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.
What started off as a thought to changing the way a community lives and responds to situations lead to the formation of Shiddat Foundation Charitable Society by Dr. Sameer, a certified ophthalmologist.
Inaugurated on the 24th of October 2011, in Faridabad, Haryana, the foundation acts as a canopy for a myriad of community development activities aimed at the underprivileged.
The up and running facilities of this infant non-governmental organization, includes teaching non-formal education to children who may otherwise not receive any form of education and providing healthcare services in villages, or particular areas where healthcare facilities are not readily available.
The founder of the society, Dr. Sameer believes in providing to the masses the best possible service available. As such his society aims to raise the literacy rate among children who are willing to learn yet have been devoid of opportunities and to promote universal healthcare amongst many other projects that will be introduced in the coming months.
There are also ventures associated with the empowerment of women. These include trainings that impart them with lifelong skills to sustain self-sufficiency. These women, on most occasions, have come to seek the foundation after having been exposed to one or another form of abuse, neglect from their community.
Other projects that the foundation has in line deals with mobile ambulances, spiritual centers and rehabilitation locations, educational institutions and environmental projects that encourages a greener India.
However, as it is still up and coming, Shiddat is seeking out to YOU to take part in its effort, lend a helping hand or perhaps just pass the word around of an NGO that is sincerely attempting to make a difference. Given its less than a year old, donations including resources such as stationaries, books are also welcome to be donated to Shiddat. Even the smallest contribution will go a long way. And if YOU belong to the circle of the big bucks and your company is looking for an NGO to contribute to, you might want to seek out to the underfunded organizations such as Shiddat Foundation.
If you do not belong to all of the above, you have no cash spare but is magnimanious enough to donate your time and service, you are also welcome. What better way to spend an evening with the satisfaction that you someone’s life was changed, thanks to YOU.
For more information on volunteering opportunities and other doubts you may have, please contact: +91 9871 173 400
If you live outside of India and wish to volunteer with Shiddat Foundation, please send your queries to shiddatfoundation [at]gmail.com and for more details visit www.shiddatfoundation.org
You may also mail donations and other resources to:
They are Namma Bengaluru’s beloved folk-rockers whose visually electric, high-energy live act is one musical experience to die for! Yes, it took 3 years for them to release their second album ‘Topiwalleh‘ (blame it on their extensive tours) but it was worth the long wait and you will agree if you listen to the numbers. Our very own musical genie Usha Amudan in conversation with Vasu, Varun, Sanjeev,Pavan and Jishnu of Swarathma.
I have to say there are very few covers that actually stand out. Both your album covers are colorful. It’s like Holi on a single page. Creativity much?
Vasu/Vocals & Guitar: Actually we don’t do covers, we play our own compositions… well…sorry I couldn’t resist that.
We believe that our music is a reflection of what young India today is and our art-form (designs) reflects that. When we have costumes and performance that reflects a vibrant celebration and theatrics, the intention is that our design should also reflect the same to have a cohesive message to put across. Each medium of work should support each other: music-costume-graphic-film-marketing. So there is no way that our designs could be anything but colourful; be it the truck/Indian Kitsch art in the first album or the newspaper as our theme in the second one. Having said that as a designer and as a person I also have a natural inclination towards colourful stuff, you should check out my wardrobe some time (3D goggles available before opening it).
What has changed since the release of “Swarathma”?
Varun/Guitars: There have been a lot of changes both musically and personally. Musically we feel a lot more confident to enter a recording studio or even play gigs. Songwriting has evolved a lot over the years with each of us exploring constantly and expanding our musical boundaries to include a wider spectrum of everything we come across in our daily life. This has brought out a great sonic difference in the band. Besides travelling with the band and spending so much time together has helped us understand each other so much more than what we did a couple of years back. And it is a journey and this will only grow into something bigger with each day passing by.
“Topiwalleh”, how has the response been for the new album?
Varun/Guitars: There have been some really good responses and a couple of not-so-good responses too, due to sharp shift in the sound of the band with a lot of heavy influences being added to the band’s sound. As a matter of fact there are still a lot of reviews that are still coming out as we speak. But from the point of view of people who matter, their response has been very encouraging, and we’re happy about it!
Tell us about the collaborations involved with “Topiwalleh”? How has that aided in the formation of the album.
Sanjeev/Violins: In Topiwalleh, the collaborations happened at multiple stages. During the songwriting, we collaborated with Devanand Varaparasad, a folk artist, during our song writing workshop in Mysore. The idea for the song Koorane was born out of this collaboration.
Once we were ready to record the album, we were helped greatly by Loy Mendonsa, a veteran musician of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy fame. The best part about collaboration with Loy was that he did not try to change our songs, but he gave them that extra edge to take them to the next level. Thanks to Loy we managed to up our production levels compared to the first album.
If you thought the percussion section sounded nice and tight in Topiwalleh, here’s why: Vivek Rajagopalan on mridangam, ghatam and Raju Sardar on the dholak. Both came on board and nailed the parts in no time!
We got second time lucky when we had the rare opportunity to collaborate with the legendary Hindustani Singer Shubha Mudgal for The Dewarists. Little did we know when we wrote and recorded this song in Mysore in less than 4 days that it will one day become part of our second album Topiwalleh. But considering the vibe of the song and the overall reception it received, there was no way we could leave it out!
On the lyrics department, we were helped a great deal by Puneet Sharma, Samir Shisodia and Imran Chowdhury. In fact, the term Topiwalleh for the title track was coined by Imran.
It was a great experience working with each one of them and without their help and support, this album wouldn’t have sounded the way it does.
The growing indie scene is largely popular among the younger Indian audience, incorporating the social factor into the lyrics might actually entice the older population to give your chords a listen. What’s your take on that?
Pavan/Percussions & Vocals: First of all I don’t think the indie scene is largely popular only among the younger Indian audience. From the personal experiences I have realized that audiences from all age groups tend to enjoy the music. Usually the older population is less seen at the venues, may be because of reasons like inability to stand for long periods of time at gigs. The indie scene in India has been there for the past several years, but only now it is gaining popularity. I am sure older people also wanted to make independent music but might not have been accepted positively then. But incorporating the social factor into the lyrics might add an advantage also, both for the young and older audience. Reason being everyone in the society has something to say. And when we as artists bring that out on stage with along with music, it is like representing their concern. So naturally it will be embraced, across age groups.
Swarathma’s music for the indie film, “Greater Elephant”. How does that feel?
Jishnu/Bass & Vocals: To begin with it feels great to be able to support the Elephant! On a more serious note, it feels wonderful to be able to contribute music to an independent film. We know and respect Srinivas Sunderrajan (of Enter Guerilla Films) via his association with metalcore band Scribe. In fact, we’ve even collaborated with Scribe on a couple of occasions. So when he came to us with the idea of the film and wanted to use our music, we were more than happy. If you watch the film you’ll realize that Swarathma’s music does fit in really well with the theme of the film and its sequences. It was also great to hear that the film won the jury prize at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York!
Tell us about “Action Replay”. What brought about the venture and how has the response been thus far?
