Mashup Gang

13 June 2012 | 5:48 am | Izzy Tolhurst

World music stalwarts Ganga Giri might have a comfy home in Australia, but as Izzy Tolhurst learns, it’s that “world” part that excites them the most.

Making a warm rich vegetable soup is hardly the thing you'd expect to find members of tribal-electro fusion band Gangi Giri doing when you call for an interview. Yet sure enough, when the phone is answered, founder and didgeridoo exponent extraordinaire, the epynomous Ganga Giri, is in the throws of making a “veggie mashup - with all sorts of soupie, vegie ingredients.” So there's definitely a career in the food industry if the music thing doesn't work out. For the time being however, music is more than fitting, and as Ganga Giri, the musical collective, edge towards the end of their Get it Started tour, Giri explains, “this tour's just about the single. It's about celebration and coming together, dancing and having a good time.” This festive, fancy-free spirit has been with Giri from the beginning of his musical career, and he recalls how his band evolved from an extended period of busking, as well as the desire to capture the energy of live performance.

“I started off making music I wanted to dance to when it wasn't around. I was looking for something a bit more organic and a bit more live. From there I went to London and was playing on the street with beats, and I would DJ and MC… We sold a lot of CDs and I was doing okay, and we met a lot of people. So I started to gather other musicians and friends. But it really started as me busking and wanting to share that with a band.” Now, after more than six album releases, Giri's dictum of “one world, one time, one people” rings truer than ever for the musicians in his band. Acquired from all corners of the globe, on stage it's “demonstrated both musically and visually. We are like one big community, and music is the language that brings everyone together. I see the show as a foundation for some of our Indigenous brothers, or other musicians we're collaborating with, to express a message or feeling. It's become a platform for sharing positivity and bringing the community together.”

The tour includes a 90-minute visual panorama, featuring the vivid landscapes of central Australia and the Northern Territory region of Arnhem Land. For Giri, the logic behind this inclusion goes far beyond mere retina stimulation. “I just feel that some of the most powerful possibilities for education that we have access to are music and visuals. I just want to do something positive for the planet and inspire people; I think that's really important. Music and multimedia are really amazing ways to share a message,” he feels. Inspiration can just as easily be sourced from playing to a 20,000 strong Canadian audience it seems, as Giri plucks out some highlights from a growing list of international tours. “The Vancouver folk festival was really amazing. We had our multimedia show and there were about ten of us on stage. It was just a big production, with big sound. Also playing in Bali last year, and playing with the traditional musicians. We just had a big mash-up. It was different and truly mystical. It was really symbolic of bringing culture together.”

Asked if this was the best his band has ever been, Giri replies, “Well, there's always room for improvement, but I reckon I could say that. The only limitation I find is having the budget to really showcase what we do. For instance, we don't take our drum kit player everywhere… we don't always have the big budgets so we often scale it down to two or three people. But when we are our full band, it's amazing.” For the remainder of the Get It Started tour, Giri says, “I think Katoomba could be interesting. I like going to new places.” Beyond that lies a trip to central Europe, and a brief visit to the home of their biggest fan base: Canada and North America. And if all else fails, there's always soup.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter