“Kahwa Speaks” is a movement by Pragnya Wakhlu that aims introducing the world to the hidden facets of Kashmiri culture and helps preserving the language by means of a live audio-visual tour and story-telling. This comprises an experimental Kashmiri-English album which will be released globally on 16th July 2017 and an audio-visual element and tour for which we are raising funds.
“Kahwa Speaks” is not just an album but is the start of a global movement. It has been a long standing dream of mine that has been crafted over a period of research for the last 3 years that is finally coming to fruition by the grace of the almighty.
Born in Srinagar and raised in Pune, I have been a Kashmiri that has lived out of the state but one has a strong connection with my roots.We grew up in a time when we would share laughter and old folk tales over cups of Kahwa at our grandparents homes (who still live in both Srinagar and Jammu).
Kashmir has often been a misunderstood state as there is a lot of media attention on the violence in the state. There is so much about Kashmiri culture, traditions and music that remain concealed from the public eye. A lot of people that moved out of Kashmir and the generations after them have never been there and never visited.What these generations know about Kashmir is what they have heard from their parents or what they read in the media.
My endeavour with this album is to help audiences (both Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri) across the world to experience Kashmir for what it inherently is – a rich cultural state. To be introduced to the finer nuances of our culture and history through an experiential show involving live music , visuals ,story telling and Kahwa(Kashmiri tea). It is also an attempt at preserving the Kashmiri language by creating memorable songs that pique people’s interest in learning the language.
The original lyrics and compositions are aimed at spreading the message of peace and unity, strictly keeping away from any political agendas.
The six songs on the album which are in Kashmiri and have English translations are a mix of contemporary takes on the poems of Lal Ded and Habakhatoon , the traditional Wanwun and also some of my original compositions. The music is more contemporary with a slightly folky sound to create musical renditions that are a reflection of how most of us grew up..with diverse modern influences,yet holding a strong connection to our roots.
The album also features a song “Burning Fire” which is in Tibetan and English for which a music video has already been released. The song aims to bring awareness to the oft ignored and very critical issue of self immolations in the Tibetan community and their struggle to preserve their identity .This is a cause I feel really strongly about and felt the relevance of including it in this album for several reasons.
To test out audience receptivity to the concept, I previewed an audio visual show of the songs using photographs as background visuals (on a smaller scale) at the Kumaon Literature festival . Here, it was well received by prominent journalists and authors from the nations literary circuit. I further went on to do smaller shows “Kashmir through a musical Lens” at the Gyaan Adab Cultural center (Pune) and “Conversations over Kahwa” at Depot 48 Delhi. The audience at all the cities was very receptive of the concept and that encouraged me to take this to a higher level and at a much larger scale with your help.
Debut Album – Journey to the Sun (2012)
Singles: Kal Nahin Aata (2010)
Ok Listen: https://www.oklisten.com/album/kal_nahi_ata
I Let Go (2015): https://www.oklisten.com/album/i_let_go_party_mix
Burning Fire (2016)
Music Video for ‘Burning Fire’ featured on Vh1 and Rolling Stone
Music Video for Breast Cancer Awareness movement with NGO Yes to Life “Feeling Alive”
Music Video for Rise from “Journey to the Sun”
This project is an amalgamation of modern music with traditional Kashmiri. Since the songs are both in Kashmiri and English, one of the possible risks is part of the community mistaking my efforts as a “dilution” of Kashmiri culture. There are often purists that believe that translating songs into English is a form of dilution. I feel on the contrary that if one has to reach out to global audiences where one wants people to understand the meaning behind the music, one needs to communicate in a language familiar to them. The music is also a reflection of who I am as a person..a combination of diverse influences grounded in my roots. Hence I have adopted and stuck to my current approach.
The other challenges are of course monetary – being able to raise enough funds to finish the visual experience part of this project, pay the collaborators on this project the fee they deserve and tour successfully with the band to take this to every city we can. I hope to be able to raise this money with your goodwill and blessings.
The album and music video for ‘Burning Fire’ (the first single off the album) , an entirely self –funded effort has been released on Vh1 and Rolling Stone (digitally) exclusively as is on You-tube. It has garnered airplay and praise internationally as we took great care to create a high quality video that sends the message we were trying to get across without compromising. We adopted a very D.I.Y. approach to making this video thanks to the support of friends
The album has been recorded and mixed in Delhi,Mumbai and Pune. We have some very fine musicians and engineers from India and internationally working on this project. Hafod Mastering (U.K) has mastered the tracks for us and they are sounding pretty powerful. The album will be digitally released in association with Songdew’s Fresh Music campaign on global platforms in July 2017. The band is doing a launch gig in Delhi on the 22nd of July.
