Hi, I’m Kris Malarchist, player of fretted instruments with RSVP, the nation’s no.1 festival Bhangra band. I joined them in 2002, having met them at a festival where I was the resident DJ. I enjoyed their raucous, riotous performance, and was delighted to be invited to join them a couple of weeks later. I was initially asked to play guitar, but have since worked electric mandolin and my customised tenor guitar into the format.
Since then the band has taken over all our live, and become a sprawling chaotic hydra, with its heads popping up in all sorts of places, from education workshops to bizarre yet compelling Indo-Anglian fusion, as well as our normal band work. We’ve travelled Europe and the UK bringing the big Bhangra beat to places you wouldn’t normally expect, and in the process we’ve opened the door for lots of other Asian artists to follow, people who are legends to us, but unknown outside the circle of the aficionado.
The band has its roots in the musical traditions of the Punjab, but inevitably these have become inextricably entwined with European influences, from Romani (with their shared Indian heritage) to English folk. Bhangra music is the celebratory music of Punjabi harvest festivals, and that’s very much a common cultural thread. Celebration is very much the watchword, and we’ll happily fit in wherever a party’s being held. We always teach some traditional dances as part of the show, and everyone always dances. Always!
Our singer Dildar originally formed the band to play weddings, initially using backing tracks. When WOMAD offered him his third ever gig, these were swiftly upgraded to a live band, with the addition of other family members, some of whom had to learn their instruments from scratch! Since then we’ve played well over a thousand shows at festivals and venues large and small. We’ve played Glastonbury and WOMAD, the Isle of Wight Festival, countless folk festivals, and toured in Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Our global outlook means we’re always on the move, and always looking for something new to do.
The band were delighted to play for the Bristol Old Vic’s 250th birthday, and we are so looking forward to returning with our full live show. Bristol Old Vic is such a special venue, and we plan to give it our all!
RSVP Bhangra return to our stage Fri 22 Jul. For more information and to book tickets, click here.
Photography by Jon Craig and Jack Offord.