Tag Archives: Shankar Mahadevan

NH7 Weekender Line Up Announced


This year, the “Happiest music festival” will see performances by some of the most exciting artists from India and around the world. The fifth edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender returns this November with a huge lineup of some incredible artists from India and around the world. This year, over 100 artists will play on six different stages at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s four editions – November 1-2 in KolkataNovember 8-9 in BangaloreNovember 21-23 in Pune and November 29-30 in Delhi.

Speaking about this year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender lineup, Only Much Louder’s CEO Vijay Nair says, “Preparing the lineup of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender is one of the most fun creative processes in the run up of the festival. It is also one of the most challenging. Achieving the right balance of exciting international live performers, one-night-only festival sets, acts that people will discover and fall in love with after catching them live at the festival, and unmissable Indian artists is really important to creating the perfect festival experience. And this year, I think we’ve managed to strike that balance really well.”

After a successful pre-sale of tickets that sold out in a matter of hours, regular tickets for the festival will be available on Insider.in on Friday, August 22. Fans can gain access to special Community pricing (a significant discount on regular ticket prices) by signing up to the Bacardi NH7 Weekender Community on NH7.in/Weekender. Community registrations will be open for a limited time only.

The Lineup

From critically-acclaimed international headliners, to homegrown musical heroes, this year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender lineup has something for all sorts of discerning music lovers. Classic Bacardi NH7 Weekender stages like the Bacardi Arena and The Dewarists return, while recent additions like the Red Bull Tour Bus and this year’s home of electronic music, mmx.beat, will also host some incredible live performances.

International Artists

The Vaccines

English indie rockers The Vaccines will play their first ever live shows in India at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival this year. After releasing a critically-acclaimed debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? in 2011 (incidentally, the best-selling debut album in the UK that year), the band’s 2012 follow-up Come of Age charted at #1 on the UK charts upon its release. They’ve toured and performed extensively with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arctic Monkeys and other huge global rock acts.

Fear Factory

American heavy metal superstars Fear Factory will also be Bacardi NH7 Weekender debutants in Pune and Delhi. A band that has inspired countless young Indian metal acts, Fear Factory have had a long, successful career spanning eight studio albums, the most recent being 2012’s The Industrialist, with a new studio release planned for 2014 as well. The band has performed at festivals around the world and for many Indian metal fans, these two gigs have been a long time coming.


Valiant US rockers MUTEMATH return to the Bacardi NH7 Weekender after an unforgettable headlining performance at the Delhi edition of the festival in 2013. This year, the band will play the Kolkata and Bangalore editions of the festival, bringing their irresistible energy and unique brand of alternative rock to these cities for he first time. Beloved by rock fans all over, MUTEMATH have released three studio albums and have performed at festivals around the world.

Sarah Blasko

In her decade-long career Sarah Blasko, a singer-songwriter hailing from Sydney, Australia, has released four acclaimed solo albums (I AwakeAs Day Follows NightWhat The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have and The Overture & The Underscore). Sarah has composed music for film, theatre and dance, and mesmerised audiences with her stunning live shows across most of Europe, North America and Australia. Her most recent album tour for I Awake was her most ambitious, the highlight being two sold out concerts with a 45 piece orchestra at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Sarah is currently writing her fifth solo album and this is her first time performing in India – she will perform at the Kolkata and Bangalore editions of the festival.

Luke Sital-Singh

British singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh emerged on the global music scene when he was announced as part of the BBC’s Sound of 2014 longlist. Inspired by the likes of Damien Rice and Ryan Adams, Sital-Singh released his debut album, The Fire Inside, earlier this month. He will perform at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Songhoy Blues

Garba Touré, Aliou Touré, Oumar Touré and Nathanael Dembélé comprise Songhoy Blues, a rock band from Mali. The band plays, as The Guardian describes it, “raucous guitar anthems dedicated to peace and reconciliation”. Having cut their teeth in Bamako’s club scene, the band recently rounded up a bunch of shows in the UK and will make their first visit to India performing at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Talal Qureshi

Pakistani electronic music producer Talal Qureshi has been creating music since 2007. His unique electronic sensibilities have earned him praise from the likes of BBC Asian Network’s Bobby Friction (himself a performer at the festival in previous years). Qureshi’s debut EP, Equator, was released in 2012 and highlighted his immense talent and unique approach to electronic beat-making.

Cloud Control

Australian indie rockers Cloud Control shot into the global indie music spotlight with their critically-acclaimed 2013 album Dream Cave. They exist in a dreamy, organic soundscape that has earned them much praise and seen them perform alongside the likes of Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and 2010 Bacardi NH7 Weekender alumni The Magic Numbers. Cloud Control will play the Kolkata and Bangalore editions of the festival.

Jon Hopkins

English producer Jon Hopkins started his career playing keyboards for Imogen Heap (who played the 2011 edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender). He has produced or contributed to albums from the likes of Brian Eno and Coldplay, while his own brand of electronic music is an ambient soundscape of organic elements and exquisite compositions. It is this attention to detail in composition that has seen him soundtrack films such as Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones alongside Brian Eno and Leo Abrahams, 2010’s indie hit Monsters, and 2013’s How I Live Now. Hopkins will play at the Bangalore edition of the festival.

Dinosaur Pile-Up

Formed in 2007, Dinosaur Pile-Up are an English alternative rock band who broke out of the thriving Leeds rock scene of the time and instantly drew favourable comparisons to the cream of ’90s US college rock. Founded originally as a solo project by songwriter and frontman Matt Bigland, the lineup is completed by drummer Mike Sheils and bassist Jim Cratchley. Named after Matt saw the scene in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong where a stampede of dinosaurs pile up at the foot of a mountain, “DPU” put out their first official release, The Most Powerful E.P In The Universe, in 2009 and have gone on to record two studio albums, 2010’s Growing Pains and 2013’s Nature Nurture. The band will play the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Sachal Jazz Ensemble

An international jazz music collaboration led by Pakistan’s Sachal Jazz Ensemble will perform at Delhi edition of the festival this year. They have topped charts around the globe as a world-class jazz ensemble, while braving threats and intimidation and breathing new life into the dying cultural traditions of Pakistan. Hand-picked from a lost generation of classical musicians who used to play in Lahore’s once-flourishing ‘Lollywood’ film industry, the Sachal Studios Orchestra has made its name with innovative and irresistible interpretations of well-loved jazz standards. Little wonder they’ve been called Pakistan’s Buena Vista Social Club, and Lahore’s answer to the Blues Brothers.


A savoury blend of New Jersey and New Delhi, US indie pop act Goldspot have plenty of fans in India. Siddharth Khosla’s band has been described by the Los Angeles Times Magazine as “A hint of George Harrison at his transcendental best”. The band’s music has appeared on several popular TV series and films. Their latest album Aerogramme was released in 2013. The band will play the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.


US indie rockers Motopony are a band built on a bedrock of contrasts and the gorgeous alchemy of seemingly conflicted sounds, and the feelings mapped over them. Guided by soulful machines, Daniel Blue along with guitarists Mike Notter and Nate Daley, keyboardist Andrew Butler, and drummer Forrest Mauvais, form a warm efficiency to the hard-soul/glitch-folk contained on the band’s self-titled debut and forthcoming follow-up. The band will perform at Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Indian Artists

Amit Trivedi

Composer Amit Trivedi has long been hailed as the new voice of Indian film music. His critically-acclaimed work in films like Dev.D, Udaan, and Ishaqzaade have earned him a reputation as being one of the most cutting-edge producers in Indian films. His live performances comprise a vast list of collaborators and performers, and Bacardi NH7 Weekender fans in Bangalore and Delhi should expect memorable live sets.


