Sunken Cages Radio Chiguiro Couvre x Chefs

Sunken Cages, the drums scientist

Born in India and based in New York, Ravish Momin is the educator, producer and drummer behind Sunken Cages. After leading the jazz band Tarana for years, Sunken Cages went solo to master the percussions, whether electronic or acoustic, layering and manipulating loops in real time to create new textures. Influenced by Indian folklore, black music and rituals of all kinds, as well as global dance music like Gqom, Baile Funk and Kuduro, the artist stood out in 2021 with a first album on the prestigious On The Corner label; When The Waters Refused Our History is a true meeting point between history, traditional instruments and Hindu ritual songs. In addition to his solid experience as a musician, Sunken Cages regularly feeds his experience with collaborations, for example with the Haitian percussionist Val Jeanty on the Turning Jewel Into Waters project, or with the Ethio-American saxophonist Dragonchild.

In the wake of his recent remix of “My Favorite Stranger” for Depeche Mode, Sunken Cages gathers three remixers around the mystical, hypnotic and percussive “Tofhaa”: MC Yallah’s partner in crime Debmaster, up-and-coming drummer and producer Ankle Motion, and Kenyan avant-garde artist Makossiri. We invite you to listen to her afro-infused, post-industrial remix of “Tofhaa” while reading this interview.

What does “Tofhaa” mean? Is there a story behind this track?

“Tofhaa” means gift in my native language of Urdu. The track came about as an offering to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey when I was first approached by Radio Chiguiro Records to participate in the ACIL compilation. The track is inspired by the street drum ensembles (Tasha ensembles) of my home city of Mumbai, India.

What do you think about the interpretation of the 3 remixers?

I’ve always appreciated remixes that go deep and find new ways to recreate the song in their vibe. So, yes, these remix artists nailed it for sure, lots of surprises, lots of creativity!

You did a remix for Depeche Mode’s “My Favourite Stranger” recently. How did it happen?

The remix for Depeche Mode, while it seems to have come “out of nowhere”, actually had its seeds planted in 2020, when Martin Gore put a track by my band Turning Jewels Into Water on his “best of 2020 Spotify” playlist. When I was approached by their management team in the summer of 2023, they told me that they had a meeting about artists Depeche Mode liked, and Martin remembered my work!

How do you approach the remix exercise for such legends?

It was a very emotional remix for me since I grew up with Depeche Mode. I’ve also never worked on a ‘major label’ project, so it was definitely very intimidating at first. Once I got my confidence level back up, I just started working on it like any other remix. Their management had already told me to “just do my own thing”, so I already had that freedom and blessing from the band!

You are influenced by black music, the “global bass” sounds and the Indian folklore. How do you merge all of them through the drums? 

For me, merging the musical influences is an organic process. I live in Brooklyn, New York, where it seems like the whole world lives in my neighbourhood. I hear music from all over the world daily. I am not a traditionalist- meaning, I am not trying to make any specific style like Kuduro, Gqom, Baile Funk, etc, so I just channel the music through my ideas in a natural way that blends ideas.

It’s been 2.5 years since you released When The Waters Refused Our History. Is there a new album on the way? What can we expect?

Yes, a new album is long overdue for Sunken Cages! The pandemic slowed things down considerably and we are finally getting things ready for a release cycle this year! The album will not be a traditional 1-time release but will involve releasing a few singles, and remixes, appearing on a compilation, over 3-4 months, so it stays longer in people’s memories.

Tell me more about your collaboration with Dragonchild. Who is he, and what are your plans? 

Dragonchild is the solo project of DA Mekonnen – an Ethio-Jazz musician based in the US, who used to lead the funky ‘Debo Band’ for years. They had a fresh blend of Jazz, improvisation and Ethiopian melodies that made them very successful on the global scene for a while. Dragonchild is different, as it blends his other influences from Ambient to Electronic music together. So, when we do “Sunken Cages x Dragonchild” it’s not just a band, but it’s a coming together of two different solo projects that interact in new ways each time.

The Tofhaa Remixes EP will be released on January 26th on Radio Chiguiro Records.