Coachella 2023: Line-up praised for South Asian representation

Image source, Getty Images

Blackpink, Frank Ocean and Bad Bunny have been announced as headliners at this year’s Coachella.

Frank Ocean was due to headline in 2020, but the event was rescheduled multiple times and later cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival will run across two weekends in April in Indio, California.

But some fans are praising the South Asian representation on the line-up, as Punjabi singer Diljit Dosanjh and Ali Sethi from Pakistan will perform.

Mercury Prize nominee Joy Crookes, Jai Paul and Jai Wolf will also be playing sets in the Southern Californian desert.

‘A proud moment’

For fan Vishma Rai, seeing the likes of Diljit Dosanjh and Pasoori singer Ali Sethi perform at a major festival is a significant moment for South Asian representation globally.

“Because we always find ourselves listening to that music, but never see it get that widespread attention and appreciation,” Vishma, 27, from Bristol, tells BBC Newsbeat.

Image source, Vishma Rai

She feels Diljit is an artist that brings people together through music.

“All age groups listen to him,” she says. “Babies are vibing to him along with people like me in their 20s, it’s a way of connecting different groups of people.”

‘It opens doors’

Vishma thinks the representation can have an impact beyond music, too.

“It personally means the world [to see these artists],” she says. “It’s all about representation and it opens up so many doors, I feel for the community.”

Joy Crookes, who’s from South London, comes from a mixed heritage family – her mum is from Bangladesh, and her Dad is Irish.

Before she was announced for the festival, Joy spoke to Newsbeat about the importance of musicians from minority groups being given a “platform”.

Image source, Getty Images

Vishma says playing a huge festival like Coachella has been a long time coming for artists like Diljit “who has been grinding for years.”

Jay Shergill, who is Punjabi herself, agrees – she describes it as a moment where Diljit is “breaking barriers and paving a way”.

“Everyone around is so proud and so happy that he’s made it,” she adds.

Image source, Jay Shergill

The 20-year-old from Birmingham describes his concerts as “such a vibe”, a reference to his hit-song Vibe.

“When I saw him on his UK tour, I’ve never seen another Punjabi singer have production like him and his energy was so high throughout.”

Analysis by Haroon Rashid, presenter of Beyond Bollywood on BBC Asian Network

Diljit Dosanjh is a visionary. He’s consistently pushed boundaries for Punjabi artists and set new benchmarks for what can be achieved in terms of scale, genres and collaborations.

From being the first turban-wearing actor to lead a Bollywood movie to becoming the first Punjabi artist to sell out the O2 Arena in London, Diljit has been praised by the South Asian community for representing his faith and culture on international platforms.

In an interview in January 2020, Diljit told me he closely follows trends in American music to try to elevate the production of his live shows.

Referencing artists like Drake, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes, he voiced his ambitions to put on world-class live performances that would be on par with any mainstream artists.

Pakistan’s Ali Sethi is another trendsetter.

He initially found fame by modernising traditional poetry for a new generation who felt disconnected to the ghazal genre. He then used that platform to experiment with styles that were unheard of for South Asian audiences.

With last year’s Pasoori, Ali Sethi united music lovers from across the sub-continent who put aside any political or religious differences in their unanimous appreciation for his music.

His classical training has made him an authority on music while his eclectic personality has helped position him as a pop star.

Coachella will take place on 14-16 and 21-23 April.

Bad Bunny is set to headline both Fridays, girl group Blackpink are playing the Saturdays and US singer-songwriter Frank Ocean is taking the Sunday slots.

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