India’s biggest metal exports, Skyharbor shot into the global metal spotlight with their 2012 debut album Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos.Their first ever live performance was at the 2011 edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, and since then they’ve gone on to play at some of the world’s biggest metal stages, including the Download Festival earlier this year. The band will perform at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

The Raghu Dixit Project feat. Nrityarutya

At the Bangalore edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender last year, The Raghu Dixit Project delivered a visual spectacle unlike any the festival had ever seen. The Nrityarutya dance company brought exquisite dance sequences, elaborate props and some truly breathtaking moments to The Raghu Dixit Project’s music, including the band’s latest album Jag Changa. This year, fans in Pune and Delhi will have the chance to experience this audio-visual treat.

Indian Ocean’s Tandanu 

Indian Ocean is synonymous with Indian rock. The band’s latest album Tandanu, their seventh studio release, is a series of collaborations with some of the country’s most inventive musicians. At the Kolkata, Pune and Delhi editions of the festival, the band will perform alongside some of these collaborators including Selvaganesh, Shubha Mudgal, Shankar Mahadevan, Pt Vishwamohan Bhat, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, and Vishal Dadlani.

The Manganiyar Classroom by Roysten Abel

Roysten Abel’s Manganiyar Seduction has been one of the most stunning live performances ever to be staged at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Eight years after The Manganiyar Seduction was first conceived, Roysten Abel is back with The Manganiyar Classroom. Unlike the former, Roysten Abel’s newest production will consist of 40 children of Manganiyar descent. As the name suggests, The Manganiyar Classroom features these talented kids in a classroom setup, complete with a chalkboard. The music illustrates how the right kind of teacher and education is more beneficial than a fixed curriculum. Fans at the Pune edition of the festival will experience this spectacle.

All India Bakchod

All India Bakchod, or AIB (depending on how strict your publication’s editorial guidelines are), are India’s edgiest comedy collective. Comprised of stand-up comics Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya, the group are known for their hilarious sketches on their incredibly popular YouTube channel. At the Pune edition of the festival this year, AIB will play their first ever live musical performance.

Bombay Punk United and The Delhi Alternative

The past couple of decades have seen the emergence of several punk and alternative rock acts in Mumbai and Delhi that have added a new dimension to the Indian rock scene. At the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival respectively, Bombay Punk United and The Delhi Alternative will pay tribute to the heroes and the music of this scene with collaborative performances featuring a host of local punk and alt-rock artists. These special sets have been curated by some of the punk and alt-rock scene’s most recognizable figures, and promise to take fans through a musical journey that spans Indian and international punk and alt-rock influences.

Monica Dogra

Monica Dogra is usually known for her dynamic vocal and visual performance as ‘Shaa’ir’ from electro-pop act Shaa’ir + Func – however, this year in Kolkata, Delhi and Pune, we will see her in a new solo avatar where she reveals to us a more personal and vulnerable side. From a young girl growing up in Baltimore to Shaa’ir + Func to finally launching her solo career and performing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, she’s grown into one of the country’s leading song writers and also one of our most recognizable female voices.

Bhayanak Maut

One of the country’s most exciting metal bands, Bhayanak Maut are veritable legends when it comes to the Indian metal scene. The band has a massive following in all corners of the country, and will release their newest album at this year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender. BM will play all four edition of the festival this year.

Pentagram (Unplugged)

Few bands have symbolised the breakout of the Indian independent music scene as well as Pentagram. Comprised of Vishal Dadlani, Randolph Correia, Shiraz Bhattacharya and Makarand ‘Papal’ Mane, Pentagram’s electro-rock sound has defined a generation on indie music fans. At the four editions of the festival this year though, fans will experience another facet of the band’s live prowess – a stripped-down Unplugged set featuring reworked renditions of many of the band’s popular songs.

Full City-wise Lineups


AlgoRhythm (Mumbai), Ankur & The Ghalat Family (Mumbai), As Animals (France), BREED (India/US), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Blackstratblues (Mumbai), Cloud Control (Australia), Fossils (Kolkata), Gingerfeet (Kolkata), Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Selvaganesh, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, Vishal Dadlani (Delhi), Indus Creed (Mumbai), Maati Baani (Mumbai), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Money For Rope (Australia), Monica Dogra (Mumbai), Mr Woodnote & Lil Rhys (Australia), MUTEMATH (US), Nanok (Mumbai), Peking Duk (Australia), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Sarah Blasko (Australia), Shaa’ir + Func (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Sky Rabbit (Mumbai), Soulmate (Shillong), Su Real (Delhi), Superfuzz (Delhi), The F16’s (Chennai), The Inspector Cluzo (France), Them Clones (Delhi).


Adi & Suhail (Delhi), Amit Trivedi (Mumbai), Ankur & The Ghalat Family (Mumbai), As Animals (France), BREED (India/US), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Blent (Bangalore), Cloud Control (Australia), Delhi Sultanate & Begum X (Delhi), DJ Sa vs DJ Skip (India), Dualist Inquiry Band (India), EZ Riser vs DJ MoCity (India), Jon Hopkins (UK), Klypp (Bangalore), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Money For Rope (Australia), Mr Woodnote & Lil Rhys (Australia), MUTEMATH (US), Pangea (Mumbai), Peepal Tree (Bangalore), Peking Duk (Australia), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Sarah Blasko (Australia), Scribe (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Skrat (Chennai), Soulmate (Shillong), Spud In The Box (Mumbai), The F16’s (Chennai), The Inspector Cluzo (France), The Supersonics (Kolkata), Thermal And A Quarter (Bangalore), Undying Inc (Delhi).


Adi & Suhail (Delhi), All India Bakchod (Mumbai), Alo Wala (Denmark), Amit Trivedi (Mumbai), BREED (India/US), Bhavishyavani (Mumbai), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Big City Harmonics (Live) (Pune), Bombay Punk United, Castles In The Sky (Pune), Coshish (Mumbai), Curtain Blue (Delhi), Dinosaur Pile-Up (UK), Fear Factory (US), Foreign Beggars (UK), Frame/Frame (Live) (Delhi), Goldspot (US), Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Shubha Mudgal, Shankar Mahadevan, Selvaganesh, Vishal Dadlani (Delhi), Luke Sital-Singh (UK), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Monica Dogra (Mumbai), Moniker (Delhi), Motopony (US), Namit Das + Anurag Shankar (Mumbai), Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe (Mumbai), Nicholson (Mumbai), Nikhil D’Souza (Mumbai), OX7GEN (Live) (Mumbai), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Providence (Mumbai), Reggae Rajahs (Delhi), Sandunes (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Skrat (Chennai), Skyharbor (Delhi), Songhoy Blues (Mali), Superfuzz (Delhi), The Bartender (Mumbai), The Down Troddence (Kochi), The F16’s (Chennai), The Manganiyar Classroom by Roysten Abel (India), The Raghu Dixit Project feat. Nrityarutya (Bangalore), The Ska Vengers (Delhi), The Vaccines (UK), Thermal And A Quarter (Bangalore), When Pandas Attack (Delhi), Zygnema (Mumbai).


Alo Wala (Denmark), Amit Trivedi (Mumbai), Barmer Boys (Rajasthan), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Colossal Figures (Delhi), Dinosaur Pile-Up (UK), EZ Riser vs DJ MoCity (India), Fear Factory (US), Frame/Frame (Live) (Delhi), Ganesh Talkies (Kolkata), Goldspot (US), Hoirong (Delhi), Iamrisha (Delhi), Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, Vishal Dadlani (Delhi), Killwish (Delhi), Luke Sital-Singh (UK), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Monica Dogra (Mumbai), Motopony (US), Pangea (Mumbai), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Sachal Jazz Ensemble (Pakistan), Sandunes (Mumbai), Skrat (Chennai), Skyharbor (Delhi), Songhoy Blues (Mali), Soulspace (Live) (Delhi), Talal Qureshi (Pakistan), The Delhi Alternative, The F16’s (Chennai), The Raghu Dixit Project feat. Nrityarutya (Bangalore), The Supersonics (Kolkata), The Vaccines (UK).