We plan to use the money raised from this campaign to put the visual pieces of the tour together and then embark on a 5 city audio-visual experience tour in India covering Delhi-Pune-Mumbai-Bangalore and Chennai. We will further take the show to as many cities in India as we can. We also plan to take this show globally to other countries (USA, South East Asia) and spread the movement to as many countries as we can afford to travel to.
We will also release one music video with the money raised from this campaign by the end of this year.
I am an independent artist and am very passionate about the work I do. I believe with all my heart in the power of music and story telling because I have seen it spark moments of inspiration, transformation and create sheer magic.
Unfortunately, the music scene in India today is still very bollywood oriented and one doesn’t end up earning a lot of revenue from live shows if you perform original music.One can either choose to go commercial and compromise , or then rely on the goodwill of people like yourself who are aligned with the same vision for our community.
The entire album Kahwa Speaks has been a self funded effort where I have invested my own savings. The content for the album has been put together after years of research and we have a great team working on it.
We would like to make this movement a world class experience and not compromise on the quality. This is something that would only be possible with your help. A chance for you to be a part of a big movement.. of the people by the people and for the people.
We are in the midst of a volatile time . While art is not always a solution to problems of such an intricate nature, what we hope to achieve with this movement is to bring forth moments of inspiration and an artistic experience, where people can choose to rise above their political agendas for some time and unite and understand the richness of a culture .
You can be a part of this movement…you can help create change..It starts with one person and then snowballs forward. We believe in the power of community united for a cause.
When I truly believe in something, I give it all my heart and soul and work with integrity. My previous track record has proven the same.I promise that the funds you contribute will be put to use only towards making this movement a reality and for us to spread the message of unity and culture across the world.
The “Kahwa Speaks” album has been a group effort and would not have been possible without the hard work of the numerous people involved. The album has been produced by Vinay Kaushal (Musicians Institute) my dear friend,bandmate and Fender and Ernie ball endorsed guitarist and musician
The songs were initially arranged with the band comprising of Manoj Mavely(Drums), Shailendra Wakhlu (Guitar), Sonic Shori (Bass), Shubhanshu Singh (Guitar) and Pragnya Wakhlu (Vocals, Guitar, lyrics,composition, arrangement)
The album features the following artists:
Gandhaar Amin(Flute), Praashekh Borkar (Sarod), Vinay Kaushal (Guitars), Sanjay Joseph (Guitars), Sonic Shori (Bass) and Nikhil Bidwalkar (Santoor)
Burning Fire mixed by Puneet Samtani. All other songs mixed by Vinay Kaushal.
Mastering: Gethin John (Hafod Mastering U.K.)
The album will be released by Songdew Network and will be available across all major music platforms (Apple music, Google play music, Spotify , Amazon Music etc)
Visuals and Video Team
Divya Gopalan: Founder director of Gunpowder Studios, Mumbai and director of the music video for Burning Fire, Divya Gopalan’ s captivating visual story telling has a way of connecting with people’s hearts and sending across a powerful message. An NID graduate, Divya was the Rocket Award winner at the Promax World Awards held in Los Angeles (2010) and brings with her numerous years of work experience working with leading clients across the industry. Divya will be directing a music video for the album.
Daksh Jain : With a Masters in Experiential design from NIFT, Daksh is the creative force behind the album artwork conceptualization and design. Daksh and his team of designers will be working behind the visual element of the show, creating a visual story board and animated content.
Hemant Grover: A creative photographer and an aspiring young music producer and Hemant Grover is the man behind the photographers lens . His avant-garde ideas and creative video editing contribute to making the photography and videos have great recall value.
The Travelling Band
The travelling band will comprise of
Manoj Mavely (Drums) : Ex-Berklee School of Music alumni and Director of Musictek School of Music and Manoj Mavely will be the force behind the drums.
Shailendra Wakhlu (Lead Guitars): With over 20 years of experience teaching and playing the guitar Shailendra’s intricate sense of harmony and melody contribute to the bands solid sound.
Danik Ghosh (Bass) : Danik Ghosh a talented bassist and keen learner associated with with various acts around the city such as Run! It’s the kid, The CopyCats, Prabhtoj Singh and others,
Pragnya Wakhlu (Rhythm guitar an Vocals): I guess I’ve talked about myself enough already:P
If you or anyone you know, is an Artist, go ahead and start a fundraiser on Ketto.