Vasu/Vocals & Guitar: I’m not sure if the order of these events are right but here it is: We were travelling to Naukuchiatal (home of Shubha Mudgal ji) to stay at Shubhaji’s mother’s house and ‘chill’, that’s when Shubhaji’s mother suggested that we should perform for the locals there and some children from a residential school there. So we did jugaad for a basic sound system which could produce some sound and did a show which was the beginning of our Action Replay shows. As a part of the same tour, we went to Kolkata and played a show for the children (girls) rescued from human trafficking across border and it was an amazing experience to see those children smiling and dancing. This gave us more hope and strength in believing our music and what we can do with it. Basically we felt that such shows are the ones which satisfy us as artists and also do more than just entertain, there is an unknown connection that happens with such audiences who open their hearts and accept you with much love and warmth. So we decided to take this as a serious step and Jishnu with his marketing brains came-up with the name ‘Action Replay’. And from then on we’ve played at leprosy centres, Blind schools, Old-age homes and many such place where people wouldn’t have even thought of watching a live band play, they probably would never get close an opportunity like that in their lives. The response so far has been something that enriches and makes us believe in our music and keep going on. This is why I want to keep singing, because I know that I need to reach out to such people as well, while I also do corporate shows which pay our bills.
Recommend a track from either album for the first time Swarathma listener.
Jishnu/Bass: From the debut album Swarathma – ‘Pyaasi’. From the new album Topiwalleh: ‘Topiwalleh’.
What was the band aiming when it started off years ago?
Sanjeev/Violins: Swarathma started as any other college band back in 2002, trying to make original music and have fun in the process. Of course, the desire to do well was there – but so was the desire to make music that was original and music one can relate to. I think at that time, given where Swarathma was, getting a chance to perform on stage was a big deal. But the band stuck to what they were good at, writing songs and performing them at whatever opportunities came by.
Cut to 2007, the aim is still pretty much the same, only the desire has become much stronger. The lineup changed and with the new people came new ideas, new sounds and new expressions. The ideology remains the same, to make music one can relate to.
What’s next in the pipeline for the band?
Jishnu: I think we need a much needed break after the hard work we put into the writing, recording, post-production, promotion and touring for the album Topiwalleh! I don’t remember working so hard ever before, and everyone in the band played their part. I think it is important to rest, rejuvenate and return with fresh minds for what lies ahead. For the next year or so, we intend to promote Topiwalleh and the songs from it with more concerts, taking our music to more places and people. We would like to put out a live album, pretty soon. That will be our focus. We also want to start writing material for the third album and collaborate and share musical ideas with more artists.
Upcoming projects? Performances?
We’re working on the new anthem for youth TV channel Bindass. That should be interesting. As for performances, it is the end of the season, so you should ask us this 2 months from now.
A note to your fans:
Jishnu: Big love, thanks and respect for listening to us and supporting us for all these years. It would not have been possible without you.
Fill in the blank. People who love _____________will love our music.
Varun – People who would love us for what we are will love our music
Sanjeev – People who love listening to music that touches the soul will love our music
Pavan – People who love simplicity and honesty will love our music.
Vasu – People who love art which is more than just entertainment will love our music.
Jishnu – People who love the courage of conviction will love our music.
Interestingly, a Bollywood flick lead to the discovery of today’s featured artiste. And this film had none of the conventional singing and dancing. Not that it would matter. My finger is ever ready on the fast forward tab. I digress. Anyways, it was worth the effort because here I am about to share my find with you guys.
Shaa’ir (Monica Dogra) and Func (Randolph Correia) is an electro-rock/trance/alternative/ *insert genre here* musicians based in Mumbai. Dogra moved back to the Indian subcontinent from the States, conjoining hands with Correia (one-fourth of Pentagram) to what was to become S+F in 2005. Four years into their collaborated efforts, they won the AVIMA award 2009 for the most Mindboggling-Out-of-this-world-track for “Together again” from Light Tribe.
What inspired Shaa’ir and Func to make music together?
I think we both were most inspired by our immediate synergy. It was as if we had always been meant to play together. We met in the middle of the night at a jam session, and instantly felt in sync. Randolph was on guitar, and I was free-styling. We could have gone on for hours, it was just that magical.
So when I returned to Bombay, after quitting my life in the US, I found him and asked him to play with me. He agreed, and a few months later our first record was born. After our first gig, we knew we had something cosmic. We owed it to the powers at play to keep going.
Major Influences in your music?
We are most inspired by our environments, and the lives that we lead. We’ve been walking unpaved paths from the inception of S+F – and all those rocks and windy ways, teach us lessons. What we learn goes into our music. Randolph and I often speak about how everything in this world can be distilled down and what you have left over is love. That’s what influences our music. Either trying to distill, or the realization that occurs after that distillation.
How has your compositions evolved since 2007?
I think that with age, your skill level increases, your experience widens, your ability to create becomes more fine-tuned. Practice makes perfect. The Love Album was a lifetime of raw experience put to music, Light Tribe was the chaos of touring around the world as a completely Independent band, and then Mantis came from a more reflective mature space of experience.
I can’t really choose a favorite, but I do think that technically, Mantis was our best effort…our best album. It’s hard to count the number of ways we have evolved, but we are the kinds who try to evolve rapidly and with grace – and when we look back on the short number of years we’ve been a band – we see the distance we’ve traveled, and we feel proud….not satisfied…but, proud. This feeling doesn’t make us lose momentum, but rather it makes us hunger to go even further.
New Day: The Love Album and Light Tribe; both were commercially successful. This would have certainly helped with the spread of Mantis. But why free download?
It’s hard to say what makes a record commercially successful. For us, we just want more people to hear our music…to us, that’s “commercial success”.
How important is clinching a record deal?
In my opinion it isn’t important at all. What matters the most these days is how good your music is, and whether or not you have an internet connection.
What was the band working towards in the beginning and how has that changed thus far?
We’ve always worked towards making the best music possible and uniting people through our sound. Be it on a dance floor, or in a room….
We like to think of ourselves as musical bridges across genres, oceans, and hearts.
How different is Shaa’ir + Func from the rest of the Indie Bands in India?
Favorite achievement as a band?
Performing at Glastonbury after Massive Attack on a solar and bicycle powered stage.
Where do you see yourselves say 5 years down the road?
Bigger. Better. Stronger.
Which is harder? Writing a song, creating the music for it or performing live? Why?
It all ebbs and flows. Sometimes the song is the hardest to conquer, sometimes the production is the hardest to figure, sometimes the skill to execute the record into a live format is the hardest. But, there is something about music that has a guiding invisible force…there’s something instinctual that tells you when it’s done, tells you when it’s good, tells you when changes need to be made. It’s kind of like finding God.
Where have you guys performed so far? Favorite Venue
My most favorite recent venue was Cherry Beach Studio, in Toronto. They made a mini-studio inside of the warehouse space, with Elephants and living kama-sutra statues. It was all very campy, but the gig was insane, and the sound was beautiful. I’d go back and do it again.
