What gave you the desire to revisit your album Beyond Skin in live performance 20 years after its release?

It’s an album I’m really proud of in a lot of ways and it was a very personal album.

Nitin SawhneyNitin Sawhney

But more than that it’s also an album I feel is relevant today in more ways than I would have hoped, probably because I think there’s been a rise in right-wing opinion and power in media and the politics which has taken place over the last few years, coinciding with Brexit over here and Trump in America and so on. I think the immigrant story isn’t told enough in a positive light these days so that’s why I want to revisit it because it was essentially inspired by the story of my parents as immigrants.

How do you think it will resonate with contemporary audiences?

I was very pleased we almost sold out the Royal Albert Hall in one day when we put the tickets on sale and the responses I’ve already had on Twitter and Instagram have been really quite moving. A lot of people have expressed how much the album meant to them and that it was an epiphany for them in certain ways in relation to how they felt about their own marginalisation. I’m not saying my work is that important but at the same time it was certainly part of a catharsis for a group of people who felt disenfranchised by what happened in this country over the previous 20 years.

What can audiences expect from your live performances of Beyond Skin?

I’ll be bringing singers and a tabla player who has worked with me for 30 odd years, Aref Durvesh, and also Anna Phoebe who’s going to be playing instrumentally with me. I’m also going to bring in an element of DJing when I tour it because I was a DJ for a very long time.

How have you developed as an artist since the album’s release?

I certainly have my own set of values and principles that I try to stick to but essentially I’m always exploring music as a language and trying to explore the potential of how you can collaborate through music and think of music as a passport to different possibilities. So from that point of view I’m always interested in working with a range of different arts. I’m always looking for ways to apply the language of music to different ways of thinking.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently experimenting with augmented and virtual reality, something I’m really pursuing to explore internal and external ideas of the self.


Beyond Skin Revisited is at OzAsia Festival, October 17, HOTA, October 19 and Melbourne International Arts Festival, October 20