SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
May 29, 2014

Nexus Live with Oisima, Adam Page and Jay Dabgar

On the night of June 13, three artists will take up their instruments and play an entirely new piece of music made especially for the time and place they are playing it in.

Bringing together electronica’s newest darling Oisima, globally-acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Adam Page and Indian classical musician Jay Dabgar, the Nexus Live Commission deliberately sets out to create a piece of music that reflects the moment it was made.

For every Nexus Live Commission, the artists are hand-picked by Nexus’ music programmer Ross McHenry, who looks for musicians with complementary skills sets that represent what is happening in different parts of the music scene across Australia.

Adam Page has built a career on his versatility, but the pairing of contemp­orary electronic artist Oisima and the traditional tabla (see remarks for a bit more information about tablas) playing of Jay Dabgar is harder to understand. But, speaking about a month before the performance, Adam says that while the crossover between genres might not
be obvious to the layman, there will be plenty of common musical ground.

“It’s kind of like a beautiful conver­sation that is set in stone forever,” he says. “When you collaborate with people you get two brains, or three brains, or however many brains and they have an equal part in it… So it influences each other’s music equally I think.

“Jay’s rhythm will be based around a time signature pattern, and then for Anth (Oisima’s name is Anth Wendt) and I it’s a fairly structured thing where we can have a bit of pulse at certain points. Tabla is very pulse driven which is perfect for our music. That’s one side of it I ­really want to explore.”

“It’s kind of like a beautiful conversation that is set in stone forever.”  – Adam Page

Prior to the evening of June 16, the three musicians will have scores of email conversations and then spend about five days together developing the piece.

Anth says the nature of collaboration means that once they’re all in a room and playing, the force of the music will takeover.

“I think within half an hour of us all sitting down together the themes will have emerged pretty well,” he says.

“The reason I collaborate a lot is because you can have an idea or a vibe on a sound that you’re creating, but it’s always exciting to allow someone to step into that and have their own interpre­tation of it. I think if you pick the right people it can be a beautiful to-and-fro thing. We get each other’s sound, so it’s just an extension of an idea that your mind might not have expanded on.”

All of the artists are excited to work with almost no limitations – something they say rarely happens. For the Nexus Live Commission the artists are given few guidelines beyond the requirement to deliver a work by the performance date.

“One hundred per cent artistic license for the artists is very important because that’s what defines an artist,” says Adam. “If you’ve been given boundaries by the people with the money then straight away you’re compromising.”

Anth adds: “If you’re creating something, even if you’re creating your own record, there’s going to be a certain level of keeping in mind what you need it to do. This freedom of expression is real­ly important.”

As CityMag interviews Adam and Anth they begin to explore the possibilities of this freedom – talking about visual accompaniments to the piece, switching between live and digital instrumentation and whether or not they should fast before taking to the stage.

Even as they enter art generation territory, they are constantly balanced by one overarching concern – the ­audience.

“I find that really important, to think as much about who you’re presenting to as the art itself,” says Adam.


Jay’s main instrument, the tabla, is a traditional Indian drum capable of great dynanism when played skilfully. Fans of The Simpsons may remember it from a scene set at a Springfield Elementary concert where it was played by a young Indian girl.

“This is hopefully going to be appealing to audiences from all of the genres we’re crossing over. The jazz community – I think they’re going to get a lot out of it, the Indian community as well, we’re going to try and incorporate a lot of traditional aspects of Indian music, and of course the beats people as well. There’s three large Adelaide communities that would really enjoy a project like this.

“We’re going to put a lot of passion into this project and I think it will be a nice meeting of minds creatively and it will be great to have a meeting of minds in the audience too.”

Share —