Future Albums? Upcoming gigs?
We’ll start working on a new record as soon as we’re both done with our travels. Randolph is returning to India with a massive new setup. So our gigs will for sure be next level. We’ll make sure of it.
Which song from your released albums would you recommend for someone who hasn’t heard of the duo?
To be honest, you have to listen to them all….We’re pragmatic….We’re so many things at the same time. Check out “My Roots” off the album Mantis.
If could change one of your songs, which one would it be? What would you change about it?
Wouldn’t change a thing. Silly question.
What is it about Shaa’ir + Func that we don’t know, but we should?
We live to love.
People who love (____) will love our music.
New Day: The Love Album (2006)
The duo debuted with their combined efforts some 5 years ago with New Day: The Love Album. I took an instant liking to the track titles, beginning from “Ambidextrous Love Hands” to “Oops” to simple one word titles like “Hit” and “Swirl’. Maybe it’s me, but the songs took time to grow on me. There were a few tracks I was able to relate to such as “Moonlight” which came with a dash of Jazz and “New Day”. “Government” reminded me so much of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.
Light Tribe (2008)
Light Tribe held a lot more power than their debut album. The entire album tackled themes with regards to Freedom of Expression and Choices made. Tracks were a little light headed compared to the themes they represented, which is a little unconventional I’d say. Tracks like “Her Story” with its amazing lyrics and “Lord Inside” were personal favorites. The band is highly experimental and that’s appreciative. “Embrace” can be addictive. Light Tribe carries one of the best written lyrics amongst the three.
This album was a pleasant surprise. “Not Alone” and “Hyperbole” were my favorites. Coincidentally those were the first two tracks so one ends up giving the entire album a good amount of time listening to. Mantis is a good place to start appreciating S+F. The transition within a single track is a lot subtle in this album as compared to their previous ventures.
To quote Dogra, “Mantis was our best effort…our best album.”
It’s the time of the year I send out postcards. I usually send out a bunch to friends, family, acquaintances made when my flight was delayed over 24 hrs, people who hosted me when I visited their country, people I’ve never met before apart from social networking, you name them, I’ve probably sent them a postcard. It’s my way of saying, “Hey glad we met!”
This time, however, I thought I’d send YOU a postcard.
After all you guys are the reason behind the increased number of readers, new highly enthusiastic authors and LR’s inspiration to constantly change the outlook of the site.
So here’s a Thank You gift to both the authors and the readers.
Private Message me your address on Twitter/Facebook/Email so that I can start writing your cards. If you fear that I may break into your house, yes it’s a valid fear. The chances are slim, but the possibility cannot be entirely eliminated. Hence the risk of divulging your residence is up to you.
Wait… It does not end here…
Once you receive my postcard, you can choose to send one back. One that will depict the place you live in. Say a postcard featuring the city or neighborhood you live in. On it, you will have to write a bit about your place, something you feel is unique to your city:
the festivals in your community
something you witnessed
basically anything as long as you can fit it all into that space in your postcard. (Tricky heh!)
Don’t do any research! Google is no longer your friend!
Write about what your city/village is to you. In the form of a scene, a poem, a song, any medium you feel comfortable in.
Does that sound tedious to you? Will it help if I say chai is on me when I visit your city?
Before you start dreaming about your free drink, let me start on the last part.
Your postcard together with your words will be featured on this space. That’s right! You get your chance to write a post and the rest of us will get to learn about a new friend and his city. And I get to keep a postcard! J
Of course this can be easily done, by you submitting a post directly to GC. But the fun lies in you choosing the apt postcard and spending time to write/draw/get your 3 year old to scribble; in that tiny space a postcard has.
You can always choose not to send me back a postcard.
Just that you would have made me sad.
So sad I might just start singing “Why This Kolaveri Di”?
Can the entire world agree on any one thing on any one specific day?
Will the world be able to put itself together with the rest of the world just to prove a point? Unity.
1 Day. 1 Chance. 1 World.
Identified as the “biggest creative project of our human history”, the 11Eleven Project aims to bring people from all over the wall onto one massive platform.
Lifted directly from 11elevenproject.com,
“people from 196 different countries, brought together by over 200 languages, will be asked to capture a day in the life of their world”.
Talk about uniting the people of the world. There we have it.
The highlight of this interesting project is that, the material showcased by all these varied individuals will be put together and used for various mediums, including a 2 hr documentary, photography collection and other 11 Eleven Project initiatives.
Thus you can be sure your participation will be a definite ingredient in the making of several ambitious projects around the world.
The team based in Sydney, Australia came up with this project in the effort with a very clear objective,
“…to plant a seed of compassion, to allow all people to gain a perspective of our world as a whole.”
The 11 Eleven project is, in their words,
“…a time capsule, a human shot of life in the 21st Century – a unique global perspective told by the people, for the people”.
To learn more about this this global project, (which I THINK IS AMAZING) I managed to get into contact with Danielle Lauren, the Creative Head of 11Eleven Project, from Sydney, Australia. She conceived the idea, some 10 years back and now it’s spreading across the globe bringing people from all corners with a shared vision.
A little about Danielle: Coming from media background having produced several projects for a multitude of Australian broadcasters, she is also an active participant in the not-for-profit sectors. She has raised funds for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, New South Whales Rape Crisis Centre, AIDS council… to name a few. At the end of the day,
“Danielle Lauren wants to use her skills and passion to contribute to the advancement of a positive global change and a better future for all.” (11elevenproject.com)
And we learn how….
Tell us about 11 Eleven Project. The inspiration behind it. How did the idea subsequently develop?
The 11Eleven Project was born in cinema in West Australia in 2000, when I was sitting with a friend of mine and we were watching two films back to back Kowanasquatsi and Powanasquatsi…. They’re very meditative films and quite provocative…. Similar to Baraka you’re confronted with some harsh imagery and a soundtrack that allows your mind to get lost.
Whilst sitting in the dark, I started thinking about life on earth, and what was happening around the world at the same time I was in the cinema – and if we were all living very separate or connected lives… With my mind buzzing, I escaped the cinema, went to the foyer, grabbed a piece of scrap paper and started writing this memorandum basically entitled “A day in the life of the world” a look at life on Earth told by the people of earth….
Of course the technology didn’t exist at the time so it’s taken 11 years to come to life and now that’s its here I feel very grateful to be watching a vision become a reality.
The team behind the scenes. How did you guys come together to share a similar vision?
I am the luckiest person in the world, because I work with the most extraordinary team of people. Everyone who works on the project is doing so as a volunteer and so you have a group of people driven by passion – which is a very powerful force.
Different people came to the 11Eleven Project in different ways – some found us on websites like theloop.com.au, others on Facebook, blogs or even by reading about us through our Partners Global Voices… I guess the right people come to you and find you in whichever way they’re meant to. I’m a bit fatalistic because I believe everything happens as it should and I honestly I have been blessed, you could not ask for better people to work with.
The objective behind the project?
