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  • Je’nae Singh & Amira Hassan

JORE is Going to Masala Mixtape...and You Should Too!

It’s absolutely no secret that our South Asian community is growing quickly and rapidly within many digital and physical spaces. This summer, our South Asian community is coming face forward with several social events – Masala Mixtape being one of them. Created by Pankti Doshi, an NYC Event Planner [who previously hosted a successful 700-person Holi event], Masala Mixtape is the first ever, one-day South Asian music festival celebrating South Asia's diverse culture and creativity. The event will showcase 4 headliners, and 20+ artists and have 2 stages highlighting genres like Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Electronic, and Bollywood. JORE was able to chat with Pankti and got an inside scoop of what Masala Mixtape is all about— let’s dive right in!

Thank you for taking some time to chat with us, Pankti. We are super excited to get to know about you and everything there is to know about Masala Mixtape. But before we begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got into event planning in New York City?

Absolutely! – I am very excited to have the opportunity to chat with you. I am a genetic counselor by training and by day but work as an event planner by night. For the last eight to ten years, I have been organizing events for my community, always looking for ways to bring my friends together, and create an inviting space for others to make new friends as well. I moved to NYC two and a half years ago, and first got involved in promoting a wide range of clubs, bars, and venues. That led me to establish my event company [@plannedbypanks] which started by organizing elaborate personalized events for people in our community. I was reflecting on what I cared about the most and it was creating a place for South Asians to come together and celebrate their roots. This led to planning Rang Rave, NYC’s day and night Holi experience. With the success of the event and the overwhelmingly positive feedback, we knew we had to come back with something bigger and better.

Amira [our Editor in Chief] and I saw that you and your partner planned a really successful high-profile Holi event in NYC. This event looked incredible from all the posts we’ve seen on Instagram and TikTok, and those who didn’t attend surely missed out. What was it like planning this event and what was your reaction when so many people came together to celebrate?

Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot to us. When we set out to plan the event, we knew that a modern, highly curated, and well-designed Holi event was lacking in a city like New York. But it was definitely very surprising to see the kind of response we got. We set out to create only one event but had to add a second one to meet the demand and still had a running waitlist since we hit capacity. We recognize that we were very fortunate to find ourselves in that position.

Recently, we have seen a bunch of music festivals being brought back to life since the world is now recovering from the effects of the pandemic. We are super excited to see more festivals popping out this summer, so…what is the ethos of Masala Mixtape, and what sets this experience apart from other music festivals?

Masala Mixtape is a South Asian Music Festival designed to elevate and highlight thriving South Asian talent. It will be a night of vibrant music, premium cultured cuisine, and brands built by our community. It’s really a celebration of South Asia's diverse culture and creativity.

The festival is different in that it puts a spotlight on established as well as up-and-coming South Asian talent—something our community has never seen before. A common misconception people have about South Asian music is that it is only Bollywood music. Our artists are bringing in lots of different flavors of music to the festival and we are intentionally gathering a versatile portfolio to show the breadth of talent in this genre.

Why did you want to create Masala Mixtape…and what about the name?

South Asian talent has been up and on the rise in the past decade. As music fans and event experts, we felt like we were in a position to create a space and support South Asian creatives. We didn’t want to just be observers but actually participate in moving the needle in South Asian representation. Our experience has been incredibly eye-opening as we’ve continued to develop our own identity through this experience.

We wanted the name to reflect the mix of talent and diversity in our culture while throwing back to reminiscent times of owning a mixtape and highlighting the spice and joy music brings to our lives. And obviously, we're committed to alliterations with Rang Rave so this only made sense.

What is the inspiration behind Masala Mixtape and how would you describe the vibe our community should expect? Where do you see the festival experience going? What do you see for the future of music festivals?

Growing up, we saw very limited South Asian representation in the U.S. As Indian Americans who grew up away from our roots, we have learned our culture plays a huge role in our identity. Through Masala Mixtape, we want to embrace our culture and rich traditions and be a role model for the next generation so that it won’t be lost. We hope to continue this festival annually. Get ready for Masala Mixtape 2023!

With your previous Holi event, 700 people joined the festivities. In your honest opinion, what do you believe makes an event successful and how would you measure that success?

A successful event, for us, is one where you not only serve a seamless and exuberant experience for your guests but also deliver something remarkable and unique. We pride ourselves on keeping our community in mind while also creating experiences they wouldn’t traditionally associate with our culture, be it a rave-style Holi party or a rooftop sunset music festival overlooking Manhattan. We had people come up to us after the event sharing the joy and elation they felt at the event and asking for our next one and that to us is a success.

If not setbacks, what were some other types of challenges you faced when producing such a large-scale, high-profile event?

There are certainly minor setbacks and challenges with every event produced at that scale. But if you add the element of colored powder and weather constraints, it increases the complexity by many folds. We definitely learned a lot coming out of that event and that’s probably what gave us the confidence to produce something at the scale of Masala Mixtape. We joke amongst ourselves that we picked that hardest mode of gameplay for our first two large-scale events.

So Amira and I got a sneak peek of the lineup for Masala Mixtape and y'all have some dope artists/DJs like Anik Khan, Kahani, SANJ, Zack Knight, and more. When working with high-profile musicians/artists, how do you keep up with industry trends and news?

We’ve been very fortunate to work with the wide breadth of talent and artists for this festival. We were intentional about bringing in massively popular artists that our guests would recognize but also highlight and showcase the up-and-coming talent within our community. With the lineup, we wanted to reflect the large array of music our community has to offer across genres like R&B, Pop, Bollywood, and Hip-Hop as well as the scale of talent from internationally renowned artists to ones who’ve blown up on social media like TikTok and Instagram. We hope to see our guests enjoy seeing the artists that they love and discover new ones through this experience.

As mentioned, it’s refreshing to see our South Asian American community creating spaces for us to come and enjoy our unique identity. Recognizing the diversification within South Asian American music is a foot forward, away from typical stereotypes that place our music and artistry with ‘Bollywood’. We’ve definitely moved beyond that. It’s safe to say that this event will be filled with like-minded people, all wanting to celebrate their desi-ness.

You heard it from us peeps, you definitely don’t wanna miss this festival! Check out this event and share your highlights on all your socials.

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