of the material on Damaged was recorded a while ago and the four tracks are quite different from each other on a stylistic level. What ties them together on this release?
Yeah, they’re all really varied! I think the main unifying theme is the bass. They’ve all got deep basses that follow a more dubwise pattern.
The EP was released on Sneaker Social Club and not the Rupture label you co-founded with Double O. Why did you work with Sneaker Social Club instead of putting it out through your own imprint?
Jamie [Russell, founder of Sneaker Social Club] approached me to work on something for him, I love SSC so it was a real honour to be asked. It’s a label that’s really experimental and isn’t bound by genre so it was a really good fit for this EP, which covers all kinds of flavours.
The latest releases on Rupture were part of a mini-compilation series in which each individual instalment is named after a planet such as Neptune or Uranus. What’s the concept behind it?
As a record buyer I love collectable series, Moving Shadow’s Two on One probably being my favourite. The planets theme worked for us as there was a good amount of variation. E.g., Venus is the planet of love so those tracks have a lot of emotion, Mars is red and associated with the God of War so it’s a red record with pretty aggressive tracks on them. Above all, it was really fun to put together and a lot of artists wrote tracks specifically for the series.
As an event series, Rupture has been around for 16 1/2 years, quite a long time in a fast-paced scene such as this and one in which your homebase London has undergone significant changes that were further accelerated by Brexit and the pandemic as well as a cost of living crisis. How would you characterise the current cultural and economic landscape, has it become harder to sustain long-running event series such as yours in a city like London?
We’re very lucky with Rupture as we’ve been established for a long time and have a beautiful and committed community. Our priority to use spaces with wicked sound, not being driven by “content” and numbers, resonates with our ravers. We only do four or so events in London a year so it’s pretty spaced out. Living in London can be pretty brutal at times and financially everyone is under a lot of pressure. That’s why we allocate some discounted/free tickets at our events. Dancing is a brilliant tonic to alleviate pressure and stress so our spaces need to be protected and respected at all costs.
There seems to be a renewed interest in the drum’n’bass sound coming from outside its core scene; even pop artists pick up on the sound—once again, you might say. How do you experience this phenomenon?
It’s all good. I hate the thought of music, especially jungle, which is so rebellious being commodified. On the other hand people are able to create whatever they want, if it’s coming from a place of true authenticity it’s all cool, whether I like it or not is irrelevant.
You’re a co-founder of EQ50, “a collective of women working towards fairer representation within drum and bass” that was founded in 2018 and offers workshop programmes and mentoring schemes as well as putting on events. What results are you seeing after five years worth of work? The latest FACTS study from female:pressure registered “a slow but steady rise in female and non-binary acts in electronic music festivals” more generally. Is this also reflected in the line-ups of jungle and drum’n’bass nights?
Progress has been made for sure, although it feels painfully slow at times. There are a handful of promoters taking meaningful strides in addressing diversity but countless aren’t. It can feel really disappointing at times but at EQ50 we feel our mentorship programme is the best type of activism we can do. We’re currently mentoring ten producers in collaboration with six record labels—pushing forward with hope that proper representation will be seen throughout the industry.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I’ve been playing out quite a lot recently and it’s all felt quite intense so although we do get to that place with this mix, I wanted to build it, take some time to go deeper than I have been in the clubs. It’s about 50/50 USB/vinyl, there’s loads of B-sides to classics and there’s also quite a bit of unreleased music. I really enjoyed recording this! The kids were at school, the sun was coming through the window, I was relaxed and it was just one take. Trust me, it doesn’t always happen like this! (laughs)
Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?
I’ve got a remix of Workforce’s “Observer” out on June 2nd and a four-track collab EP with Decibella and Tim Reaper out on Future Retro in July. I’m working on some pretty varied tunes, some of which have found a home, but the focus for me is on creating without being limited by outcome. I have quite a busy Summer with gigs and festivals, too, which I’m really excited about.
Stream: Mantra – Groove Podcast 379
01. Universal – Groove Therapy (Photek remix)
02. Nasty Habits – March
03. Voyager – A Long Distance (Collect Call remix)
04. Deep Blue – Destroyer (Remix)
05. Hidden Agenda – Fish Eggs
06. Calibre – I Don’t Care What You Say
07. Mike Parker – Neural Spines
08. Dillinja – Fuse
09. Double O – Corsica Groove
10. Deepz – Hope dub
11. Overlook – Detour
12. Paradox – Deep Sleep VIP
13. Source Direct – Artifical Barriers
14. DJ Monita – Luv Ta Luv Ya (95 Relick)
15. Dj Crystl – Let It Roll
16. Dj Crystl – Live EP
17. Elkie – Crazy Music
18. Mantra, Decibella & Tim Reaper – Dash it
19. Soulox & Soeneido – Lavish