The 11Eleven Project aims to achieve so much but if I were to summarize it would be:
1. Empower individuals to recognize their stories and perspectives.
2. To prove that we all play a role in creating the world we live in.
3. To explore what unites and divides us as human beings.
4. Discover what life is like on planet earth.
5. To raise money and awareness for our charity partners.
What do you guys aim to achieve with this project?
Compassion is difficult to measure….Ideally I would like to say that after people participate and view the works created by the 11Eleven Project that we will all understand one another a bit better – that’s what I’m hoping for… the only thing is how do you measure something so complex?
I really just want to break down the boundaries which seem to separate us all…. As time goes by, I feel the divide between us is getting greater – we don’t acknowledge our fellow human beings and somehow we’re becoming more fearful of one another. We speak about environmental sustainability, but what about social environmental sustainability – that’s what I’m interested in contributing to.
What I love about the 11Eleven Project is not only are we documenting what’s going on 11/11/11 we’re also offering practical financial support to organizations that are dedicated to creating a better world for all people.
Our charity partners are the World Wildlife Fund, the Hunger Project, Hamlin Fistula, Save the Children, Opportunity International and Global Voices. They all contribute in the most magnificent way to making the world better for all people.
How can people contribute?
It’s so simple on the 11th November from midnight to midnight – you have 24 hours to capture your life or the lives of those around you by recording using film, photography, music, sound and text. If you’re not sure what to record, we’ve given you guidelines – 11 Topics to inspire you. They are love, faith, routine, water, heartbreak, beauty, darkness, play, make a wish courage and beauty.
These are completely open to interpretation….and should spark new ideas not hinder you. After 11/11/11 you have 3 steps you need to complete so that we can get your material.
Firstly upload it to any media website – Flickr, Youtube, Soundcloud, Vimeo, Youku .
Secondly tag it – 11ElevenLive. It’s really important to tag your work properly.
Last step – go to 11elevenproject.com and click on submit – fill in the submission form and voila, you’re part of the 11Eleven Project.
How can we help to spread the word? Tell us more about being an ambassador.
This project doesn’t belong to me or the team – it belongs to you and the world. YOU are the ones that will make this a success – we can try our best to tell as many people as possible about it, but really it’s YOU who can communicate to your community better than us…. So we’ve made an Ambassador project, which encourages people on the ground in different countries to be our spokesperson.
You don’t have to be a professional you just need to be someone with drive, ambition and passion – that’s what we look for…. If you want your community to get involved, we strongly recommend you become an ambassador as you can be the person who will ensure the stories from your region get told.
If you’d like to take on such a role, send your interest, skills and reasons for wanting to be an Ambassador to me – my email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anything I might have missed and you’re dying to share?
Follow us onFaceBook, Twitterand read our latest blogs. Also remember our hashtag for the day is #11ElevenLIVE so if you’re going to Tweet make sure you use that….
Lastly, I think the fact that you’re using your skills as a storyteller is a very powerful thing. Never forget how an image, sound, film, music or words can change the world. I know how powerful you are and I sincerely admire and respect you decision to use your time and energy to contribute to our 11Eleven Project. From the bottom of my heart – a sincere thank you!
So do you have a perspective to share?
Cos all you have to do is click REC on 11.11.11on your available device to capture your vision and be part of the 11 Eleven Project.
I have never listened to any of the radio stations in India. Actually I don’t listen to radio stations at all. So I have to admit when I posed questions to this particular Dabba Radio wallahs I was being the ignorant Asian.
I didn’t realize how different these guys were set out to be. My apologies.
The more I read that information was restricted over the airwaves, I was further surprised. In comparison to where I am coming from, I am pretty sure democracy is present here. Albeit boasting to be the largest democracy in the world, India does seem to have a problem with transparency. Ah-uh! Least over the air waves.
“Knowledge is a precious commodity, we believe it should be free.”
That was from Dabba Radio’s mission statement. And they have stayed true to that by disseminating information that is reliable and is definitely available to the masses.
I was fascinated and definitely impressed with Dabba Radio’s ind(i)ependent movement I figured I can’t just keep this news to myself, can I? Hence, I got into contact with the Director of Outreach and Development of Dabba Radio, Nonie Tuxen; to tell us How, Why, When, What created this much needed venture.
How did it all begin?
The creation of Tiffin Talk built the base to a bigger, more elaborate idea. It began as an engagement with the community of Mumbai, however it soon became apparent that Tiffin Talk alone would not fill the void of well-informed radio in India.
Consequently, Dabba Radio came along about a year after Tiffin Talk’s first episode. Dabba Radio is the umbrella organization dedicated to the creation of alternate radio content on an array of topics; including news, current events, politics, foreign affairs, art, technology, culture, theatre, music…the list goes on and on.
Why ‘Dabba Radio’?
Mumbai’s dabbawallas are internationally renowned for their innovative and extraordinarily reliable lunch delivery service. Everyday the dabbawallas deliver over 200,000 lunches without making a single mistake. The majority of dabbawallas are illiterate, so a unique combination of colours and numbers are used to mark the destination of the lunchbox, or ‘tiffin’, as it is transported across Mumbai on bicycles, carts, and local trains. Dabbawallas carrying enormous tiffin flats on their heads is a regular sight on Mumbai’s train platforms.
According to The Economist, dabbawallas make 1 mistake for every 6,000,000 deliveries, giving them a Six Sigma rating which makes them more reliable than all modern courier services – all without formal education or modern technology.
The dabbawallas are renowned for not being deterred by weather, including the notorious Mumbai heat and monsoons.
We feel that the dabbawallas summed up several key characteristics that we want our radio network to stand for. We too are in the delivery business – we deliver free reliable radio to India using unique methods.
It was interesting reading the about us page where there was a line that said “…wanted to facilitate the creation of content by Indians for an Indian audience about things Indians care about.” And you’re not even Indian. How did everything fall in place then?
Good people is the answer. The pilot phase was designed to test whether the quoted phrase was possible to the standard we had in mind. Fortunately, we have unearthed some really under-utilized talent in radio here that can help us achieve this goal.
How different is it from the regular FM stations around India?
We are vastly different from FM stations in a number of ways. First and foremost, we are not a FM station – our content is available online. We are essentially unable to broadcast our content on conventional radio due to government restrictions on the broadcast of news and current events on private radio in India.
AIR is the only network with permission to broadcast news and current events; other FM stations are largely restricted to playing Bollywood music – you only have to turn on the radio to realize this.
Consequently, the content we produce is unique as we do not face licensing regulations and restrictions because we broadcast online. FM stations in India generally do not produce topical shows, whereas we create interesting and well-informed shows on multiple subjects ranging from sports (other than cricket), to business, to independent Indian music. To our knowledge, we are the only organization in India currently producing this sort of content.
What does Dabba Radio strive to achieve amongst its audience?
Dabba Radio engages its audience by delivering fresh and in-depth coverage on topics relevant to the 21st century Indian. We aim to inform our audience – we want people to listen to Dabba Radio and learn something that they didn’t otherwise know or hear something new, like a great band or the opinions of teenagers on the education system.
About the team. The team is working full time with the station?