For more information about all of the artists performing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2014, visit NH7.in/Weekender.


Day 2 of Storm Festival 2014 at Corporate Leisure City, Bangalore

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Aditya Vishwanathan

Aditya Vishwanathan is a creative photographer from Bangalore. After being actively involved with multiple bands in the music circuit, he now documents gigs in and around town. In his free time, he loves to play with kids while listening to an old Michael Jackson album.


Storm Festival adds another day, another stage and a brand new venue


Storm Festival 2014, that recently announced Shankar Mahadevan as its ambassador, will be held at an even bigger, greener and a more accessible location just at the comfortable outskirts of Bangalore. This year, the camp-out music festival will last for 3 nights and 2 days of festivity and will take place on January 31st, February 1st and February 2nd 2014 at Stormfields, Gonighattapura village, Sarjapura Hobli, Karnataka.

The Storm Festival is the first of its kind that redefined the concept of a ‘destination festival’ with its debut in 2012. This year the festival will feature 5 stages and over 45 artistes from across the world. Apart from being the face of the festival this year, Shankar Mahadevan will play an active role in identifying hidden musical gems from across the country and the world.

The second edition of the Storm Festival introduced a fourth stage for singer-songwriters in ; the third edition in 2014 is introducing a fifth stage – Plug N Play along with the World Music, Electronica, Singer-Songwriter and Camp Jam stages. This edition claims to pave the path for singing talent from across the world with Voice of Storm 2014 – a talent accreditation program by Storm Festival in association with Shankar Mahadevan Academy, and give them a platform to showcase their skills in the presence of the biggest musicians. The winners will perform at Chasing Storm – a series of pre-gigs and at the Storm Festival 2014.

For more details, visit http://stormfestivalindia.com/



Shankar Mahadevan all set to kick up a Storm


In a first-ever association of its kind between an Indian music festival and a top-ranking mainstream musician, Shankar Mahadevan is all set to strengthen his ties with the Storm Festival. Mahadevan headlined the second edition of Storm Festival which was held in Coorg, Karnataka earlier this year.

Mahadevan collaborated with the revered Indian band Indian Ocean to mark the grand finale of Storm Festival in February . Apart from Mahadevan’s name and face the festival will see his participation in identifying hidden musical gems from across the country and the world. Speaking about the association, Shankar Mahadevan says “At first I was pleasantly surprised to learn that India has a festival where music lovers can camp-out amidst tight security, there’s a strong check on drug abuse and everything is organised to the T. The experience is so energising that you want to come back to the festival every year. So, it was only natural that I joined hands with a beautiful festival such as Storm, which is truly a musician’s paradise with great talent from India and across the world. Moreover, Lavin Uthappa (Festival Director, Storm), has been a dear friend for years, so this union becomes even more special.” This year the music fans will be welcomed to a 3 nights and 2 days festival and a brand new venue, which will be unveiled shortly.

Lavin Uthappa, Festival Director, Storm Festival (Managing Director Liquidspace Entertainment Pvt. Ltd) says “The association goes beyond words. We’re honoured that Shankar Mahadevan felt a sense of belonging as a musician when he came to Storm earlier this year. The sense was strong for him to share his time and wisdom with us to make the festival larger and more vivacious in its entirety. It was during Storm earlier this year, when we briefly spoke of together making the festival magnanimous and reach out to every music lover across the world.” He adds, “Storm was conceived with an aim to create a space where we could bring some of the best of mainstream entertainment to beautiful natural environs such as Coorg and other venues to make way for one of the foremost camping and destination festivals of the country.”


The Silent Sea by Advaita


The Indian music scene is at its finest right now. The richness of our own musical heritage, be it Hindustani Classical, Carnatic or Folk, coupled with the immense exposure to music from all over the world has enabled artists in the country to create their own unique sound and feel, leading to some incredible musical acts. No other act in India, however, exemplifies the amalgamation of sights and sounds more than Advaita. This Delhi-based octet, which marked the coming together of a variety of musicians at the top of their game all the way back in 2004, have only grown from strength to strength, scaling peaks that only a few have been privileged to reach.

Their debut album Grounded in Space, which was released in 2009, is an absolute masterpiece, with tracks like ‘Durga’, ‘Ghir Ghir’, ‘Gates of Dawn’ and ‘Rasiya’ – each track showcasing the brilliance of each instrument used, a rare feat considering the number of musicians involved. Quick on the heels of the album’s success were appearances on Coke Studio and MTV Unplugged, where they performed on the same stage as some of Indian music’s biggest names, such as Shankar Mahadevan, Kailash Kher, Sunidhi Chauhan, Mohit Chauhan and Rabbi Shergill to name a few, which transformed the band from a niche Rock act into a house-hold name.

Three years after their ground-breaking debut album, Advaita has returned to the music shelves with The Silent Sea.  The long-awaited album brings back all the wonderful elements that have made Advaita such a loved act – Ujwal Nagar’s masterful Hindustani Vocals, Suhail Yusuf Khan’s serene Sarangi, Chayan Adhikari’s magnificent Western vocals and acoustic guitar, Abhishek Mathur’s powerful Electric guitar, Anindo Bose’s impeccable keyboards and electronics, Gaurav Chintamani’s groovy bass-lines, Mohit Lal’s wonderful percussions and bols and Aman Singh Rathore’s subtle yet perfect drumming. The album art is something which can bowl anyone over – extremely surreal, yet so in tune with the state of mind which is presented by the band.

The first track of the album ‘Dust’ begins with a melancholic but enchanting sarangi intro which is, without a shadow of doubt, a differentiating factor for Advaita’s sound, implying that dark and gloomy times lie ahead in the song, after which Chayan takes over. It beautifully showcases his vocal ability, during which he hits the high and low notes with equal élan. The entire song has an extremely ominous undertone to it, with the lyrics proclaiming “Everything shall pass, everything will turn to dust.” Not to be missed is the sarangi interlude in the middle of the song, which is simply mesmerizing. It is truly a superb start to the album; which only builds up the expectations for the tracks to come.

Gorakh’  was first heard by many during the band’s MTV Unplugged show. The amalgamation of Hindustani and Western is extremely well handled, considering the song alternates between an ominous and distant tone exhibited by Chayan’s Western vocals, coupled with the guitars and a voice of reason and hope by Ujwal’s Hindustani vocals. A special mention goes to the remarkable ‘Hey Maa’ aalap sung by Ujwal in the end – absolutely mesmerizing.

Soulful is the perfect word to describe the next track ‘Meinda Ishq.’ This song is a beautiful ode to love, and we get to listen to Suhail’s familiar and sweet voice as he sings this song as a soulful qawaali reminiscent of a serene Abida Parveen number, while we can listen to Anindo’s and Abhishek’s electronica far away in the distance. With majestic lyrics, such as “Kibla Kaaba, Quran bhi tu”, the song also causes a spiritual awakening which is only enunciated when the sarangi sets in. As you drink in the emotions and gear up to drown in it all, the track beautifully changes tempo, with the Western vocals and the instruments, which end the song with a sense of revitalization.

Mandirva’ is one of the most remarkable songs on the album. It speaks volumes about the plethora of emotions one experiences when in a situation – it is never a single emotion. Joy is always coupled with excitement, grief will give way to rage; it’s just the way emotional catharsis works. It begins immediately with a sargam which builds up beautifully to let Ujwall take over. His voice perfectly showcases the longing and sorrow as he sings of sadness and hope amidst rage beautifully depicted by the guitars, drums, keyboards and the tabla. Such a change in the song’s tempo makes the listener delve deep down into their own soul, and feel the connection. It is absolutely enchanting to listen to the journey Ujwal takes us through in the song – from the pain and hope interspersed with continuously built up anger until the breaking point is reached, and he descends into the madness caused by the wrath with an alaap which showcases the immense vocal marvel that he possesses, with the word ‘Mandirva’ being sampled and looped in the background. ‘Mandirva’ is a sensational composition – one of the album’s best tracks.

