interview by dimmSummer
transcribed by derek
listen: Streaming MP3 40kbs mono
ET: I am sitting in the massive apartment of the music impresario Fabian Alsutany, better known as Sultan 32. How did you get into this?
SULTAN32: I got into this crazy world of music business by being a music fan. It started as being that kid in high school putting together the school talent show, DJing the school dance, and that evolved into me being in bands and taking care of the business of my bands, booking them, putting together concerts after that. That evolved into me being a booking agent at a couple of night clubs, then starting to manage some bands then "Wop, Bam," lo and behold here we are 2002 and I'm doing a million and one things.
ET: So do you sleep?
SULTAN32: Not that much.
ET: So you are the manager of how many different projects?
SULTAN32: About four different artists full-time, about three different artists I have partners with, and I have my hands in a lot of other people's business, if they invite me to get involved, and I can actually bring something to their bank account.
ET: And do these artists have names?
SULTAN32: You can find out about my artists on uprisemgt.com.
ET: OK, but just to name a name one, Karsh Kale, is that right?
SULTAN32: That is correct.
ET: Tabla Beat Science?
SULTAN32: Yes, I'm involved with Tabla Beat Science, and Ex-Centric Sound System, John Brown's Body, Hassan Hakmoun, and a couple of others.
ET: So you got your hands full. Why don't you tell us about how you met up with Karsh?
SULTAN32: Back in 1996-7 I was playing in a band called 32 Tribes. As we were on our last legs, that band consisted of myself, (SHAHED SADEKI) - who sings on Karsh's album - and Karsh Kale, who joined as the last drummer. We had that Spinal Tap problem where we kept losing drummers every couple of years.
The way I met Karsh was really through a blessing. I was invited to go with Shahed and his mother to a performance of Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn at a friend's house in Queens. Nusrat and his manager used to regularly eat at a restaurant on Lexington Ave. here in New York called (CHEK KARA). Nusrat was there, Nusrat's manager was there, the rest of the party was there, and they had invited Shahed's mother to come, because Shahed's mom would always tell Nusrat "My son is a great fan of yours" and embellish on those types of things. We were all there at this home with about 20 people.
The only other person that was there of our generation was (VISHAL BATE). We became friends with Vishal and Vishal and Karsh has been friends and performing together for years, and he brought Karsh to a 32 Tribes show. They were regularly coming to the shows and once we had lost our drummer during that chapter of 32 Tribes we started auditioning people Karsh came, and he was the one. That's how I came to know Karsh.
ET: How do you guys go about recording your albums?
SULTAN32: Due to the advancements of technology, the way that people record albums these days is completely different than how it was done years ago. You would bring musicians into a studio, everyone would stay in the studio for hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, months and months, and create music by recording everything to tape. Now you can record a record in New York, go to India, throw it all into a computer, chop it, dice it, and create whatever it is going on in your head without having to teach 30 musicians what to play because now the technology is there that you can program it yourself or bring in the musicians and take your favorite parts of what they're playing and put it into your songs without having to have them repeat everything until they get it right.
The person who can best speak about how this record was recorded is Karsh because he made that album, it was his baby and dream to create that album for a long, long time. It was really Karsh pulling together his favorite musicians, put them in various settings, recorded them, took it back to his home, did his alchemy and magic, and you have Realize.
ET: Who's this guy Sultan 32 that everybody keeps talking about?
SULTAN32: Sultan 32 was born out of the need to come up with a DJ name, the need to come up with a name that was separate from my day-to-day business activities name that way it would be a separate identity from my day-to-day work as a manager and festival producer. That way I had a name to create DJ events, compilations, remixes, and things like that. Sultan 32 is me using a name, that's all it boils down to. I took the Sultan from my last name and the 32 from 32 Tribes and tagged it on.
ET: How long has your DJ party, Globesonic, been going on now?
SULTAN32: Close to two years. Before that I was doing the Future Proof parties, before that I was doing the Reaction Sound System parties here in New York which led to the Reaction Sound show that was on the Pseudo-Online network. A lot of my activities have been focusing on the technological advancements of world music or traditional cultures that are put on an electronic platform, which is why I'm such a big fan of Ehtno Techno because it is really representing this sound of modernization of traditional music put into a 21st century context.