There are currently two full-time employees: Thane Richard, Founder and Executive Director, and Nonie Tuxen, Director of Outreach and Development. However, we couldn’t run Dabba Radio without our amazing hosts, producers and volunteers. For more information on the team, check out the ‘Our Team’ on our website.
Does Dabba Radio only run at a specific time interval or full time?
In terms of streaming, our goal is launch a streaming schedule of 3 hours per day, 5 days a week by the end of our first year. Currently, our goal is produce quality rather than quantity. We feel the pilot phase has achieved this so we are now beginning to gear ourselves towards producing shows at a greater frequency as well as piloting new shows to fill out the proposed streaming schedule.
Tell us about the shows that are already running?
The Underground Sound: There is so much more music being created in India besides what SRK and Katrina Kaif are dancing to on the silver screen. We seek out the best new and aspiring musicians and introduce you to them. Hosted by Sucharita Tyagi, the Underground Sound features interviews, short documentaries, recording sessions, jam sessions, and of course, music. [I listened to their first show featuring Advaita, it was pretty good!]
Time Out India consulting editor, Naresh Fernandes, hosts a sub-section of the show called The Underground Vault. The Vault takes us on a historical journey through Mumbai’s musical past, showcasing fascinating tracks from the depths of Naresh’s extensive record collection.
Shot, Yaar!: Glancing at current media, you might think that there is nothing to sport but cricket, but there are other sports in India besides cricket. This show is breath of fresh air, covering new sports developments in India and abroad, as well as informative discussion on interesting sports stories and history. Pankaj Athwale brings us Shot Yaar!
The Sound of Money: Every fortnight, banking professional Santosh Sirur brings informed analysis of the latest business news as well as interesting commentary on international business, finance, careers, consumer protection, and business history. Includes a section on the definition of a business/finance term and a question of the week from listeners.
Bridging The Gap: Dabba Radio has partnered with Jalebi Ink to create India’s first independent youth radio forum. The show will be written and hosted by local youth. Guests will be brought on the show and interviewed by students on a topic that they specialize in. Currently we are publishing monologues recorded by students about topics that are important to them. Any interested school student is encouraged to get involved. No experience is required – we will teach you what you need to know to sound great on radio. Email youth[at]dabbaradio[dot]org for more information.
Tiffin Talk: TiffinTalk is a weekly show with the simple goal of delivering relevant discussion. Host Arthor Danchest chats with informed individuals get a more in-depth understanding of newsworthy issues. Content can range from business and politics to adventure cyclists and paleontologists. Tiffin Talk has, however, taken a short break whilst Dabba Radio focused its attention on developing new shows during the pilot phase.
There is a show catering to every single age group from the teens to retired men. Was it a conscious action?
In the process of creating content that is interesting to the 21st Century Indian we inherently covered a broad spectrum of listener groups. So in a sense it was conscious because we want to ensure that we provide content that is interesting to a vast array of people.
Many, but they’re still on the drawing board so they’re top secret for now. [Sigh!]
How do you guys finance the station?
We are currently seeking funding for our first year of operations. Until now we have been running on an extremely low budget: we are nearing the end of our 4 month pilot phase in which we sought to prove the Dabba Radio concept by creating quality content and finding highly competent people to help produce this content.
We are thrilled with the achievements we have made during the pilot phase and deem the pilot to be an overall success.
How can people contribute? Donations? To be part of the project/team?
We are currently seeking investment to cover our first phase of operations. With our pilot phase complete, we are ready to move into full time production and we need your help. If you are interested in investing in or donating to Dabba Radio, send an email to: info[at]dabbaradio[dot]org.
In terms of becoming part of the team, we have many opportunities for both individuals and organisations. Please check ourwebsite for more information:
Last few words you want to share with Dabba Listeners?
Spread the word!
Like us onfacebook, check out our website and feel free to tell us what you think of the shows – we are always looking to improve our concepts and delivery as we are still learning and adapting.
I am excited to share all about her with you guys. For starters, she is the first female musician to be featured on this site. Is that awesome or what?! I mean seriously! As I approach musicians to share about their music with us, it just ends up being either a solo male artist or an all dudes band. I’m pretty sure there are loads of female artists across the South Asian Continent. But I just haven’t come into contact with one…till now.
She is a potential mixture of Neko Case + Kaki King + Lisa Hannigan. I think) one might be able to draw parallels with these singers when it comes to G’s music.
Anyways let’s cut to the chase….
She has been around for a while now making music in and sometimes out of Bangalore. G has yet to release an album under her name, however many of her songs have been making rounds via social networking websites and Soundcloud.
I manage to source her out just so that we get to learn more about this upcoming Indie artist and of course be introduced to her groovy music.
Gowri Jayakumar is the Maggie haired musician who…
has woes and indigestion aplenty, and an audience that will indulge only if whinged musically.
Did you grow up wanting to make music?
Making music sort of happens on its own, when you have the company of a guitar, or any other musical instrument I suppose. It did for me. There was no musical dream before I picked up the guitar, but since, we’ve just been growing together it seems.
Do you do this full time?
It’s time I did! But no, it’s a weekend affair as of now. I work 5 days, and sleep most the other two. And in between, I play.
Tell us about the instrument/(s) you play?
I play the guitar, and recently picked up the harmonica. I use both at shows, but am rusty at the harmonica, but it still sounds good to me. Just getting the hang of it.
Your music influences?
I’m not sure how I can answer this. But I could tell you what I love. I love storytellers mostly. And among those, Tom Waits, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Madeleine Peyroux, The Be Good Tanyas are some of my favourites. I love Kaki King, I just love her. Ideal sound - I love heavy basslines, jazzy chords, buttery vocals and so on. And I love Chemical brothers, Radiohead, Jamiroquai, Spin Doctors, and these guys as well.
Depends on the mood I suppose. These, with the many small n big experiences influence me…maybe.
What genre do you consider your music to be?
Ah well, nothing exclusive. I sing my songs; play the guitar, sometimes the harmonica. I don’t know. Call me an acoustic singer-songwriter, folk, country, acoustic rock. I’m not even sure these things apply anymore. There is hardly any relevance to genres anymore.
What kinda themes do your lyrics tackle?
Hmm…well…a lot of guilt. Temptation, love, fear of dying (a close friend died, and it’s been a haunting theme since), travelling, growing old, alone and ugly…and stuff like that. Nothing pleasant.
One of your songs were along the lines of “cruella tucked me into bed..”? Is it the same Cruella I think it is?
Heh. It’s “Oh cruel luck, she tucked me away, and promised laughter at the break of day, she taught me songs of survival and fun, and when I see trouble, she told me to run”
I guess Cruella works too. <Oops..my ears played a trick on me>
This song is part of my Guilt series. Wrote this one and “see the pussy run” after I did something that made me feel queasy, and was on this trip of justification, defense and all that. But failed. So I just wanted to palm off the blame, and be cool.
Tell us about the album in the making.