Spinning’ is an extremely mellow track, which compliments the intensity of ‘Mandirva’ perfectly. It opens with Ujwal’s vocals as a plea to a loved one, with Chayan giving him perfect company, as the song soothes and embalms. A special mention goes to Suhail’s sarangi, Anindo’s keyboard and the subtle drumming. This song is a major highlight of the album.

The instruments in the song ‘Words’ build up the mood with the Western vocals bringing in a sense of melancholy, and the Hindustani vocals powerfully adding to the mix. The lyrics are beautifully written, and the music is top-notch; however, it’s something that Advaita has done innumerably in the past, and it follows down the same predictable path. A beautifully composed track, but not anything the fans haven’t heard earlier.

Gamapanipa’ is the most fun song of the album. The moment you hear the sarangi play the notes of the song’s title, you know you are going for the ride. Even before the entire band joins in with everything they have, you already have your feet tapping and your head swinging to the music. Ujwal comes in with an alaap, from which Suhail just takes the song to another level, reminiscent of his magical vocals in ‘Durga’, and the Western vocals add to the joy, without losing the quality of the music, which is a remarkable feat.

Mo Funk’ is the reason why Advaita is such a magical musical act. Perhaps, the defining track of the album, along with ‘Mandirva’, this song sets in stone what all of us know as a general idea – the magnificence of Ujwal’s vocal talent, for in this song he exhibits his skills in Carnatic classical for the first time. The song begins with tantric bols and chants with an extremely funky groove, and all of it dies down to bring Ujwal to the fray, who flawlessly sings each of the Carnatic notes, and simply leaves you in awe at his versatility. Chayan comes in with a superbly crooned Rock ballad verse, and the tempo is built for an amalgamation of sounds towards the end. This is a scintillating track.

Tremor’ is again, another mellow track. Chayan’s vocals shine in this one, with the questioning grief in his voice. While the Hindustani vocals come in to give the song wonderful layering, a complaint that some listeners could have is that the song sticks to a template or a formula, which unfortunately, limits the range of the band. But that is still being too harsh on the band.

The title track of the album, ‘The Silent Sea’ s one of the most subdued. Melancholy is the first word which comes to mind when listening to this song. The song begins and ends with the sounds of the sea, with the same restrained vitality which has become a theme in the album, exhibited wonderfully by the vocalists and instrumentalists. The swarm of sorrow may get a little too much for some people by the end, but it’s a bold move by the band to sign off with this song.

This is quite an experimental album. The band themselves claim it to be the result of a higher level of maturity. A myriad of emotions and sounds to enunciate those emotions is what Advaita has played with here, and the result has been marvelous. Although the name of the band implies the state of being ‘non-dual’, some of the tracks from this album have such a dual nature to them; it adds an extreme amount of depth into the soul of the band. On the first hearing, the album may seem a little unusual to those who have gotten used to the band’s sound à la their first album; but on further listening, you are left in awe with what these outstanding musicians have created. This is truly a masterpiece in its own way; because although it will happen, comparisons with Grounded in Space are unfair. They are very different albums, the off-springs of very different thought processes. Kudos to the band for creating a sensational mix of Indian and Western sounds; very rarely can you find both co-existing so beautifully. The Silent Sea is a remarkable album, and will surely be a stepping stone which will take this marvelous music act to even greater heights. A wondrous achievement, and a must have.


Interview with Indus Creed


Indus Creed is back! The trailblazers of the Indian rock movement return in a new, contemporary form. Uday Benegal, Mahesh Tinaikar and Zubin Balaporia, the original frontman, guitar player and keyboard player of the pioneering band, are back with two new members – bass wunderkind Rushad Mistry and  the 24-year-old powerhouse drummer Jai Row Kavi. WTS got talking to the three original members of the band about their comeback and more. Here’s what they had to say…

WTS: From Rock Machine in 1984 to Indus Creed in 1993 to the new Indus Creed now. How has the journey been?

Uday: Zubin talks best about journeys!

Zubin: I just knew Uday was going to pick up the mic and hand it over to me irrespective of which question you ask. He’s a lazy vocalist!

Uday: He has the most significant things to say!

Zubin: Well I think it has been a journey of evolution because we started out like just any other college band, playing college festivals, small gigs – mainly cover material, slowly slipping in a few originals here and there. After we released our first album, we got a lot of mileage out of that especially when you look at all the original stuff we were doing after that. So the good thing is that we’ve been changing, evolving with every album. If you hear the three albums all of them have a distinctive sound. The fourth album will be yet another phase of our evolution, without trying to lose anything that we’ve managed to achieve over the years in terms of our sound.

Uday: Should I quote Mahesh? “I agree!” (laughs). That’s usually what he says. There’s not much to add to that. He’s absolutely right!

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: Tell us about the time when there were no sponsors, no venues and little support. That was when you started and managed to succeed. What kind of initiative did that take? 

Mahesh: Strangely, it’s the other way round. I think now it’s more difficult to find sponsors and stuff. I don’t know for what reason, but those days we used to do big shows in football grounds and it was always sponsored. Today, to get sponsors even for clubs is pretty difficult for some reason. With more of an audience now it should be easier but for some reason it’s not so.

Uday: I think a part of the problem also is that it’s an industry that hasn’t kept pace with its own evolution. For example, the promoters, club owners etc. need to work together. There have been music conferences that have taken place in the country recently and they all seemed to miss this one point – that for any of this to actually go anywhere, everyone needs to coalesce and build the industry locally. That means promoters working with each other, club owners working with each other. Earlier we used to get sponsors because there was a more cohesive effort to actually get out there and get people to come to the gigs. We used to play to an average of 5 to 10,000 people. Today the numbers are small because the venues are smaller. It’s an industry that needs to develop itself far more effectively than it is right now.

WTS: How easy/difficult was it to make it big in the Indian music scene? 

Uday: I don’t think for us there was ever really an ambition to make it big, very honestly. There was no reason why six guys should have got together to make rock music in a country like India at the time, because there was nothing that made any sense from any perspective. There was no support from any side apart from a couple of sound companies maybe in Bombay…I think Bombay was the only place where you got good sound equipment. Wherever we travelled, the sound was pretty bad and we had to travel with all our equipment including our drum kit and our amplifiers which you don’t have to do anymore. For some gigs our bass player’s dog Scooby Doo had to come along because there was no one to take care of him! There’s nothing a little shot of Valium can’t take care of! (laughs) I mean, there was absolutely no idea, not even a glimmer of an idea of making it big. All we wanted to do was go and play this kind of music. After all the mess and the crap that we had to wait through to get up on stage, it was worth it when we finally got up on stage. Because when we got on stage and played that music, it felt really good. So that’s what it was. Everything else that came into place I think just fell into place.

WTS: What was it like in the 80s and the early 90s to carry the flag of Indian Rock to foreign lands? What was experience of playing in Soviet Russia like? 

Zubin: Yeah, that was something pretty amazing. In fact I remember very clearly, on the first day when we landed in Moscow. Mark, our original bass player, he and I were standing outside the hotel. It was a beautiful place, it was really cold and there was a river flowing there. That was in 1988 and we’d been together for 3 years and Mark looked at me and said “Not bad huh we’re actually in Moscow. And three years ago we were playing small 1500 student festivals!” So it was quite a thing, you know. And Russia was a beautiful experience; it was changing at that point. It was just sort of shifting from communism to…

Uday: I think Perestroika was actually just in the process of being initiated.

