desiFEST is North America’s leading outdoor South Asian Music concert. This year will be its 10th year and will feature a star studded line up of emerging and established musical artists and performers. It will take place at Yonge-Dundas Square on May 28, 2016 with 12 hours of non-stop musical entertainment.
desiFEST is a not for profit, grassroots organization. It has been established to foster and grow the large South Asian Arts Community in Toronto and across Canada. The organization helps to unify, create awareness and develop new showcase opportunities for artists. It has helped hundreds of artists and bands to gain exposure, collaborate on new music and strengthen the community.
The founder of the festival, Sathish Bala gives more insight on the desiFEST.
When was desiFEST established and why?
We started desiFEST in 2007 to meet a growing need for 2nd generation South Asian youth, making music that blended EAST and WEST and didn’t have a platform to showcase their music. While we had a feeling of how ‘big’ this concert can get, we had no idea that over 40k+ fans will come and support the artists each year!
What is the mandate of the organization?
Our mandate is to inspire the next generation of South Asian musicians through the creation of innovative music platforms.
Why did you feel there was a need for such an organization in Toronto?
10 years ago, you either sang Bollywood songs or didn’t. The reality was that we had a lot of South Asian artists who needed a platform and we didn’t have one. Too often, our music was lost in private parties and wedding receptions. We wanted to elevate the music and create global awareness for Canadian artists.
Can you tell us the selection process for musicians?
The process looks at current progression of the artist submitting to play at desiFEST. Amateur artists are anyone without a video or music out and most likely performing cover songs. New artists usually have an EP or a few songs with at least one music video. The established artists have been in the music business for over 5 years. With 25 slots available, we review each submission to look at the fit.
What do we expect this year?
More of the awesome desiFEST show and some surprises for the 10th.
Why the need for an all-female concert this year?
Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in the number of music musicians and we wanted to celebrate it more than just desiFEST. To encourage more female artists to come up, we felt that in addition to desiFEST, a unique show spotlighting female music would open more doors and break stereotypes.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Encouraging our artists’ community to believe in themselves and also encouraging the community to support and celebrate our musicians the same way we celebrate our academic success stories.
Which cities in Canada has desiFEST been organized over the years?
We have been in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver the first 5 years.
desiFEST has become the most anticipated kick-off event of the summer and a premier platform within the South Asian music scene.
This year, desiFEST will host three additional events to showcase the growing talent in the South Asian community.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 10 PM – 2 AM: All female line up called ‘She Rocks’.
Thursday, May 26, 2016 from 10 PM – 2 AM: First musical showcase, ‘Kothu Bass’ featuring artists from the large Tamil community.
Friday, May 27, 2016 from 7 PM – 9 PM: Host a distinguished panel of industry experts with a discussion of all aspects of the South Asian music industry in North America.
Saturday, May 28, 2016 10 AM – 10 PM: desiFEST North America’s outdoor Premier festival at Yonge Dundas Square.
For more information, visit www.desiFEST.ca