There was this Resonate Music Award that I won in 2009. That afforded me studio time n all, and I went on to record my songs at Chris Avinash’s studio in Bangalore. So, I recorded about 8 songs, and got Rzhude David, the former bass player of Thermal and A Quarter to play bass in some songs, Chris to play guitar, and Muthu Kumar to play percussions.
The songs are somewhat jazzed up and has a band sound. So, right now, I already put up two songs on Soundcloud. I mean to spread it around through gigs and all, and just do it like that.
What should we be looking forward to in the album?
Oh well….my songs sung in a studio I suppose. The album is a completely different side and sound of me. For those who have heard me before, all solo and live, I’d just say it grew on me, it would on you too. The real music is in live performance I feel. So just get to the live gigs, and an album could be a sweet takeaway.
How can we gain access to your music?
Keep looking out in soundcloud right now, plan to populate it with more songs…some from a recent gig at CounterCulture in Bangalore.
There’s my facebook page, which I CONSTANTLY update, then my myspace page, and then my youtube page. Haha. So I’m there on the internet through and through. But Soundcloud’s the best bet. And Gigs of course, that’s the best and nicest way to get hold of my music…if you want.
Yeah, well, there’s this Tribute to Women by Rolling Stones in Bangalore on the June 24th.
If you could tour with a local band, who would that be and why?
A local band…I would say Peter Cat and Recording Co, a band from Delhi. They were all so delightful. But I may not necessarily fit in, but it’s a fun band…looks like. For my own music, I’d just want a nice, laidback, lazy prodigal double bass player, and a kickass percussionist. Am set on the guitar, feel shifty givin up that spot.
Right now, I just want a versatile, mind-blowing set-list, and gigs all over the country. And then, gigs all over the world. I just want to keep travelling, and making music. I’d hope to meet a million cool people as I go, and strike a jackpot somewhere somehow. But to keep moving and playing songs, would pretty much be it. I’d very much like that.
A birdie told me an album might be in the making. However, it hasn’t been entirely sure if the album is still in the making or Gowri might just release the tracks on Soundcloud instead. Nevertheless, it’s good to be optimistic.
A few of her other tracks are available on Soundcloud but still, I am nice so will share them here as well. But you HAVE to visit her site, for she updates them regularly with newer tracks.
“Bangalore’d” is an acoustic pieced, somewhat along the veins of Kaki King’s “Doing The Wrong Thing”. Worth the listen!
“Tea” is a another track to look out for. Most of her tracks or should I say almost all of them tells a story each. A different theme is tackled in each. The variance provides for a fresh beginning with each number.
“Hello” is up for free download. Good music and you barely lifted your wallet! How cool is that?! This is one track that is a tad more jazzy compared to the rest. My favorite too; apart from the Guilt Series “Cruel Luck” track, which by the way is awe- to-the-some.
The tracks to really look out for would be “Hello”, “Tea” and a few others that I had the privilege to listen to but isn’t officially out yet. So, you just gotta trust me and take my word for her music, will you?
Last bit of news before I leave you to sway to her beat, Gowri J. will be performing at Kyra, Bangalore for Taj Divanta’s Divas of Rock, together with Sulk Station and the Petri Dish Project. Event begins at 9:00pm. More details can be found here.
Here’s a chance to go catch the dudette strumming away live. If you will be hanging around Bangalore in a fortnight, DON”T MISS IT!
Author’s Note: If you have been diagnosed with the following, it’s recommended you contact me and I will get back to you with the remedy!
• You have a favorite musician that you want featured in Indie Rhythms
• You know a budding artist and he needs a platform to spread the word
• You came across an album that swept you off your feet or made you crash into a wall even
• You witnessed this amazing live performance and you wanna share the experience with us (OK for this one you cannot directly contact me.)
Now all of the above would gladly put a smile on my face and perhaps a gift in your mailbox.
Thank You for Tuning in!
While we definitely recognize and acknowledge the talents within our country, music has no boundaries does it? We have proven that language is no limit; for the number of bands featured have sung in a range of languages. However, I am obliged to prove my initial statement where it knows no nationality either. Hence, we will feature guest bands that are based outside the Indian border. Fun I know!
So, what’s better than having our first guest band from our neighboring state? This month, we feature Fuzon from Karachi, Pakistan.
The Musicians behind the Music
Shallum Xavier and Imran or Emu were the founders of Fuzon back in 2001. Followed by the addition of Shafqat Amanat Ali, who was the lead vocalist for almost all the tracks in Fuzon’s first album; Saagar back in 2002. More on that later…
Shallum is practically married to his guitar. Besides performing with Fuzon, he also has his solo act coming up – A collaborative effort with a range of musicians across the globe. Emu, from what I gathered is a “multi-dimensional” pianist. That’s fancy already.
Fast forward a few years, Fuzon has a new man behind the mike who goes by the name, Rameez Mukhtar, a well known name in the Pakistani music scene.
Theyhave been around for ten years and have made quite a name for themselves both within the nation and abroad. They started performing internationally about 7 years ago and with the number of fan following they have; these performances are bound to continue for long.
Tell us about the band?
Fuzon is a trio and has been playing and recording for the last ten years based out of Karachi, Pakistan. Emu is the keyboard player, composer and producer. Shallum Xavier is the guitarist, composer and co- producer. Rameez Mukhtar is the lead singer. We were the first band to introduce Fusion music to the masses and received tremendous appreciation.
What genre does Fuzon consider itself to be? Major influences?
Basically, we are a band who likes to experiment with several different forms of music and eventually shape it up to incorporate the sound and the structure of all those musical ideas into a song. We believe in producing powerful melodies and the musical structure revolves around the melody line. Hence the name: Fuzon.
There are several influences that we share as a band such as Queen, Van Halen, Toto, Police, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan, Ghullam Ali, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, R.D. Burman, Randy Rhodes, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and several others.
How has Fuzon’s compositions evolved since 2001?
It’s quite evident that with time people evolve. The direction and focus changes and so it obviously effects your creative cycle in a good way and music becomes more mature. As far as Fuzon is concerned we have managed to extract sound scapes and structures from musicians and bands that we collaborated with internationally and have learned through different experiences while performing and recording.
Biggest challenge as an Indie band in Pakistan.
In a country like Pakistan where the music industry does not have a form or a structure and considering the instability, primitive and extremely conventional thoughts and ideas of the majority, surviving as a professional musician is like fighting against the tide day in and day out.
But self belief, passion, determination and a positive vision has always made musicians, individuals and people shine even in the most adverse of situations. I guess, the negative energy around us sometimes gives us the fire to go higher. Record labels are incompetent and unprofessional. They are more like releasing companies which means that the artist ends up doing all the work. So it is quite clear that the amount of responsibilities on each and every artist and band is enormous and hence it takes longer to get your point across and get your message heard.
Where have you guys performed so far?
Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, U.A.E., Norway, Italy, U.K., and U.S.A.
How different is the audience response compared to back home in Karachi?
Our fans have always shown us a lot of respect and appreciation wherever we have performed. Be it Karachi or New York. Be it Bombay or Bahawalpur. We have been fortunate enough to receive love from music fanatics all over the world. Most memorable experiences that we remember have been in India, Italy, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, U.A.E., Norway, U.K. and America.