Zubin: Yeah, so we saw a very nice, quiet part of Russia, a bit of the old and start of the new. So that was fantastic. And we did a tour in the UK which was good exposure. I don’t know how much mileage we got from that but it was good to play to different audiences. And then of course, there was the big US trip that we did to record our third album. I think that was a big, big eye opener. We always knew that it would be difficult but it was very hard, it was a very hard place to survive in. We really didn’t have any money to do anything. I think it opened our eyes to a lot of things including how to be very professional about your work. Because when you’re in an industry where there are 10,000 guys waiting for one job, The guy who’s got the job has to be really sharp and professional because he’s going to be replaced very easily if not. Here in India, because you have a roof over your head, you get a certain sense of comfort and it doesn’t really allow you to push and it makes you lazy for sure. That was the biggest eye opener. The biggest thing for us was to see this attitude, that if you don’t cut it or have what it takes you’re just going to be replaced the next day. It’s a cut-throat business.

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: How has your music changed from what it was then to what it is now? 

Mahesh: I don’t know about the music. The only thing I know and what I’m really happy about is we don’t have to wear those ridiculous stage clothes and accessories that we used to wear! (laughs)

Zubin: The Bombay Store shoot, you only probably saw a few of the pictures! You should have seen some of the other pictures, we weren’t wearing any trousers!

Uday: Well Bombay store and whoever the stylist was in his infinite wisdom figured that it was going to be a waste of shorts. So why bother sending trousers? We actually have some pretty interesting pictures, of us in our suit, jackets and our ties and our combed-back hair and our underwear! (laughs)

WTS: Jai and Rushad are the new members you have on board, what do they bring in to the music now?

Uday: I think Jai and Rushad bring a fantastic new energy. They are both very young, Rushad is 29 and Jai is 24! Both are really good, pretty seasoned musicians, they are young but very seasoned. Rushad sent a few years in Canada playing with a band out there, was building houses, working on construction stuff at the same time. So he’s seen a bit of life and it really makes a difference to a musician or to anyone to have experienced life because it comes through in your art. Jai is a very active player otherwise, he plays with different bands like Tough on Tobacco. And when Mahesh and I started an acoustic band about a year ago called Whirling Kalappas we had recruited Jai for that which is really much softer, much mellower stuff and Jai is known more for the powerhouse material, and he’s a really good drummer. What Jai and Rushad bring on one hand is a fresh new energy; they bring new ideas, a contemporary style of playing which is what we wanted! Together as a rhythm section which is really, really important, they’ve got a chemistry that is absolutely fantastic. They play together very well which is the kind of thing you want in a band, we’re really happy with them!

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: What reasoning drove this decision of having the two of them join your band? 

Mahesh: I have played with Jai before and I had seen Rushad play at a couple of concerts and I just thought they were the best guys around. Because they’re just so good, we didn’t even look anywhere else, honestly! We decided we just want these two guys.

Uday: People have asked us if there were auditions, there were no auditions.

WTS: Jai plays with so many other bands, doesn’t that makes things difficult? 

Uday: It’s not a problem at all. I think it’s a matter of working over schedules, so that it doesn’t come in conflict. So far, we have managed that pretty well. I think Jai and Rushad are pretty happy playing with us and they work around our schedule and we do likewise, I’m not saying that they would prioritize us or they would cancel other gigs! And I think what makes Jai such a good drummer is the fact that he plays with so many different bands and different kinds of music which adds a lot more dimension to his playing and that’s really valuable!

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: Uday, was reviving the band in your mind for quite some time? What took you guys so long? 

Uday: Actually reviving the band was not on my mind for that long primarily because I was living in NY. When Jayesh Gandhi and I moved to NY at the end of 1999, I honestly never thought I would ever come back to India. I left Bombay because I was done with Bombay. There were reasons that brought me back to Bombay which I don’t regret at all. So the conversation really came up when I decided to move back, that was when the thought entered my head. I was hanging out at Mark Selwyn’s place(the original bass player of Indus Creed) I was on a visit to Bombay just hanging out with these guys  when I told them that I was thinking of moving back. And Mahesh made a very off-hand comment saying “Hey man! We should put Indus Creed together again!”

Mahesh: I don’t even remember saying this part! (laughs)

Uday: I think he was half-drunk! (laughs) And then he proceeded to get completely drunk after that so the idea was not approached at all. And then I went back to the US and that was the end of that. And then when I moved back to Bombay again, we didn’t talk about Indus Creed. That was when Mahesh and I put Whirling Kalapas together which was a completely different sound – very mellow, completely acoustic, you know mandolin, violin that kind of stuff. Zubin would sit in on some sessions with us when he was available and so if it was a Bombay gig he would come and play a few tunes with us and it was great fun doing it that way. And we were all caught up stuck in our own individual activities at that time. At some point, we started to discuss it. I mentioned it to Mahesh and he of course had no recollection of having said this, obviously he planted the idea in my head and I said let’s do it if you guys are into it. And a year later our schedules opened up. I had worked on a few tunes that I showed to them and I said “Do you wanna do this now?” and everyone said “Yeah we’re on board, let’s do it!” We spoke to the old members and obviously put the idea before them about rejoining Indus Creed. Well, Jayesh is in the US and his life is pretty well-settled out there, Mark Selwyn has moved into a different career path. The day we stopped playing as Indus Creed he hung up his bass player. He was pretty unequivocal about that decision and he always said that was what he would do. Our original Rock Machine drummer Mark lives in New Zealand. So they all said “We can’t do this anymore, but you guys go ahead!” So yeah, Indus Creed is back for good.

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: Does the mounting pressure and the unreal expectations from people make you nervous? 

Uday: That question goes straight to Mahesh!

Mahesh: Definitely it makes us nervous! The thing is it works both ways, keeping the old fans happy and winning over the new guys who have never seen us or who don’t even know anything about us. It’s pretty difficult but we’re working on it and we’re having a good time. We’re writing new songs, let’s see… we’re keeping fingers crossed, it should all work out.

Uday: The reason I handed it over to Mahesh first because he’s the one who questioned it the most; and very valid questions. One of the apprehensions that he had was “Are we using the name Indus Creed for something that we shouldn’t be doing?” I think he was more concerned about questioning the idea of “Are we capitalizing on something?” and I was very firm about the idea and very convinced that we were not capitalizing on anything but were drawing from something that was very much part of our lives, our history and our DNA. We came to the agreement that yeah this is something we should go ahead and do. We all had our apprehensions. We are very much part of the Indus Creed sound, a very significant part. It’s not like we decided to do this and keep anybody out of the picture. Mark actually said that “If you guys ever want to put Indus creed together, I just want you to know that if you’re wondering if you could use the name, I’m totally cool with it. Just don’t f*** it up!” (laughs)

Zubin: I think the important thing is at the point when we quit, a lot of people said why did you stop etc. I think it was the best decision and the most beautiful part of a very long association of a bunch of guys who became very close friends playing music, because it had reached a stage where the music scene was changing in India. The influence of Bollywood was extremely strong; it was starting at that time. Of course now it’s huge! There was a lot of pressure on us to sing in Hindi which we didn’t want to do. It’s not that we had anything against it but it was just not what we wanted to do.

Uday: That was also the time when there was this really bad Hindi pop movement that came about!

Zubin: Yeah, and there was no reason why we ever wanted to compromise on that. Also we’d grown musically and our musical tastes had changed and we just felt that it was a good time to stop and we’re all good friends, and it was just the perfect thing to do at that point of time. So we stopped, they went to NY, the rest of us carried on doing other things, and every time they came down there was a huge party, we hung out, and we spoke. So it ended in a beautiful way. That, I think is very important because when bands dissolve – there are usually some huge problems and the guys can’t get along and I’m so happy that never happened with us. It left a very beautiful memory in our minds. We did something and we very happy with the way it finally panned out. So there was a bit of hesitance to a certain extent because you don’t really want to destroy that image you had. When you came back with a new band with the same name, you’d better live up to what you had done in the past because otherwise it would really destroy what we had done. Individually, you feel that I don’t want to screw up something that I really treasure. It must now move on in the same plane.

