Karsh Kale

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Karsh Kale
Karsh Kale performing in 2009
Karsh Kale performing in 2009
Background information
Birth nameUtkarsha Kale
Also known asKarsh Kale
OriginWest Bromwich, England
GenresElectronic, Indian classical, Indian folk, rock, hip hop, EDM, jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, record producer, singer, songwriter, film composer, DJ
Instrument(s)Tabla, electronic tabla, drums, vocals, electric guitar, piano, keyboards, bass guitar, cello, santoor
Years active1994–present
LabelsSix Degrees, Mighty Junn, EMI, Manhattan

Karsh Kale (pronounced Kursh Kah-lay, कर्ष काळे in Marathi; born 1 November 1974) is an Indian-American musician born in England. Known primarily for his experimental tabla playing within electronic music contexts, Kale's career has seen him take on roles of an Indian classical tabla player, singer, songwriter, film and TV score composer and DJ. He is considered a pioneer of the Asian Underground genre, bringing elements of Indian music to Electronica and Dance. His career highlights include touring as the supergroup Tabla Beat Science (with Ustad Zakir Hussain, Bill Laswell, Ustad Sultan Khan et al.), 6 solo studio records from 1999 (several other record appearances), the seminal 2005 album "Breathing Under Water" with Anoushka Shankar, scoring and production for the 2019 Bollywood smash hit "Gully Boy", curating 6 acclaimed songs for the Indian Coke Studio in 2012, amongst many others. Kale is also popular for his eclectic collaborations with Sting, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Sultan Khan, U2, Norah Jones, Yoko Ono, and Herbie Hancock to name a few.


Early life[edit]

Born as Utkarsh Kale on 1 November 1974 to Indian Marathi speaking immigrants in West Bromwich, UK, Kale was raised in Stony Brook, New York after his parents relocated in 1977.[1]

Kale took an interest in drums and eventually became a tabla player. His father introduced him to a broad range of music, which included traditional Indian music, classical, rock, and even early hip-hop. From this broad range of influences, Kale, who was self-taught, developed his own style, which eventually led to his "electric tabla".[2]

Tabla Beat Science[edit]

In 2000, Bill Laswell founded Tabla Beat Science, inviting Kale, along with Zakir Hussain, Talvin Singh, Trilok Gurtu and Sultan Khan. Together, the group released Tala Matrix that year. The album is considered to be one of the most influential Asian Fusion albums to date,[1] and the group embarked on a tour, of which one of the shows was later released on DVD.[2]


While a Music Production and Performance student at New York University, Kale began playing in bands and working as a session musician.[2] In 1999, Kale began work on his first EP, Classical Science Fiction from India and began hosting bi-weekly "Futureproof" events, which consisted of DJ and electric tabla sets.[3]

These events attracted the attention of San Francisco label Six Degrees Records. Soon after, Kale became the first Indo-American to be signed to a solo recording contract in the United States, a move which was followed by Kale's first full-length album, Realize, in 2001.[2][4] Realize, often considered as a major milestone in what Kale called "Asian Massive",[5] was followed with 2002's Asian Massive Tour, which also featured Midival Punditz and Cheb i Sabbah, and 2003's Liberation. Zakir Hussain also was featured in the album and in the major attraction of the album "Milan".[2]

Kale's third album, 2006's Broken English, was predominantly set to English lyrics, a shift from his previous albums.

His follow-up Breathing Under Water, released in 2007, was the result of a two-year collaboration with sitar instrumentalist Anoushka Shankar.[2] In 2011, Kale released Cinema, which is influenced by Kale's experiences in composing for Bollywood. He also won GIMA Awards best fusion album for the same, beating A.R. Rahman.[citation needed]


Kale made two appearances in the Indian cult classic television show The Dewarists. In the first one in Season 1 (2011), he produced a Tabla-Electronica track in his signature style, called "Sacred Science", with Baiju Dharmajan, and Njelarathu Harigovindan;[6] and a folk-rock ballad in Season 2 (2012), called "The Minstrel's Tale", with his long time collaborator Papon, and UK-Based Carl Barat of the Libertines.[7]

In 2012, Kale was invited to produce 6 songs for the second season of MTV India's music incubation project, Coke Studio @ MTV.[8] This episode met both popular and critical acclaim, especially for Kale's take on "Kajar Bin Kaare", a classic from his Tabla Beat Science times, done as a tribute to Ustad Sultan Khan.[8]

Kale also hosted the Season 2 of MTV Soundtrippin', alongside Nucleya in 2013 for MTV India.[9]

In January 2016, Kale released his fifth solo studio album, "Up" featuring collaborations from his group "Karsh Kale Collectiv".[10][11] The album features guitarist Blackstratblues/Warren Mendonsa, Kale's long time collaborator flautist Pandit Ajay Prasanna, and vocalists Papon, Benny Dayal, and Monali Thakur, amongst a host of other musicians.[12] Following the release, Kale also did an "Up Live Tour" to promote the album in India across several concerts, featuring visual effects by The Wolves.[13]

Followed by Up, Kale appeared in Red Bull Studio Science in 2017[14] with a 20 minute talk about his song writing methods and his electric tabla,[15] and performed a live version of "Up",[16] and his own take on "Unkahi"[17] with the delhi based musician duo Shadow and Light, originally composed by Shadow and Light.

