ListN Up: Gabriel Dharmoo (June 18, 2021)

ListN Up is a weekly series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Gabriel Dharmoo’s artistic practice encompasses composition, drag, improvisation, performance and research. Gabriel’s work explores mixed-identity, brownness, queerness, imaginary culture, satire as well as the interplay between tradition and subversion. Key projects include his album Quelques fictions, his mockumentary performance Anthropologies imaginaires, the Ensemble Paramirabo opera À chaque ventre son monstre, his drag persona Bijuriya, as well as various voice + makeup videos. He is based in Montréal – Tio’Tia:Ke (Canada).

Hi, my name is Gabriel Dharmoo, and I curated this playlist of singers, vocal artists, rappers and composers. I focused on South Asian, Desi, brown, mixed and/or diasporic perspectives, because being of mixed Indo-Caribbean background myself, I am always eager to discover artists who engage with this shared heritage in meaningful ways. Bonne écoute!

From The Shadows To The Stars by Ganavya, words by Rohith Vemula

Ganavya’s voice has such emotional nuance, generosity and sincerity. I am profoundly moved every time I listen to this musical rendition of Rohith Vemula’s words. His suicide note sparked insightful discussions in India in 2016.

“Who’s That? Brooown!” by Das Racist, video directed by Thomas De Napoli

I am obsessed with Das Racist. They’re witty, hilarious, irreverent, and intellectual all at once. I wish I had heard this music as a teenager – so relatable for anyone living the brown, mixed-race and/or first gen experience.

Decolonize the Mind by Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones, video art by Neil Sanzgiri

Amirtha Kidambi’s genre-defying music deeply resonates with me. I strongly relate to many of its building blocks (free jazz, free improv and Carnatic music, amongst others) and appreciate the exploratory lens that drives her artistic approach.

Treatise on Trans-Traditional Aesthetics: No. 2, On Difference by Sandeep Bhagwati and Ensemble Extrakte

Multifaceted artist and composer Sandeep Bhagwati is invested in new ways of musicking collectively and across different types of borders. This piece, featuring Ravi Srinivasan and Deniza Popova on vocals, is just one example of his work with trans-traditional new music ensembles. Besides Ensemble Extrakte (Berlin), check out Ensemble Sangeet Prayog (Pune) and Sound of Montreal (Montréal).

“Her” by Madame Gandhi

This is my favorite Madame Gandhi track. I love her work as a musician and activist “whose mission is to celebrate gender liberation.” I have fond memories of seeing her perform live and also performed a drag number to her music!

Dessus le marché d’Arras by Orlande de Lassus, arranged and performed by Vidita Kanniks

My relationship with Western classical music repertoire is complex and unkempt, but I’m a bigger fan of early Renaissance and Baroque music than I let on! Vidita Kanniks excels in adapting and singing this repertoire to the Indian system of swaras, or sargam (solfège). When I hear this, my heart sings and smiles.

Vaai Irandu by Gabriel Dharmoo, performed by Gabriel Dharmoo and Priya Shah

The Tamil title of this piece, Vaai Irandu, means Two Mouths. This duality is present at different levels. Carnatic music overtly inspires the piece, but personal vocal techniques of mine coexist and influence the singing. Originally written for mezzo-soprano, my meeting with the stylistically versatile singer Priya Shah sparked the idea of a version for two singers whose vocal timbres are closer to the source of inspiration.

Live performance (Boiler Room: Wild City) by Arushi Jain / Modular Princess

Before you leave, please enjoy this live set by singer and synthesist Arushi Jain, aka Modular Princess!


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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