Uday: And evolve into something even better, progress into something more mature.

Zubin: And I’m very happy to see that it has fallen into place very quickly. It hasn’t been difficult to write new material. Benny (Uday) has been doing most of the writing, we’ve been contributing and it has flowed very nicely onto the stage. I think that’s a good sign. The new tunes have gone down well. People come up and say that they really liked them after listening to them the first time. That’s a big plus point.

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: Quoting from a news report – “They might lose some fans with their new sound.” Did you think this was a possibility? 

Zubin: I think that’s always going to happen. You can’t have everybody coming and saying “Oh, we love your old stuff and now we love the new stuff!” That’s highly unlikely.

Mahesh: In fact some people are saying you should call it Rock Machine, they are so attached to it!

Zubin: There are so many people who were so hung up on the Rock Machine name that they didn’t like the Indus Creed name or the material at that time. That’s bound to happen; there are bands we grew up watching who have changed over the years. Sometimes I see those bands and I don’t connect with what they’re doing but it doesn’t mean they are doing something bad or wrong. And there is this whole new generation of fans who have come in and some of the older guys do like the new stuff!

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: What was the response you’ve got from people so far? How have people taken to the new sound of the band? 

Mahesh: A very good response. We have had some good shows/concerts. A lot of people came and appreciated the new songs too. Now we’re going to start recording – that is going to be a big challenge.

Uday: I think the reaction you get from the audience is when you play the song. You play a tune once and for someone to respond at that point… most people find it hard to react to a song the first time they listen to it, I do too. I rarely pass judgment on something I listen to unless I give it a few more listens. So if someone responds positively on the first listen, that’s a very encouraging sign.

WTS: According to your website, you guys called it a day at the peak of your success, because you weren’t happy with the way the music biz in India was heading. You thought it was stifling. Are you of the opinion that it is any better now? 

Uday: I think it’s better in many ways, yes. The biggest leap forward for non-Bollywood music in India has been that it is now expected of bands to play their own music, their own material. Original material now is absolutely the norm. We’ve never liked to boast about anything but one thing that we feel really proud of is that we played a very significant role in overcoming that prejudice and bias, especially with rock music listeners. The reason why we were a cover band to begin with was because that was the scene, you had to play cover tunes, and we didn’t have a choice. As Zubin said, we used to slip in a few originals because it was the only way to get them through. We lied about them. Access to new music wasn’t very easy in those days so it was easy to say that the song we were about to play was by an American rock band, if people reacted favourably to it, we’d say “Ummm… that was ours actually.” And before we knew it people were really asking for those songs whether it was Top of the Rock or Rock n’ Roll Renegade. They were really popular tunes – they were unreleased and people were really asking for them. Now the whole scene is – if a band is going to go on stage and playing, of course they are going to play their own material! So yeah, that’s improved a lot! While the scene has changed in terms of larger venues, I think the scene has become a lot more fertile because there are so many indoor places. It has shrunk the size of the audience in terms of each performance, but it is intimate which I personally like and you have a lot of bands getting out there and playing. It makes everything more fertile, it improves the standard. And like what Zubin said earlier, when you can be replaced you make sure you’re frigging bloody well good. I think that has raised the standard for rock music in India.

WTS: Indus Creed has collaborated with some of India’s most respected classical musicians like Taufiq and Fazal Qureshi, Ustad Sultan Khan and Rakesh Chaurasia. How was it working with them? How did Alms for Shanti happen? 

Uday: Well one of the most significant collaborations we did was when we did a few concerts with a band called Surya. Surya was a band composed of Fazal and Taufiq Qureshi (Zakir’s brothers), Ustad Sultan Khan, Shankar Mahadevan on vocals and a mridangam player called Sridhar Parathasarthy, who’s just an incredible musician. All of these people were absolutely fantastic musicians. Surya had done some collaboration with a Swedish jazz band called Mynta. They called it Mynta-Surya and had put a couple of albums out. Fazal had approached us at that time; we had played with him before – Fazal had done the table parts for Pretty Child. I guess he had really enjoyed the experience and he said “Let’s do collaboration, a live thing, with these two bands.” You know Jazz and Classical, it’s a little easier to put them together because they’re both mellower sounds but bringing a rock band into a room, where there’d be six guys with five other musicians  with completely different schools of music was very challenging. But we just had the most incredible time. And we were rehearsing at the time at Zubin’s wife’s warehouse. Her family owns a factory/warehouse, there was manufacturing activity happening while we were cloistered in this room, what blew me away personally was when Ustad Sultan Khan who’s just this phenomenal maestro walks in there without a fuss. We’ve got a messy, tiny little room in the middle of this factory that’s blasting stuff outside (of course they could never really complain about us being too loud). He just puts a mat down on the floor; he puts the Sarangi and waits to start to play. No complaints, no expecting any special kind of treatment, nothing and we all just started to play. He never complained about the guitar player being too loud and that was just fantastic. I think that was one of the most rewarding experiences, and that put the seed of that idea into my head and Jayesh got charged up with it. And that’s how Alms for Shanti came about later. (Looks at Mahesh) What do you think?

Mahesh: Yeah, I agree! (laughs)

WTS: With your numerous achievements did success ever get to your head? 

Mahesh: Honestly, after we stopped playing, it was only in early 2000 that I realized what an impact we had made. For us it was fun, we were having a good time, we hadn’t really thought about anything. It was only later that people actually started writing to us saying “Oh! We miss you guys, we love this song.” That was when we realized maybe we did something right. I don’t think it really went to our head or anything.

Uday: The relationship in the band was such that no one would ever be given the opportunity to let it go to his head because we’ve always taken the piss out of each other all the time anyway. Maybe in the back of our minds we all individually knew that if anybody would push an ego thing it would be brought down quickly by the other guys. It was a very democratic thing, sometimes maybe too democratic because we fought like maniacs! (laughs) That was the kind of band it was!

WTS: You have added more electronic elements to your music now, tell us more about that. 

Uday: We’ve added some. We’re still very much front and centre, a live band. Everything else that we add on, whether its loops or tonalities or textures that are coming off a track it’s only used as an enhancement or embellishment. It’s only to bolster and to make the sound textually more interesting. For us, the first and most important thing is that we’re a live band.

Zubin: For me personally, it’s a very interesting experiment, because I have always wanted to bring in a slightly electronic element into the sound without changing the whole fact that we are and will always principally be a live band. So long as we don’t alter the nucleus of whatever we have been doing, this is just another thing that is going to add to it. It’s not a dominant factor but is something that is going to contribute. On the second album, for example, we have used a tabla for the first time, we won’t really be called an Indian classical act or a fusion act all of a sudden because of one thing, but it really worked beautifully in the song. So this is another way of making your stuff more interesting, a little more contemporary without trying to shove it down people’s throats.

Uday: It’s kind of like when you go into a studio, you think of production ideas and this is just a production idea that’s coming to you in a live format. It’s just about enhancing the music.

Interview with Indus Creed

WTS: Have you tweaked your old songs to add a new flavor? 

Mahesh: To a certain extent, very limited. We changed them around, some we’ve kept intact just for the old fans who would expect us to play it the way they remember it but some songs we have changed them around because we are bored of playing them, we can’t see ourselves playing the same stuff for so many years.

Uday: It’s funny, for example with a song like Top of the Rock, there were certain phrasings in the song that we wanted to change and Jai who’s the new guy says “Hey no man! Let’s play it the old way” and I said “No Jai! Please, we’ve done this for like frigging 20 years! Don’t play that.” In fact we keep telling him “Do your thing, make it more contemporary.” We have altered a few things but not dramatically, we haven’t added any electronic stuff to it for example. To give you another idea, there’s a song called ‘Fly’ which we actually didn’t play that much. It’s off the Indus Creed (self titled) album which we all really liked, personally its one of my favourite Indus Creed tunes. I’m having an absolutely fantastic time playing that now, I’m really glad we brought it into the set. It’s got a slightly progressive-rock feel and we’ve extended a certain portion at the end of the tune where Jai and Rushad move into a really nice progressive kind of groove, Zubin’s playing some really great keyboard parts over that. It’s actually made the song more contemporary but I think it was a song that was probably ahead of its time sound-wise so it’s fitting really well into this current sound. So that’s the kind of stuff that makes it really fun to do.