Kale covered "Mad about you" by Sting in 2017.[18]

2019 saw the release of "Infinity" – a 6 track EP which is the result of a collaboration between Kale, and Sarod virtuosos Amaan Ali Bangash, and Ayaan Ali Bangash.[19] The EP features Delhi based neo-classical duo Shadow and Light, and Sarod legend Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan.[20]

In the same year, Kale also put out an ambient electronica EP called "Little Whale" with Ankur Tewari, and Gaurav Raina of the Midival Punditz[21] and an accompanying music video.[22] and a single, "Disappear", with vocalist Tarana Marwah / Komorebi.[23]

Kale was also featured in U2's Eternal Remixes album (2019) for his version of "In the name of love / Pride" dubbed the 100 voices mix.[24] This song also features a music video, and re-penned lyrics that speak about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.[25]

After 2020's single "Across the Ocean"[26] and its remixes in 2021,[27] Kale released his sixth solo studio album "Touch", released as two EPs, Touch: 1 and Touch: 2 in May and July 2021 respectively.[28] Entirely conceived and produced in the pandemic, this album sees Kale favour electronic arrangements and only a few collaborations, namely vocalist Malini Awasthi, guitarists Warren Mendonsa and Bhrigu Sahni, and flautist Pandit Ajay Prasanna. Kale described the Tabla to be the "spine" of all his tracks in the album.[29] The track "Fist of Fury", is Kale's return to his signature Tabla-heavy electronica tracks, that he has dubbed "Liquid Tabla".[30] A music video of the title track "Touch" was also released on YouTube in June 2021.[31][32]

Karsh Kale reworked four of the Beatles' songs for the compilation album, "Songs Inspired by the Film – The Beatles and India", released in October 2021.[33] For these collaboration, Kale worked with Anoushka Shankar, Farhan Akhtar, Warren Mendonsa, Monica Dogra, Benny Dayal, and more.

Other work[edit]

Kale has composed for crossover and Bollywood films including Chutney Popcorn, Indian Cowboy, Ocean of Pearls, and Pyaar Impossible!. His tracks have also been featured in shows such as HBO's True Blood[34] and Real Time with Bill Maher.[35] Two of his songs from his debut album Realize, were included in as sample music in Windows Vista by Microsoft.[36]

Kale's songwriting credits include songs with Sting and Norah Jones,[37] and has remixed songs by artists including Paula Cole, Yoko Ono, and The Cure. Kale also worked with Midival Punditz on a rescoring of Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon.[2]

In 2012, Kale was one of a group of music producers selected to take part in MTV India's music incubation project: Coke Studio for its second season. Working with Indian artists including Warren Mendonsa, Monali Thakur, Benny Dayal, Apeksha Dandekar and more, he produced some of the series most innovative and well received tracks.[38]




Remix Albums

  • Redesign: Realize Remixed (2002)

Compilation Albums

  • 3 Tracks in Asian Massive (2002)
  • 3 Tracks in Samaya: A Benefit Album for Cheb I Sabbah (2012)
  • 4 Tracks in Songs Inspired by the Film The Beatles and India (2021)

With Tabla Beat Science[edit]

  • Tala Matrix (2000)
  • Live at Stern Grove Palm Pictures (2003)
  • Talaman Soundclash, Live at the Filmore (2004)


  • Bright Like This (1999)
  • Classical Science Fiction from India (2000)
  • Play (1999)
  • Pause (1999)
  • Back Seat Lavni (1999)
  • Distance Remixes (2000)
  • Manifest Remixes EP (2007)
  • Beautiful Remixes EP (2007)
  • Coke Studio @ MTV Season 2 (2012)
  • Funkcronomic (2016) (with Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell)
  • Little Whale (2019) (with Ankur Tewari, and Gaurav Raina of Midival Punditz)
  • Infinity (2019) (with Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash)
  • Touch : 1 (2021)
  • Touch : 2 (2021)

