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MOTHERJANE – Ethnic Spirits, Global Rock


So where were we the previous time? Chennai was it? What am I to say, except that we’re gonna hang around the South for a bit. This time it is Kochi, Kerala to meet the winners of 2009 Asian Voice Independent Music Awards (AVIMA) for Best Indie Rock Band in Asia and 2010 AVIMA for Best Vocalist and Most Popular Act in Asia. .

Becoming MOTHERJANE

MOTHERJANE they call themselves. And the CAPS are accompanied with reasoning by the way. They have been around for more than a decade playing host to some varied audience around India. Sometime in 1996 was when the band took form and 14 years later, they have a massive fan following who call themselves the Janiacs

MOTHERJANE is currently made up of Suraj Mani (Vocals & Lyricist), Baijju Dharmajan (Lead Guitar), Deepu Sasidharan (Rhythm Guitar), Clyde Rozario (Bass) and John Thomas (Drums). MOTHERJANE encompasses a bit of multiple worlds: They have regional influence in their compositions . They use western instruments to create traditional pieces. They sing in English. What keeps the pieces together is the balance of not getting too carried away with the Indian beats nor making it entirely Rock with regards to the western perception.

Amidst getting their “baby”, the new Studio that is currently being constructed, all for the sole purpose of providing MOTHERJANE to conjure up awesome music for our hearing, Suraj, the voice behind the songs sat down to share some MOTHERJANE tidbits.

What is it that we don’t know about MotherJane but we should?

Well that it is spelt MOTHERJANE as a single word. Many people think it is two words ;) Little piece of trivia for you, we used to use all small letters and now we prefer to use all caps. Does seem a lot bolder.

What has changed since MOTHERJANE was born back in 1996?

The entire industry has become better organized and there is a growing sense of confidence in many of the professionals and semipro’s, that this is a viable career. Greatest thing in a single statement would be, the number of young bands who think it is natural that they should make originals. It wasn’t like that once upon a time.

Biggest challenge as an Indie band in India?

Collating resources. Mainly in terms of creative, technical and other support teams. You see, a successful band has a lot of behind-the-scenes work happening and to inspire other people to commit their time and efforts to a shared dream is pretty much the single most critical point in going to the next level.

Which is harder?  Writing a song, creating the music for it or performing live? Why?

I find writing the songs to be real easy and that’s a personal thing. Maybe because I’m so opinionated ;) It does vary from artist to artist. Creating the music has been a logistical problem for us as I have been in Bangalore since 2001 and the rest of the guys in Kochi. Having said that, we almost come up with a song pretty effortlessly when we are in the same room together. Performing is the part that is seriously effortless.

How different is MOTHERJANE from the rest of the Indie bands in India?

Well we have been very professional in our approach. We have a reputation as a band that will be there on time, do sound-checks etc properly and deliver a killer performance no matter where or who the audience is.

Describe a regular creative session?

No real rules actually. If you are feeling good and have something to express, a song is already on its way. In that state of mind; creativity chooses you, not the other way around.

Which song from your released albums would you recommend for someone who hasn’t heard of the band? Why?

Well… All of them! We have two studio albums Insane Biography and Maktub and two singles called the Tribes of Babel and Jihad. Everything rocks :D

Complete the following statement: People who love (______________) will love our music.

People who love “To honor their roots and question the rules” will identify with MOTHERJANE. Our war cry of “Ethnic Spirits, Global Rock” springs from this philosophy.

I play a couple of instruments at varying levels of hopelessness and I could be tone deaf.  Do you think you could use somebody like me in the band? :D

Is that a serious question? To be honest, we get a lot of similar requests.   It’s almost like, “I am a great person, can I have an affair with your spouse?” ;) (And I lost my chance of quitting school to become a rock star.)

Future Albums? Upcoming gigs?

Our label Aum-I Artistes is opening a new studio on the 15th of September and we are the reason they built such a studio. Hell yes! Songs are written, studio time is a given, new albums are coming. Season has also commenced in India, so the gigs are also kicking off. It’s a good time for us and we have worked for it.

Albums…

A couple of studio albums under the titles of Insane Biography(2002) and Maktub (2009) are one of the many reasons for the growing numbers of Janiacs. A quick note about Maktub: Ya’ll aware of Rolling Stones Magazine yea? MOTHERJANE was featured in 2009 for coming up with The Best Rock Album for that year. That’s Right, Maktub was its name.

Apart from studio albums, they recently ventured into the South Indian Cine Arena as a music director composing the original soundtrack, Jihad, for Anwar, a Malayalam movie. It has been receiving rave reviews and many have cited it to be one of their favorite since its release in August.

I haven’t listened to their debut album entirely, but, I can vouch for Maktub and why it makes sense that Rolling Stones India named it the best album of the previous year. Almost all the tracks are of a favorite of mine, however, I am obliged to mention a few tracks one might wanna look out for. Such as Fields of Sound, Chasing the Sun, Mindstreet, and Broken. Guitar accompaniments are a major highlight for each of these tracks.

Potential Janiacs…

We would suggest you go grab their records from the first record store you come across. Then again, if you are reading this series for the first time and really doubt our music taste or perhaps are already expressing distinct music preferences than the ones we have to share here; you can always head over to www.reverbnation.com/motherjane or http://www.last.fm/music/motherjane or http://www.motherjane.in to get a taste of what MOTHERJANE has to offer.

Assuming you were impressed with their compositions and is now a true blue Janiac, welcome to the club! You may now stalk them at www.facebook.com/motherjane or http://twitter.com/motherjaneindia to keep yourself updated on the latest happenings of MOTHERJANE.

You guys also owe the PR Angel of MOTHERJANE, Eva Dowd, a Thank You for ensuring these sites are duly updated for us Janiacs.

To the readers: Guess it’s time we heard from you since Indie Rhythms began. All you have to do is let us know the Indie Musicians around India that you want featured in this series. They can already be making waves or they need a platform just so they can start creating some ripples or if you, yourself is a budding talent and need an audience; we’re all ears for ya. Mail me: Usha and I will get back to you.

Thank You for tuning in!

Note: Images courtesy of MOTHERJANE.

0 25 September, 2010 Chai Time, Music September 25, 2010

About the author

Born in Singapore and currently pursuing Medicine in China, Usha Amudhan has to her credit Indie Rhythms series in GingerChai. She also dabbles with various other genres of writing. Follow @ushaonthego

View all articles by Usha Amudan

5 comments

  1. Prajnal

    *standing ovation*
    madam, you Rock :P
    actually i have to ask you how u manage to rock. maybe i’ll catch u online someday for that :)

  2. mani

    Ha ha ha -“And I lost my chance of…” really funny Usha. You are becoming better as an interviewer.BTW thats a real nice initiative – to feature even upcoming talents who are yet to have a proper platform. Good. God willing maybe I can recommend some one to mail you. :)

  3. Pramathesh

    @USA

    Good Work. FULLY Enjoyed reading the article. I really like the reply when you suggested to get into their band. :P

    P.S. – I really like the tilt in pictures. :)

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