WTS: Uday, here’s a quote from you – “We have something like a fungal infection for each other.” What’s that all about? 

Mahesh: What was that? (laughs)

Zubin: Fungal infection!

Uday: (laughs sheepishly) Someone asked me about the relationship of the band. So I said yeah we’re friends but it’s more like a fungal infection, we want to go under each other’s skin and that’s about it, you can’t get rid of it!

WTS: Tell us about your fights with Mahesh and Zubin!

Uday: We all fought like crazy, it wasn’t just the three of us and it was usually about completely silly things, which is why the fights actually ended after the rehearsal was over! We’d be in the rehearsal room and it would be about playing a particular part, and somebody wanted to play a different way and somebody would say. “What the f*** do you know, you f***ing c***, what the hell do you know you f***ing c*** and you know what you played the last time, your guitar wasn’t working you a******? You know how hard I worked on that guitar?” That’s how it went!

Mahesh: I remember once in Cal we were doing a show, we were playing with Gary Lawyer and after a few drinks we started abusing each other and started fighting, not seriously but any outsider would think this is a really serious fight. So he said “Boys, please whatever you do, break up after you do the show tomorrow!” (loud laughter)

Zubin: In fact Mark came up to me and said we must really stop… the word he used was “clipping” – he said we must stop clipping each other so much in public because people are getting a little nervous. Because people who didn’t know us well didn’t realize that this was a part of the usual banter and it seemed like it was a very serious issue. It never was. I can’t think of a single serious fight or anything.

Uday: The fights were stupid little arguments, very often sparked off by Mark, our dear Mark Selwyn who had these… we used to refer to them as the what-are-we-doing-with-this-band moments. Mark would suddenly get all introspective about the band and gather all of us together. Mark was always something like the frontrunner of the band, who’d think of the band, how to push this forward and stuff and he came up with the best ideas of how to move this band forward. But invariably there would be the “Oh God, it’s the what-are-we-doing-with-this-band meeting again!”

Zubin: But I have to say, Mark is what 4-5 years older than the rest of us?… and a lot of the things he did for the band were really, really useful, not just musically but I’m talking of other things like just to get the band ahead basically, where we were and what were we doing with this band (Uday: Heh!) I think he really thought ahead while the rest of us were just playing and having fun. He was the real thinker of the band, the planner, and a lot of the things he came up with made a lot of sense.

Uday: He was the instigator of the best ideas!

WTS: So when will the New Indus Creed come out with another album? 

Mahesh: Early this year we’re looking at March/April, we’re still working on it.

Uday: We’re planning to go to the studio and start recording stuff in January. We want to see how the material fits in and really work on it, make it good.

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Priyanka Shetty

Priyanka Shetty is the founder of What's The Scene? Follow Priyanka on Twitter @priyanka_shetty


Interview with Karsh Kale


Karsh Kale is an Indian American producer, composer and musician, known for melding Indian music with the modern electronic club music of his American upbringing. Kale often creates a unique blend of Indian percussion with techno music and drum & bass. WTS got talking to him about his style of music, collaborations and more…

WTS: You grew up in New York but you showed promise as an Indian percussionist from an early age, how did that happen?

Karsh: Well I was first introduced to Indian music by my father who’s a great lover of Indian classical music and of course old film music. That’s the environment I grew up in. So the tabla and mridangam, the sounds of those things were introduced early on, and then I just naturally caught on. My father was very close friends with a film composer from India, they grew up together. We used to visit him when I was a small child. His name was Bal Barwe, he’s a Marathi guy he lived in Bombay, and he generally composed for Marathi films. He and my father had grown up together, so he brought me to him when I was about three years old and that was really the first time that I’d ever kind of played the tabla and from there I was always interested in it.

WTS: Your father played a major role in your musical development. Could you tell us more about that?

Karsh: Besides the fact that he was always playing music, he was the Vice President of an organization called the Indian Academy of Performing Arts, which was an organization in New York which used to bring Indian musicians. This was back in the time before people were playing in places like Carnegie Hall etc. They would organize concerts in high school auditoriums, so when I was growing up I got to see people like Bhimsen Joshi, Shivkumar Sharma and Hariprasad Chaurasia. So I really got to be backstage, meet the musicians and spend some time with them and things like that. My father’s also a singer and he plays the harmonium. So I grew up accompanying him and we played a lot of Marathi community events in the States. And then of course at home, at least four times a week he would be sitting with this harmonium and have me come and play with him. So a lot of my development came from that as well.

WTS: Tell us a little about your musical background and how your solo work came about.

Karsh: Ever since I was a teenager, I started composing music, and started playing with different sounds because I was the drummer in most of the bands that I was playing in and of course there were all those instruments in my house, so I started learning with them, and we had 4 track recorders and 8 track recorders, so I started composing early. Once I came to New York as a student at NYU, I really started to see how I could take all of these different musical influences that I had from everything: from orchestra music to rock and roll to jazz, and that time electronica was something I was getting really interested in, and how I could take all of that and bring it together into one sound. And also, at the same time the technology helped too, being able to start making music in your own bedroom using computer software and things – that was coming up as well. So all of this happened at the same time and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, being in New York. Being able to be around a lot of different inspiring artistes, who were doing something similar – taking their culture, and incorporating it into a new idea, that was really what inspired me to start developing a sound. From 1993 to the end of that decade was when I really developed a sound for myself and found the places that I wanted be able to go as a composer and as a musician.

WTS: How would you describe your sound?

Karsh: That’s a tough question to answer. I think I’ve always tried for the past 15 years to try and describe the sound but I’ve never really found the right words. But I would say that the way that I describe my sound is creative. Once people hear what it is that I’m doing and the different places that I’m referencing it becomes clearer. Simply put, it’s a mix of Indian classical music, rock and roll and electronic music.

WTS: Do you plan to drift into other genres as a matter of experimentation?

Karsh: I already have. For me, even trance or psy-trance or techno or tech house all of these different sub genres of electronica, I don’t like how they become controlled by purists where it becomes stagnant. It becomes like still water for me and starts to stink if that makes any sense (laughs). Music has to continuously flow and it has to continuously evolve and as soon as you define it as something it stops developing. For me, that’s why I don’t like those terms like tech-house or something like that because that to me is like still water.

WTS: What kind of material do you like to play for your DJ Sets?

Karsh: I play all kinds of different stuff. We just played a show the other night, myself and The Midival Punditz, where we were DJing all kinds of music – everything from electronic ghazals to Jay-Z remixes and Rage Against The Machine to Underworld – we have really run the gamut of all the different kinds of music that we love. When it’s presented that way, people really understand you as an artiste because they really see the different places that you’re coming from. Those are my favourites of the DJ sets but I play everything from trance, to house to dubstep to drum and bass. But when I come back to creating my own music, I try not to fall into the trappings of creating a particular style and borrow different things from different styles to create something new.

WTS: How has the response been from the traditional folk artists that have heard your material?

Karsh: From the get-go, I have gotten a very positive response. On my very first album, I had got a call from Ustad Sultan Khan who happened to be in New York and he said if you’re working on an album I’d like to come down. Besides that, I have mainly been working with local artistes. Once these artistes started getting involved in what I do it was definitely very encouraging. Since then I think that more than listeners and more than people who keep the construct of the institution alive, the musicians and the artistes themselves – theyabsolutely understand where the music is coming from and more so they see where it can go in the future. That’s why we get so much support from people like Zakir bhai and Pandit Ravi Shankar, they have great respect for what is it that we’re trying to do and where is it that we can try and take it.

