The Cultural Connection: Baalti

Photo by Raphael Weikart

San Francisco-based duo Baalti has released their third and most authentic EP, titled “Better Together”. The EP features five tracks that incorporate a blend of South Asian flavours from classic Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi music, along with a backdrop of breaks and euphoric club music. The record reflects the various club sounds the duo has been exploring and enjoying over the past year. The EP is set to be released on Seb Wildblood’s All My Thoughts imprint, which perfectly aligns with the fusion of sounds. 

KALTBLUT caught up with the duo as part of our #TheCulturalConnection series. Read the interview below.

KALTBLUT: Tell me about your latest/upcoming release.

Baalti: It’s called “Better Together.” It’s a five-track EP that’s been super long in the making, and it’s probably our most ambitious and fully realized project yet! We wrote these songs over the course of a year, in our Mission-district flat, on the road while touring, and on stage while improvising. Hopefully, the songs capture all the feelings we’ve had from a year of playing shows and discovering new music.

At its core, this EP is a conversation between the parts of us that are rooted in India and where we come from, and the parts of us that feel more at home on dance-floors and in clubs. Each of these songs has been our favourite thing we’ve made at one point or another! The title is us expressing gratitude for all our friends, family, each other, and the generations that came before us that enable us to do what we’re doing.

KALTBLUT: What kind of cultural and/or musical influences were you inspired by when recording/writing this release?

Baalti: Baalti started with us looking for ways to tell stories by bringing South Asian sounds and instrumentation into dance music. We were really excited by records from the 60s-80s that came out of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh – there were grooves, emotions, and artefacts in these records that felt really familiar yet missing from dance music today. For our first few releases, we were inspired by house grooves, and we explored ways to blend our favourite samples with lo-fi house and disco-oriented beats.

The latest EP is more inspired by faster tempos and moodier cuts that we noticed and liked in genres like breaks, electro, and bass music. We were really feeling Joy O, Nikki Nair, Overmono, and ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ at the time while finding ways to take our sampling style into harder, clubbier territory.

Photo by Raphael Weikart

KALTBLUT: How would you describe your sound?

Baalti: The new EP has South Asian samples layered with percussion-heavy club beats, and it feels euphoric and emotional at times. We’re playing with a lot of wobbly and growly basslines, breakbeats, airy chords, squelchy arps, and expressive vocal chops on this one. It’s also quite playful and loose since a lot of these songs evolved over several live improvisations.

KALTBLUT: How does culture/your surroundings/society intersect with your creative work?

Baalti: Club culture is really special to us, and we’ve tried to capture some of that dance-floor euphoria in our tracks. San Francisco has been really influential on our creative work as well – there are lots of really cool collectives here that are pushing underground music and creating spaces for artists to explore and showcase their sounds. It’s a really open and accepting scene that’s given us a lot of room to grow as artists.

We’re also hyper-aware that we’re making machine music for the internet age. The way music is created and consumed today gives us a lot of creative freedom – you can basically make whatever you want, however weird it is, and there’ll be someone on the internet who really likes it. It’s a lot easier to find your audience, and there’s no pressure to make anything that fits into the mainstream anymore. It’s all genre-less, and everyone listens to everything. We’re out here making Electro tracks with Tamil vocals, and people are vibing to it!

Stream Baalti’s EP on all platforms here and follow them on Instagram at @baalti.mp3 to keep up to date with upcoming releases and tour dates.

You can revisit all Cultural Connection interviews at #TheCulturalConnection here.

Listen to Baalti’s exclusive mixtape for KALTBLUT below.

Exclusive Mixtape: Baalti