From No Doubt’s Tony Kanal to Zayn Malik, the rise of South Asian faces in mainstream places has felt continuous. Every year, our presence as a creative force in pop culture is receiving more and more recognition. And music journalist Anupa Mistry’s latest project Indians From All Directions shows it.
According to her website, the project “splices together footage of diasporic South Asian musicians that have found a toehold of visibility — however fleeting — in modern pop music.” Mistry catalogs the various ways South Asians arrive, either as veterans of the industry or freshman, in Western music. Though not everyone featured in the project is Indian, the name, derived from a Das Racist and A Tribe Called Red collaboration, accurately represents the sheer variety of musicians present.
“I’ve been fascinated with brown kids making art since I was 11-years-old, listening to No Doubt — mostly for the bassist, Tony Kanal. From there, I’d notice other brown faces peeking out from my steady diet of music video and early internet music consumption: Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, LAL from Toronto, State of Bengal and Asian Dub Foundation, Voxtrot,” Mistry wrote online. “Everywhere I looked and listened — from mainstream pop to hip-hop to club music — there were people that looked like me. In the last few years, as representation has become an obsession of young people of all marginalized identities looking for role models, I started to suspect that a lack of a canon of South Asian pop stars left many of ‘us’ feeling as though M.I.A. really was it. Or that Nav’s insistence that he was the “first brown boy to get it poppin’” was true. It’s not. And the assumption is ahistorical!”
“The lack of connections being made across generations, caste/clan-affiliations, musical style, etc., was alarming. This isn’t to say that brown people have made it; I just want to push back on the idea that we can only be one thing in order to get ahead,” she continued.
For a full list of the musicians and works included in Indians From All Directions, visit Mistry’s site.