Which song from your released albums would you recommend for one who has yet to hear of Fuzon?
“Khamaaj” (Mora Sayian) and “Neendh na Aaye”.
A decade has passed since Fuzon’s emergence. What has changed?
The color of my hair and Emu’s hair and our lead vocalist.
How/Where do you find your inspiration for songs? Be it lyrics or music.
Life. People. Situations. A certain environment. Solitude.
Which is harder? Writing a song, creating the music for it or performing live?
Well, professionally speaking I would say it totally depends on one’s approach, mindset and experience. Nothing is hard if you are involved from deep within. But if you are not involved then even strumming a C chord can become a daunting task.
What’s the ultimate goal for Fuzon? Has it been achieved?
To perform for astronauts in space.
In all honesty, as a band and as individuals we would want to see Pakistan progress, prosper. We want to see people live in peace and harmony. We would like to see a liberal, tolerant, educated Pakistan.
People who love_____will love our music.
I managed to get hold of both their albums, listen to all their songs and am officially a Fuzonite. I just coined the term by the way. Anyways, 10 years of experience of making music, two albums to their name, various performances around the globe, numerous accolades and of course thousands of fans all over.
They made their mark with this album. One whose tracks were nothing short of amazing! A particular track that I think should be on repeat mode for a long while is “Ankhoun Ke Saagar”. The vocals were so intriguing given the background training the vocalist had. I loved the fusion of the classical vocals slowly backed up by guitars. If I had to imagine this, I’d be whining as to how diverse the electronic guitar is from traditional Indian vocals, and that it was probably real absurd for one to even visualize that sort of an accompaniment. And later I would be proven wrong for, this great track worked beautifully. My favorite track and bound to be yours once you listen to it and soon enough begin to agree with me.
“Madhbanti” had a mysterious piano prelude followed by guitars. Shafqat is capable of putting on a great show. Shallum is no newbie to the guitar and he really maximized his skills. The one bit of guitar solo was as if he wanted to prove the guitar was no less than any other stringed instrument. I found the overall aura of the song a little sad. A good kinda sad if you will.
Other tracks include “Dooriyan”, “Khamaaj”, “Nadaniyan” and by now, you probably figured I am just gonna go on. Why not do yourself a favor and listen to the entire album.
“Neend Na Aaye” is undoubtedly the highlight of the album! A crowd favorite I’m assuming. Journey marks the debut of Rameez on vocals with Fuzon. I love his voice and the way he sings. Period.
“Dholna” was an interesting track. I can’t exactly place my finger on how it should be received except it didn’t fit into any particular genre. It certainly lived up to their motto: Fusion.
“Jo Dil Ne Kaha” was a sweet, slow ballad. Loved it.
My opinions are biased of course, they are my personal favorites remember. I have to say both albums carried awesome tracks that will have a place in your Ipod. Certainly did in mine. However; Journey takes the crown for my favorite album from Fuzon. Its grandeur is revealed in a simple way and that would appear to listeners of all kind.
They may be a border away, but we have our means…
Eva Dowd, their uber nice publicist is in the process of setting up The Official Fuzon Fan-site for fans to access both the musicians and their music. For other Fuzon friendly sites you might wanna turn to, to access their tracks together with a profile write-up, I recommendLastfm and Reverbnation.
Besides being the founder and part of the Fuzon gang, Shallum the guitarist is also in the midst of pursuing his solo acts. More information on that, can be found on his site.
Note: Images courtesy of Roydon D’mello and Fuzon.
Recall the natural disaster that caused thousands to relocate and hundreds to lose their lives either to save their land or in an effort to save their dear ones? Many dealt with the crisis – Especially the affected Japanese. They redeemed themselves to work harder than they usually would to restore their nation. In a way of paying tribute to both their bravery and also to call out to the rest of the world to join hands in aiding the affected nation, a project was begun – Indie Aid Japan.
A couple of dudes from Malaysia, started calling out to people to donate their thoughts, music, poems, paintings whatever it may be; one that was totally their work to contribute to the aide. From all that was received, a number of songs were chosen to compile an album for the cause.
Remember how I keep harping on supporting the talents featured on this site? Telling you guys to go get their albums, Download their songs, etc. I hope many of you did listen to the tracks recommended and have come to start appreciating some new varied music. J
So the next thing you should do, and because this is for charity: is to download Indie Aid Japan – The Album. You can choose to download a single track or even the entire album, for as little as 6USD. Not much. Really. If you are wondering if it’s a good idea, how about I tell you I downloaded the entire album and greatly enjoyed listening to the tracks.
And because GingerChai advocates sharing, I will highlight a couple of tracks that were contributed by our very own Indian musicians and a few others that I think you should give an ear too. Now that’s exciting right?
Indie Aid Japan – The Album
The album features 28 tracks from a range of musicians around the globe. India specifically has five tracks chosen for this album. A whole lot of creative juices from Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia make up the remaining album.
Tracks contributed by India
“Land of The Rising Sun” by Shadow, is a non-lyrical composition which has closely represented the Japanese culture with its soothing piece.
“The Land of the Rising Sun” by Surjo Bhattacharjee is a ballad that carries meaningful lyrics. If you have been reading (and I mean sincerely) this series, this dude’s name should sound familiar to you.
“The Calling” by Evergreen is a number that speaks volumes in terms of both lyrics and score. Highly Recommended!
“Tanomoshii” by Varun Athreya is a slow moving, mellow track for easy listening.
“Behind Again” by Alex Rintu an acoustic-pop piece you just HAVE to listen. Highly Recommended!
Fusion of languages
“Tonight” by Karishma Gill from the United Kingdom. According to the album she is an Artist, Singer, Lyricist, Composer, and Reiki Master . I tried my best to source her out on the world wide web but failed miserably. Karishma and Gill, both appeared to be popular names. The track features several Hindi lines between its otherwise majority English lyrics. The mix was catchy and I love her voice. I really hope she makes an album at some point.
“Peace n Love” by Leiana Robertsonfrom New Zealand. The lyrics in the beginning were in a language that I barely recognized. If you have any idea what language that could be, enlighten me please. The rest of the track was a pleasure listening to.
“Kenangan sebuah kenangan” by Al Fakhrifrom Malaysia created an amazing piece of music that evokes a whole range of emotions. Enough said. The title is in Malay by the way. Highly Recommended!
“Thaw” by CC Sound Factory from Singapore. Give it up for the creativity from my nation! *claps*
“Geisha” by DjayPee from Malaysia/France, is another Japanese ambience creating track. Think kimono, Think Sakura. There you go…
Some other favorites
“Change” by The M.A.D Project (Melissa Indot, Altimet & Deja Voodoo Spells) from Malaysia has a uber cool track right here. It reminded me of my video games and the introduction score. Highly Recommended!
“Let Me Know’ by James Baum (feat. Nerdy Boy) from Malaysia. Highly Recommended!
“Grey Day” by Morgen Bis Abend from Indonesia. If you’re into Jazz, this will be a delight. Highly Recommended!
