Daytimers is hosting a livestream in solidarity with India's farmers

Ahead of their 24-hour fundraiser, the South Asian music collective have curated a playlist of talent from across the diaspora.

by Frankie Dunn
12 March 2021, 5:03pm

In September 2020, the Indian government passed three new agriculture laws in a move that Prime Minister Narendra Modi says is an attempt to reshape the industry. With 60% of the country’s 1.3 billion people making a living in that sector, farmers say the new laws will leave them vulnerable to the exploitation of corporations, by taking away the safety net of guaranteed prices for certain crops that had previously existed. This would leave them at greater risk of losing both their land and livelihoods.

Since November, thousands of farmers and their families have been camping outside of New Delhi in order to participate in mass protests calling for the repeal of these laws. The impact the changes will have is clearly huge, and many believe the Western world isn’t talking about the issue enough.

London-based South Asian music collective Daytimers wanted to raise funds and awareness, and so — in collaboration with non-profit No Nazar — they’ve organised a 24-hour livestream fundraiser event in solidarity with Indian farmers. On 13 March, a line-up of over 30 incredible artists and DJs from across the South Asian diaspora will take it in turns to show viewers their all-too-often-overlooked talent. Expect familiar faces including Nabihah Iqbal, Anu, Jyoty, Raveena and Joy Crookes to make appearances, as well as a whole host of other incredible artists. The event will be hosted by Naina and Samrai, with all money raised going directly to Khalsa Aid.

“I think the event was born out of frustration really,” Daytimers tell i-D. “When we first learned about the protests and tried to research further, the more we read about it the more disheartened we felt about the overall lack of visibility in Western mainstream media.” They go on to note the resounding lack of Instagram ‘activism’, the type that has been so prevalent surrounding many other injustices in recent times. “Considering the size of the protests and the scale of the human rights violations occurring in India, the lack of awareness, or ‘uprising’ online, was disappointing for us.” 

By using music as a vehicle for bringing people together, the collective hopes to shine a light on what’s happening on the ground in India. “With the Daytimers collective being based in the UK, we immediately understood the privilege we had in being able to express ourselves both creatively and politically through putting on an event like this,” they explain. “Unfortunately, this luxury is not available to our affiliates in India (especially in the face of government censorship), which made it even more important to support them and be an international voice for the silenced.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s livestream, we spoke to Daytimers to find out more about the impact of these new laws, the way in which their musical community has united behind the cause and what to expect from the event itself. The collective have also curated a playlist of music by artists affiliated with them and the fundraiser, as well as other South Asian artists they admire. Press play and continue to educate yourselves below.

Can you tell us more about the impact of these new farming laws?
Of particular interest to us, is how they may impact women. Women, once confined to their homes, have come out in full force. Standing in unity at the protest frontlines are women of all ages, braving the winter cold, caring for their children and fighting against the new laws. It is remarkable that in such circumstances, women are not only participating but leading the protests. 85% of rural women work in agriculture, but only 13% own land. Their contributions to the agricultural sector are rarely considered in policy such that many are even disqualified from receiving bank loans or support from government departments.

As women farmers have been outrightly denied of their basic rights, Dalit [a name given to those belonging to the lowest Hindu caste group in India] women are further marginalised. According to ActionAid, 70% of Dalit people are landless. With limited access to credit, technology and support (and with patriarchal land ownership policies), the new laws create further instability and insecurity for women. 

What has the response to the event been like from the South Asian musical communities you approached?
Absolutely incredible. I guess we always knew that people from within our collective would always be down for an event like this, as it would give them a chance to celebrate and showcase South Asian art and music for such a great cause. But I don’t think any of us were ready for the support we received from other DJs and collectives. There hasn’t been an event in the West featuring this much of the SA community coming together in years, and we’re glad that we can be at the centre of this new wave of the South Asian underground here. We are so grateful for all the support and can’t wait for you to experience the music!

What can we expect from the livestream on 13 March? 
A bit of everything! The aim is to raise as much money as we can for Khalsa Aid and the protesting farmers, and in putting together this livestream, we’ve created a line-up that is festival-worthy. We have everything covered — from R&B, house and sample heavy beats to techno, drum and bass, club edits, left-field bass and more. This is a real celebration of the incredible producer and DJ talent that exists within the South Asian community. 

Despite the incredible contribution we’ve made to Western music and different underground scenes, we’re still not given the credit and spotlight that we deserve. This line-up proves that the talent is out there, and there’s no excuse for recycling the same white, male DJs at events. 

In between the DJ sets, we’ll also have [i-D contributor] Kieran Yates giving a talk on the situation in India, as well as a collective from India performing. It’s important to highlight that they’ve had to anonymise their set out of fear of pressure and persecution from the Indian government. So, while this is an event that demonstrates our enormous talent, it is also grounded in a strong reality. 

Tell us about your playlist selection… 
We wanted to make sure that we showcased the broad talent and output of the South Asian artists who make up the line-up, Daytimers, and the people we love listening to. We also thought it was important to include the artists that came before us, and who inspired some of the music we create — no list would be complete without the pioneers Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney. If this list tells you anything about us, it’s that the talent is boundless and the future is ours.

Sign up to the free event (taking place on 13 March) here and, if you’re able, donate generously here.