WTS: You’ve collaborated with a number of artistes including Anoushka Shankar. How has the experience been and how does it help you musically?

Karsh: For me especially, I don’t have an actual formal Guru who I turn to for musical advice, I’ve always listened to my own voice, my own instincts. So when I get to work with people, it’s a learning experience for me as well, I try and absorb a lot from them. Working with Anoushka for instance, we didn’t just go to the studio for a couple of weeks and write. We spent almost 3 years between the time that we started writing the music and between the time we released and started performing the music. Being around her and learning so much of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s repertoire through that and being in the studio with people like Shankar Mahadevan and Vishwa Mohan Bhat – these are people who you learn from when you’re writing with them , and when you’re recording with them. So I’ve had the opportunity to be around such great artistes. I tend to absorb what’s around me. For me, I’m fortunate that I can really absorb a lot from an artiste if I’ll be able to spend time with them. So, what I learn from collaborating with people like them is that I take a little piece of them with me.

WTS: Tell us a little about your musical background and how your solo work came about.

Karsh: Before I work with different artistes, I tend to assess what it is that they are going to bring to the table. Because for me, I can do a lot of different things – I can sit down a guitar, on a piano, on a computer and start programming and I can sit on tabla, harmonium, and start training Indian minds and things like that so it depends on who I’m working with. When I was working with Anoushka I was mainly playing acoustic guitar while she was on sitar. And we were trying to figure out the different places where we can take these traditional lines and bring them into a western context. When I’m working with The Midival Punditz our frame of reference is different. I might be sitting and programming with them and Gaurav might have composed some keyboard parts, so it really depends on who is bringing what and I try to fill in this gap. What we did with ‘Karthik Calling Karthik‘, I was doing more string arranging while these guys were doing a lot more of the electronic programming sounds which all came together to make the soundtrack. So it really depends on the project and who I’m working with.

WTS: Tell us about your association with The Midival Punditz.

Karsh: Well we’ve done a tremendous amount of stuff together (laughs). We met in 1998 in London, and we had both been playing each other’s music in our DJ sets. At that time it was very exciting to meet artistes who were doing something similar because all of us started with the feeling that we were alone, that we were the only ones trailblazing this sound. So when I met the Punditz, we met on a musical level but firstly we got along on a personal level so well that we’ve become family and over the years our families have become family as well. In that way that’s first and foremost what our association had become. But then more than anything, we recognized that we bring so much to each other, because we come from such different places because they tend to come from a DJ culture even though they grew up listening to rock music and are very well versed in Indian music, from film music to Indian classical music. So we get to meet on a lot of different levels. When I can sit with an artiste and reference Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar and Stravinsky at the same time that’s when the associations, for me, tend to continue and that’s what it’s like for me and the Punditz. We can come together on so many different levels.

WTS: Is the audience an important factor to consider while composing?

Karsh: I think it depends. We need to think differently when we are working on a project like a film because first and foremost you’ve to think in terms of the director’s vision. It’s not just your own artistic vision that you’re adding, you have to be in line with the main theme and the main idea of the story and what the vision of the director is in the direction of the film. When I was working on Cinema, I really kind of went in and every time I’d hit a wall and think this is what’s expected of me, I tended to turn the other way and do something else that I felt going to be more challenging. But that’s what I like to do as an individual artiste but if I’m working with somebody else and they say I want to do something for the radio then I know how to think that way. Personally, I would much rather challenge my audience, make them scratch their head a little bit and then come back and realize and discover something new, as opposed to giving them something that they have already heard before.

WTS: For a performance such as yours, what do you aim for in your music? People don’t seem to realize skill in such music, what do you think of that?

Karsh: I think that just comes from people’s ability to be able to see it in different ways, visually being able to see a concert and see what people are doing because otherwise, we don’t necessarily know what we’re hearing when we listen to a piece of music unless you hear live music and see how they interact with electronic musicians and things like that, because this is a new phenomenon as well. What we’re doing now in a live context is taking the aspect of electronica and DJing and bringing together the aspect of interaction between musicians. I think the audience is growing with more and more that they get to see of what it is that we do.

As far as what we want to accomplish, I think it’s more on a level of making people have an experience, letting them lose themselves. For me that’s what music is. Music is an intoxicant that takes you to another world, takes through your own thoughts and animates your life. That’s what we try and do with our music, we try and let people go into their own space and let this music become the score for their own life. As opposed to drawing their attention to my fingers or to somebody’s skill on the sitar, which is impressive when you see a concert, but it tends to take away from the cerebral experience, what we try and do is focus our music more on the mind experience. For me, there’s a fine line between music and sports (laughs).While growing up as a table player, as a drummer, I grew up in that competitive environment but I realized right away that is not where it ends for me, music is much more than that. It goes beyond than somebody’s doing or their dexterity on the instrument, it goes to what is the story that’s being told and how profoundly can you tell that story.

WTS: Where do you think the future of electronica lies?

Karsh: When people say electronica, it’s almost as if it’s something different or separate from live music. I think it’s just another instrument and another dimension that’s been added to music. So when people see music in the future they are going to see musicians who have incorporated technology in whatever they are doing. Think of the tabla, as a traditional instrument the way it sounds today is not the way it sounded even 50 years ago. There’s a lot of technology involved and there’s a lot of audio analysis that has gone into how to present the music on an international platform. We can’t think of electronica as something brand new and challenge that. It’s just a natural progression of something traditional. Because otherwise there’s no way to fill that space with sound and there’s no way to be able to make those instruments so eloquent. All these great artistes have been part of the development of these instruments. And now I use electric tablas on stage, I have modified my tablas so that i can go through the laptop and modify the sounds, and I can control the instrument, but what you’re hearing is something certainly new.

WTS: Tell us about your connection with Bollywood and about your upcoming projects.

Karsh: Bollywood is something we’ve always talked about, not as a style but as an industry that we’d love to break into, that we’d like to use as a platform to expose what we do as artistes. It was once again a natural progression for us to get to that point where the audience is ready to hear what we’ve been developing all these years. If you look at any scene or any exposure for a particular style of music, you’d think that it became popular when it was discovered. But usually when you look into it there are years or decades of development that went in to that before the major or general audience came to know about it. What I feel what we’re bringing to it now is a natural progression because it takes time to develop something before it is time for it to be exposed.

WTS: You’ve expressed a desire to work for Hollywood projects, has anything come up yet?

Karsh: We’re not doing anything right now but we’ve collaborated with a lot of independent artistes in the States, we have worked with Ajay Naidu, who’s a Hollywood actor and has his own independent film that he’s produced directed and we have done the music for that. It’s called Ashes which is now playing in film festivals across the States and of course we have higher hopes to do more. For us it’s not necessarily about Hollywood/Bollywood as much as it’s about a good film. Rahman for that matter – he’d just done a Hollywood film last year and it wasn’t a very good film, but it was Hollywood. I think the differentiation has to be made about a good film because genres put out all kinds of different products. As an audience we have to differentiate between what’s quality and what’s not.

WTS: You’ve said you enjoyed collaborating with Sting the most. What was so different in this collaboration?

Karsh: Well I think for me it was that I got to write the song as opposed to him coming and writing the song with us. When we worked with Norah Jones on the album, we sat together and had written the song together. He’s another hero of mine, he’s somebody I had been listening to since I was 12 years old, studying his music and style, even when he was with The Police and as a solo artiste. Getting to the point, writing a song for him was like a final exam, it was that moment where you have to prove what you know and I had to prove it with a man who for me is one of the best song writers in the world. To be able to write something like that is like writing a novel for Shakespeare!

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Priyanka Shetty

Priyanka Shetty is the founder of What's The Scene? Follow Priyanka on Twitter @priyanka_shetty