With Dave Douglas



  • "Distance" (2001)
  • "Liberation Remixes" (2003)
  • "Manifest (Kaushik Ambient Mix)" (2006)
  • "Manifest Remixes" (2006)
  • "Beautiful Remixes" (2007)
  • "Sacred Science" (2011) With The Dewarists Season 1, feat. Baiju Dharmajan and Njeralathu Harigovindan
  • "A Minstrel's Tale" (2012) With The Dewarists Season 2, feat. Papon and Carl Barat
  • "We All Fall" (2014)
  • "Up" (2015)
  • "Disappear" (2019)
  • "Across the Ocean" (2020)
  • "Across the Ocean Remixes" (2021)
  • "Lovers Remixes" (2021)


  1. ^ a b "Karsh Kale: Artist You Should Know". Blogs.kcrw.com. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography". Last.fm. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  3. ^ World Music Central.org. "Karsh Kale Biography". Worldmusiccentral.org. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  4. ^ "CD REVIEWS: Eric's Trip, Corrosion Of Conformity, Arling & Cameron and many more". Chart Attack, 7 August 2001. Paul Gangadeen
  5. ^ "Karsh Kale: Realize". Ethnotechno.com. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  6. ^ Sacred Science | The Dewarists (S01E09). Dewar's India. 11 December 2011. Archived from the original on 22 December 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ 'The Minstrel's Tale' | The Dewarists (S02E10). Dewar's India. 29 December 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ a b Kajar Bin Kare – Karsh Kale feat Salim Merchant, Coke Studio @ MTV Season 2. Coke Studio India. 11 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "Karsh Kale and Nucleya to host MTV Sound Trippin – Indian Express".
  10. ^ "Karsh Kale Collectiv "¨To Release Debut EP". 9 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Karsh Kale Collective Will Give Us a Dose of Global Fusion Music".
  12. ^ "Up". Spotify. 29 January 2016.
  13. ^ "India's Premier Visual Duo "Wolves" Are Making Their Glastonbury Debut". June 2016.
  14. ^ "Studio Science: Karsh Kale".
  15. ^ Karsh Kale on the electronic tabla | Red Bull Music Academy. Red Bull Music Academy. 14 June 2017. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Karsh Kale – Up (2017). Karsh Kale – Electric Tabla Archive. 1 September 2020. Archived from the original on 18 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ Karsh Kale, Shadow and Light – Unkahi (2017). Karsh Kale – Electric Tabla Archive. 1 September 2020. Archived from the original on 18 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "Karsh Kale - Mad About You". Retrieved 22 December 2022 – via soundcloud.com.
  19. ^ "Karan Johar unveils Karsh Kale, Amaan and Ayaan Ali's new album". www.radioandmusic.com. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  20. ^ "Karan Johar launches Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash and Karsh Kale's new music album Infinity - View pics | Box Office India". Archived from the original on 15 July 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  21. ^ "WHALER-Little Whale (Official Music Video) by Anja Matthes".
  22. ^ Little Whale – Whaler. GRΛVITY SOUNDS. 17 February 2019. Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ "Hear Karsh Kale and Komorebi Conjure Digital Dreams on 'Disappear' -". 6 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Karsh Kale and Amaal Mallik are honouring U2 with a unique spin; Deets inside". 6 December 2019.
  25. ^ Karsh Kale – Pride, In the Name of Love; U2, 100 Voices Mix (2019). Karsh Kale – Electric Tabla Archive. 14 June 2021. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ "Karsh Kale – Across the Ocean (Single)". 4 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Across the Ocean (Remixes)". Spotify. 9 April 2021.
  28. ^ "Karsh Kale – Touch 1: Score Indie Reviews". 29 May 2021.
  29. ^ Karsh Kale on his latest album Touch, creating a gem through the pandemic and more. Highonscore. 31 May 2021. Archived from the original on 18 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  30. ^ Karsh Kale | Global Fusion Pioneer speaks about his latest EP, Touch:1 | Radio City Indie Exchange. Radio City Indie. 18 June 2021. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ Karsh Kale – Touch (Official Video). KARSH KALE. 30 June 2021. Archived from the original on 1 August 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ "#HGStreams: Karsh Kale's Powerful Piece of Storytelling on Women's Emancipation".
  33. ^ New documentary shows The Beatles' longstanding love affair with India. 30 June 2021. Retrieved 6 December 2021.{{cite AV media}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ "Karsh Kale – Artist Profile". eventseeker.com. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  35. ^ "Resume". IMDb.com. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  36. ^ "Karsh Kale: Music With Echoes of India, America and Much, Much More". Kqed.org. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  37. ^ Hollywood Bowl. "About the Performer: Karsh Kale". Hollywoodbowl.com. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  38. ^ "Karsh Kale - Coke Studio India". Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2013.

External links[edit]