Meet Kiran Bhumber. She’s an interdisciplinary media artist, composer, educator, and sound designer based in Vancouver, BC. She has been working in media arts and media production for five years, and she specializes in fusing art and technology to create interactive experiences and unique social spaces for audiences. Her practice focuses on building community, developing workshops for youth and women, and raising awareness of music technology to inspire future generations to create art.

Performing at Current Symposium 2017. Photo by Current Symposium.

Performing at Current Symposium 2017. Photo by Current Symposium

Tell us about your career journey. How did you get involved in your industry?

I began playing piano from a young age and received classical training in music. I wanted to study either music or science at university but felt that something was missing in my life after a year of studying science. I was really interested in electronic music and in pushing the boundaries of sound and sonic experience, so I auditioned for music school. I later enrolled in the music education stream at the University of British Columbia.

My main instrument is clarinet, but I was never interested in playing in an orchestra or being a concert musician. I never fully knew what direction I wanted to take in music until I took music technology classes at UBC and realized just how rich the world of music technology was. After graduating, I continued this exploration. I went to as many shows and met as many people as I could so that I could find out how I could get involved in this industry. It was during this time that I met some of my most important collaborators. As I performed more and more in the experimental art scene, I found that producers started wanting to work with me. I produced part of an interactive outdoor installation for the Vancouver Jazz Festival in 2015 and developed an educational program for youth where I taught music technology classes. I continue to teach and give workshops on literacy in music technology.

Performing at Khar Social in Mumbai 2017. Photo by Conner Singh Vanderbeek

Performing at Khar Social in Mumbai 2017. Photo by Conner Singh Vanderbeek

What is the hardest challenge you have come up against in your personal/professional life? What was your biggest lesson learned?

My biggest lesson has been learning to feel confident enough and realizing that I could change my career path. I have the power to decide what I want to do, and I can make it happen… this has never come easy and is something that I still struggle with… feeling like I am enough. As a WOC and a brown woman in music technology, I have to contend with the fact that there are very few people who look like me. I had to realize that, despite this, I am no less and can still do whatever I want to do.

Teaching at Current Symposium 2017. Photo by Current Symposium

Teaching at Current Symposium 2017. Photo by Current Symposium

What advice would you give young South Asian women wanting to do what you do?

Get yourself out there. If there is someone you admire, hit them up on social media, find their email, or cold call them… you never know how they will respond. I have had so many generous people give me their time just by me reaching out. Find like-minded individuals, meet up with each other, and learn from one another. There is strength in numbers.

Headshot by Ashley Sandhu

Photo by Ashley Sandhu

What do you do to help South Asian women feel empowered?

I always strive to hold workshops for women and for people who wouldn’t normally have access to music technology. I feel it’s important to have open spaces in which people feel welcome to try out something new, especially if they feel like there are cultural or social barriers to their explorations.

Setting up for a performance. Photo by Bob Pritchard

Setting up for a performance. Photo by Bob Pritchard

If you could tell your teenage self something, what would it be?

Everything is going to be okay.

What is your personal motto or mission statement?

Collaborate, learn, and give back. I believe in the strength of collaboration and in learning from one another. I’m a very collaborative person, and I have found that there is potential in learning from everyone in your life, no matter how removed they may be from what you do.

Phulkari, photo by Andrew Howell

Phulkari, photo by Andrew Howell

Besides your work, what are you passionate about?

Cooking, taking care of friends, and cooking for friends.

Where can one find you on your days off?

Hiking or going to concerts and performances.

How do you balance work, life, family?

I had to learn this the hard way, but I believe there’s more to life than work. I developed some health issues in recent years because my body fought back at how hard I was working. Lately, I’ve been putting myself and my health first. Relationships are so important, while opportunities come and go. I don’t think I would have learned this had my health been totally fine.

Contact Kiran

Instagram – @kiranbhumber

Website –

Catch Kiran at the following 5X Fest events:

5X Art Party – June 12

5X Creates – June 16