Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Talvin Singh in Conversation

12 May 2017, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Talvin Singh Image

Event Information

Open to



Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World


Institute of Advanced Studies
Gower Street
United Kingdom

Musician, programmer and producer Talvin Singh, winner of the 1999 Mercury Music Prize, will be in conversation with Tariq Jazeel in an event hosted by the IAS in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of South Asia. The event is sponsored by and part of UCL Grand Challenges' India Voices programme.

Singh will discuss his current and early work, the role of creativity, experimentation and fluidity in his music, as well as its broader relevance for Britain's South Asian diaspora, for British multiculture more generally, and in India and beyond. He will also be playing tabla and some previously unreleased recorded tracks. The event will be followed by a wine reception.

Talvin Singh was born in London in the early 1970s. His upbringing in London and his early exposure to Indian classical and folk music were amongst his early influences. His musical tastes ranged from Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha Khan to local bands like the Jam. It was this diverse appreciation for music that inspired him to seriously consider training in tabla, which he did at the age of 15 when he travelled to India and established what has become a lifelong commitment to learning the instrument with Pandit Lachman Singh Seen in the Punjab. By the age of 18, Singh was soon in high demand in London as studio musician, programmer, producer and tabla artist on the late 1980s underground scene. He collaborated with artists such as Sun Ra, Massive Attack, Bjork, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. 

As the early 90s urban club and music scene rapidly progressed, Talvin's club night - Anokha, hosted at the Blue Note Club in Hoxton Square - hosted early experiments with an emerging British-Asian sound. He provided platforms for new acts such as Asian Dub Foundation, Joi and the State of Bengal, as well as introducing the music of A. R. Rahman to a European audience for the first time. Singh conceived and licensed a compilation album, "Anokha: Soundz of Asian Underground", which was received to instant acclaim and remains a landmark record. His club-night became the stomping ground for tastemakers, clubbers and record label A&R reps. The highly evolved melody and complex rhythmic intensity of Indian classical music meeting the technology and gritty electronica in Jungle began a music sub-genre with which Talvin Singh is synonymous: the sound of an Asian Underground.

Island Records offered Talvin a world-wide recording deal, and Singh's 1999 debut solo album "OK" won the celebrated Mercury Music Prize and South Bank Prize that year. Talvin Singh continues to write and produce music, and to work as a music director for various creative projects. He is one of the UK's most influential and innovative musicians, and his work has been instrumental in bringing South Asian aesthetics into British popular culture and beyond. 

All welcome. The registration link is here. A video of the event can be found below:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpRjnEzhaKc&t=83s