A lot of the work I do as Sultan 32 or as a person representing artists is really hunting down the music and artists that are producing this modern type of music. My hopes and views is that this planet becomes more and more of the cliché "smaller place in the world" and more and more of these mixed generation Americans and Europeans and people transplanted from their traditional homelands and brought into the cities is that this music speaks to them because I am one of them and the fans of Globesonic are those people.
ET: With all your different outlets, the main theme has always been this seeking out of the old interpreted to the new…
SULTAN32: Let's talk about Ethno Techno for a minute.
ET: All right, we're going to talk about Ethno Techno.
SULTAN32: Why did you start Ethno Techno? No, listen for a minute For me, Reaction Sound System was started because it was a vehicle to promote what Ethno Techno is doing now. On average we were handling between 7,000 to 10,000 people a week. that were checking out our world music show. We brought in interviews and did artists and were doing all those types of business.
SULTAN32: Ethno Techno, for me, I'm so happy that someone came up with the right name for it because I've been looking for it for a while which is why Globesonic came around. I think that what Ethno Techno is trying to do, what Globesonic is trying to do, what Karsh is trying to do, is to bring a new face to music. That face is not "World Music." We say Ethno Techno for the easy way for people to be able to digest what this music is but that's still not exactly the term. The hope is that people who are listening to this and are supporting it globally will continue to support it and get their friends hip to it, because it's not just an Indian thing, it's not a Latin thing, it's the future.
A lot of us are pretty tired of the garbage we're seeing on MTV and the continual hammering in our heads of hip-hop and rock. No disrespect to rock or hip-hop, but there's a hell of a lot more music going on in the world and there's a hell of a lot of things that people are going to buy and check out on stage and the hope is that people will continue to support what we're doing.
ET: I thought we were talking about Ethno Techno (laughter). Are we going to see a manifestation of Sultan 32 on a label?
SULTAN32: I think a record by Sultan 32 is not going to happen anytime in the near future. It's not a priority of mine. It's a hobby of mine, I've been creating tracks since I was a teenager - so this has been going on for years - but I took a couple of years off from making music because I made the conscious decision to become a 100% businessman. In the process of that I was still DJing and the need to start creating tracks became apparent about two years ago so I've been slowly creating music and remixes and all that type of fun stuff.
ET: But you are putting together compilations for some companies.
SULTAN32: There's a couple of things cooking but I won't talk about them until the contracts are signed.
ET: Why don't you tell us about the upcoming Triloka compilation coming out this summer?
SULTAN32: Essentially the vibe will reflect a lot of the hits that are played during the Globesonic parties. A lot of music from around the world that is focusing on dance and people being able to dance to technologically enhanced ethnic music. That's the direction the comp is going in. All my favorite people will be on it, like Karsh, X-Centric Sound System, The Gotan Project, John Brown's Body, Manu Chao remixes. I'm in the process of getting all the licensing in place and hopefully that record will be ready by this summer.
ET: You keep saying the world "ethnic" and "ethno" as if white people aren't invited. DJ Cheb I Sabbah doesn't like using the term because it brings about a certain dirtiness to it. It does say that ethnicity is sort of a separatist word. How do you feel about this?
SULTAN32: I think the ethnicity factor is two-fold. There's the good side of it, in record company terms, which means you can directly market to this ethnic group. The bad side is that excludes people who are not of that ethnic origin. In current terms and times, the need to be using the world "ethnic" is marketing terms is somewhat relevant only because as the planet is getting older and more and more children of mixed lineage are being born the word is slowly going to be erased. There will be more mixed people who are going to be walking around. People living in India, Colombia, and the Middle East are all moving to essentially Euro-dominated countries. In that they are completely changing the demographical ethnic fabric of those societies while bringing along their cultures. A lot of this music we're supporting is based on these people, or at least being influenced by what's coming from these cities as these sounds reach their shores and they consume them and bring it back out mixing what they have learned from abroad. More and more of that music is being created every day on this planet, and that is the future direction of pop music, God willing.