This is not the end. Well end of the article alright, but not the album. 28 tracks remember. I’m not gonna list all of them down, that’s for you to go seek and listen. The entire track list can be found here.
So… all set to part with 6 bucks for a good cause and some good music?
This time we put our soul on the line in featuring Blues Conscience from Chennai. I have to say they belong to the minority of indie bands, that actually go onstage in suits and yes, hats too. A three member band composed of Anek Ahuja on Vocals and Bass, Aum Janikiraman on Vocals and Guitars and Neil Smith on Drums. They claim it all began at a sister’s wedding. Indian Weddings? Blues? I couldn’t connect but who cares. All it took was a wedding to bring out the blues in these dudes. Voila!
Where they came from, how they ended up doing what they are doing now is better expressed in Anek Ahuja’s own words.
Tell us about Blues Conscience.
We’re a 3 power act, just like “Cream”. Although, we do collaborate with other musicians such as Maarten Visser on saxophone, Siddharth Kumar on keyboards. We also did a stand-up comedy and blues act with Shyam Kumar. As a 3 piece we got our music figured out as base, to let any other musician collaborate easily with us.
How was the band formed?
The band was formed to perform at my sister’s wedding. Although we did not restrict ourselves to blues, soon after the wedding, we thought why not do a blues act. Since all 3 of us really enjoyed, playing and listening to it.
Why Blues Conscience?
‘Cos it didn’t restrict us to authentic blues but rather, we play music which is heavily influenced by the blues.
A Blues Band amongst the rapidly growing punk, hard rock, metal indie scene in India…Howdoes it feel?
It feels great! There aren’t too many blues bands out there. I guess ‘cos all the newer bands are pretty young, and cater to a young audience. The blues has more soul, and appeals to a much more mature audience.
You guys do this full time or have separate jobs apart from this?
We all have separate jobs as you might be aware, of India’s opportunities for musicians. Moreover, we’d like to get richer faster so we can buy ourselves better equipment. I run a graphic design/advertising agency here in Chennai called Whoa Mama Design, Aum runs a similar agency called MMU Communications and Neil works at Amazon.
Major Influences in your music?
Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Chris Rea….
Inspirations behind the song writing?
Most of our ‘writing’ is never really written. The words just come, while jamming on a guitar, and then we take it; twist it around and see what comes out of it. Mostly for new songs, the lyrics change a couple of times during a show before it’s properly set. Although Aum our guitarist likes writing his songs with many versus. I like to keep it simple I guess.
How’d you guys managed “blue” and “Barack Obama” to work inthe same line for the track Barack Obama.
Barack Obama was not written for him. It was written for an American girlfriend of mine, who at the time, was returning, to the states as he won the elections. I didn’t want her to leave. “So the only way I could make her stay was if Barack Obama comes with me”.
Not forgetting the “interesting” Shaggin’ Ma Dog (????) – How did that came about?
Shaggin ma dog, a pretty popular hit on the Chennai circuit, was originally written to cheer up a close friend of mine, when his dash hound died. I know, it’s dark humor, but it did cheer him up. And then, the song was used once anyone else’s dog died.
Which is harder? Writing a song, creating the music for it or performing live?
I wouldn’t say either of them are hard. Although performing it live really determines how well you’re able to shape the soul in to the song.
How important is clinching a record deal?
I have no clue. Right now to us not too important I guess.
If you could tour with another band, say from the local arena, who would that be? And why?
Well I think “Soulmate” from Shillong, is an awesome band. They got their feet, into the authentic blues with great riffs and amazing vocals, I’d love to tour with them. I guess also cause they have a great fan following, and would help us reach out a bit as well.
Well we have a demo of 8 songs, out of which 2 are really covers. But we have written about 10 songs now, probably write another 2-4 more, and call it an album sometime soon. We also will re-record all the songs from the demo, as that was a rushed job.
We’ll be playing at Counter Culture Bangalore as an ode to Robert Johnson – Ode to the Blues on May 7th. There are other bands playing as well.
Which song from your originals would you recommend for someone who hasn’t heard of BluesConscience?
Kamasutra, Tipalo, & Shaggin ma dog.
People who love (____) will love our music.
They have yet to release a solid album. But, demo songs and a few cover songs are already up for audience listening. And if you have been around Chennai long enough, you would have heard them perform at a myriad of locations around the Southern Coast.
Kamasutra and Morning After were my favorite tracks amongst their many compositions. Be it any track, the vocalist had the x-factor in his voice to pull you into the track and perhaps get you to groove a step or two. The saxophone accompaniment is an another reason why one should really listen to this track . Blues Santa was another track I sort of liked. But I can’t say it was a favorite. It was not bad in its own way.
That was Kamasutra for you. Fancy their music now? It doesn’t quite stop there. Although my selections here differ from what Anek suggested, you need to get the best of both worlds so I’m still gonna go ahead with my choices.
Morning After was a tad less upbeat but similar to the previous track the vocals were amazing and let’s not forget the instruments behind this particular track. They were the unsung heroes.
Most of their tracks reminded me of John Mayer (but that could just be me) and perhaps Jimi Hendrix for you. Either way, the tracks were definitely worth listening too. Since many of the tracks were demos they were fairly short. No worries, we have been assured that the band will be re-doing some of their demos and we might just be treated to a full fledged album soon.
Red Jam and Memphis Blues are stand alone non-lyrical tracks. They bring with them the beauty of the music these guys are capable of coming up with. It’s a great start for one who has never been exposed to the genre before. I particularly loved the way Red Jam started playing.
One need not be into the entire “blues thingy” to get the feel of it. That’s the thing. You can be a newbie to the entire genre but still groove to it. Unlike metal whereby if you’re not into head banging, you’re just torturing your ears. For starters, because hardly we feature blues here, I’d recommend you guys to go treat yourselves to Blue Conscience.
If you think you have known all about them and are already a fan, time do what I do and obviously preach: stalk! Simply stalk them on their fan page, (don’t we just love social networking sites) keep track of their upcoming gigs and go attend! And of course return to that same fan page and leave them an encouraging compliment on how much you enjoyed the show. And if the comment boxes on these sites aren’t enough for you, write to us (or mail to: sip[at]gingerchai[dot]com) about your experience and we will feature it.
Ode To The Blues – 100 Years of Robert Johnson
Before you start reading about it, I have to tell you that the event sounds uber exciting. There is a whole range of items arranged for the audience. I’d be more than glad to attend. So here’s the thing, if you are in Bangalore, I suggest you go have some blues fun on my behalf. Now onto the real stuff…
Celebrating the 100 years since the birth of world renowned blues guitarist Robert Johnson, a week of movies, music and maybe popcorn has been organized. And it starts today!
If you’re around the region, you ought to go catch up on the movie screenings that begins on the 1st till the 6th. Movies that will be screened include Feel Like Going Home by Martin Scorsese, The Road to Memphis by Richard Pearce, Piano Blues by Clint Eastwood to name a few.
And that’s not all!
As previously mentioned by Anek, Blues Conscience is also part of the big performance!