“In London you can experience any culture imaginable… suddenly you are in a train or a bus, and it’s full of Indian; African; Chinese people – it’s a thing that will never happen in Colombia. So the dreaming picture I had in my mind became a daily thing that I lived. That was the end of the cycle – that straight away made me go back to my roots; it was like ‘Ah right, okay, so this is it’.”
Anthar Kharana is remembering his first experiences of
Having spent the last five years travelling back and forth between his native
“The big difference is that the money situation is very bad. We are in a government that doesn’t really support social development – unfortunately they are mostly focused on the paramilitaries and guerrillas, which means our indigenous people and farmers are the most directly affected people. So if you really want to do something, one of the best things is to be in a country really interested in culture, and really supportive in that way.”
Kharana’s musical traditions are a direct lineage to the indigenous people of
“My father was really keen on preserving the traditions from our town, Ocaña, in north-west
“The name of the place was Yamori, which was one of the caciques (tribe leaders) from the Hacaritamas tribe. They disappeared from the map; they were conquered. But I have learned some very interesting things about our traditions over the years. For example, papayera is actually the leftover from a German military band. They left their instruments there somehow, and people got these instruments and then made up something completely different. You can see that the trumpets have the thing to rest the sheet music on, so the traditional brass has that military style.”
Like many rural Colombians, Anthar and his family were forced to move to
His ambitions brought him to the
“I started Khantara about four to five years ago with a different concept. It was more spiritual, more about finding spiritual connections. But then I started to bring up more traditional elements music-wise, and it became what it is now,” Kharana says.
“What I’m trying to do is to trigger some consciousness. I have come to a point where working for myself has no meaning. I am not working for money, or playing music to give myself publicity. Basically the idea is that I have to say thank you to life for bringing me the opportunity to have met so many interesting people, because that makes the message I’m trying to transfer a little more fluent.”
Anthar Kharana considers Discovering Latin America to be “one of the good branches of focused help” for Latin America’s needy, adding that any possible aid that involves supporting culture – and potentially triggering help for a third party – to be an invaluable support.
“My main project at the moment is creating a foundation to work for the indigenous children and rescue and rebuild the ancient traditions based in art and music in
For Anthar, response is everything. With Khantara as his vehicle, Kharana’s stage persona is shaman, Hari Krishna and indigenous cacique all rolled into one.
“Normally in the concerts I speak a little about supporting indigenous people and where the music comes from. I’m just encouraging the people to go out and fight, to go and find organisations to help – just find your mission and find the way that you can help, because at the moment the world just needs help,” he says.
“At the last few concerts the response has been amazing. What I’m really happy about is that when people come to me or send me emails it’s about how much they felt when I was talking about the problems. Then, they say, the music comes into context; they finally understand the context of what they are hearing.
“It’s very touching to see how people respond to that. So then for me the music really becomes meaningful – because that’s my meaning you know, that’s what I want. I’m really glad that people are getting in deep. The last two concerts we had in Bristol, people were coming to me and saying you know what, I was just feeling so emotional, I was just feeling like I wanted to cry by the end of it all. I knew it wasn’t sadness but it was just like inspiration – it’s really amazing feedback.
Kharana’s mission, both personal and musical, continues to spiral into ever more complex permutations. But with Anthar now engaged in the formation of a philanthropic organisation to support
“I really needed to see, to explore, to play, to learn, to develop – until I reached the point where I could go back and see how people really value our culture.”