CS Bhagya

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Tag: Music

Interview: Suman Sridhar

WHO Mumbai-based Sridhar is a singer, actor, songwriter and producer and one half of the contemporary music duo Sridhar/Thayil. She has appeared on independent albums Violet Samudra and Brown Circles, and sung soundtracks for Hindi films 404and Shaitan.

How has your family contributed to your music?
My mum would trick me into going for music class — alighting the BEST bus last minute, and leaving me to ride to class by myself. A rebel child, I could never study music as a discipline with my mother or any other teacher. However, it percolated into my life at all times. My parents would always be performing, teaching, attending concerts, in jam and recording sessions. I grew up with a 7 am aalap for an alarm.

Jazz, electro-pop and Hindustani classical. How do you fuse them?
Music happens in the silences and spaces between these categories. When musicians create, these genres are irrelevant. Genres are a product of our market-driven economy and record labels needing to slot your music into a shelf.

Who are you as a part of Sridhar/ Thayil? How are you different outside?
My material outside of Sridhar/Thayil tends to be more political and demands the audience to engage. Sridhar/Thayil, however, is deliberately more mainstream in content.

Tell us about your opera-noir.
The Flying Wallas: Opera Noir is a two-person minimalist contemporary opera; a conversation between a ghost and a soprano and the audience. Two lovers belong to the same flying trapeze company. One fails to catch the other, as the latter falls to his death. The opera opens with this death scene and a blood-curdling scream from the soprano. The story is a conversation about guilt, murder, love and loss. We deliberately used contemporary language sung in a classical operatic style; the ghost’s words were spoken in verse. The result was a being of its own — neither opera, nor drama, nor poetry, nor a concert.

How does travelling inspire your work?
Travelling means you wake up in a new place, anonymous, with few belongings, without a ringing phone. It is the natural state of being for a musician — the troubadour.


This interview appeared in the July 14th issue (no. 28) of Tehelka magazine. 


Interview: Tritha Sinha

WHO Kolkata-born Tritha Sinha juggles three musical outfits – the solo/ acoustic TRITHA, her ethnopunk band Tritha Electric, and her Hindustani trip-hop band SPACE. She shuttles between Delhi, Kolkata and Paris, experimenting with different kinds of music.


How has your family influenced your music?
We’re a typical Bengali family – we love eating fish and listening to music. My grandfather wanted a girl in the family to be a singer. When I was five my parents introduced me to an Indian classical music guru. I opted for music over medicine; my parents were persuaded because I was very serious about it. I’ve been supporting myself from the age of 17 doing music. I react almost physically to it, which propels me to sing and compose.

A childhood memory?
I sang Tagore in my own way, at the age of eight, in front of horrified aunties who’d been singing Rabindra Sangeet the way it’s been sung for 50 years.

What is ethno-punk?
Ethno comes from my Indian classical roots and baul influences. Punk is an expression of my struggles and frustrations looking for independence as a woman in India. I conceptualised this with Paul Schneiter, a French drummer and producer, for my new outfit Tritha Electric.

Instruments you play?
In Tritha Electric, I play the electric guitar; use a looper and a delay-effects voice processor. My electric tanpura, the mandira, and some percussion are a constant presence. I also picked up a kazoo from Paris — it’s my mini saxophone.

How has travelling influenced you?
Living in Paris, jamming with underground jazz musicians and travelling around Europe for the last seven summers has helped me integrate African beats, trip-hop and punk in my original songs. I go back to Kolkata to rejuvenate my knowledge of classical Indian music.

Tell us about your song Pagli.
A sound engineer in Paris wanted to hear me rap in Bengali. I imagined myself as a madwoman in the streets of Kolkata, took on that role and started singing like her. I’m going to make an album of it adding more songs. A new pagli song is a punk one called Fish Market.


This interview appeared in the June 30th issue (no. 26) of Tehelka magazine.

Bidding farewell to Rzhude David

His first gig was playing the triangle in the school band! He brought out his first solo album in 1994 and joined the Bangalore-based Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ), one of India’s pioneering rock bands, in 1999 as the bass guitarist. Eleven years later, Rzhude David bids adieu.

“Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I didn’t have to try too hard to play music or learn it. I took naturally to playing whatever instrument I came upon,” he says, recalling how he became passionate about music. “I never really chose rock or the bass guitar in particular. I prefer playing acoustic guitar and percussion, preferably folk styles — it’s just that my public image has been associated with rock music and the bass guitar.”

When David joined, Bruce Lee Mani and Rajeev Rajagopal were the only remaining founding members of TAAQ, which started as a Christ College band. Now he feels he can comfortably lay claim to having played a pivotal role in making it a part of India’s rock history. “Be it independently producing and marketing its own music while being a pioneering online presence, or conceptualising and executing both national and international tours, we’ve been there and done what it takes to be a globally admired musical entity,” he says. “By sheer stubbornness, if you will, we took a stand when original music by Indian bands wasn’t appreciated, and carved a new place. The TAAQ sound is niche. Our style of music has consistently evolved and defied categorisation.”

If the scenario of Indian rock music today is undergoing a transformation for the better, it is due to rapidly devloping technology, David thinks. “While rock is not really a part of India’s musical heritage it has certainly found musical expression in the last few decades due to the way technology has broken down cultural barriers. Today’s kids with access to computers, software and the Internet are empowered to create, record and promote their own sound.”

But it’s time to move on, David admits. “As the oldest member I think getting in some younger, more energetic blood will do the band a world of good!” He currently heads a project called MusicLab, which designs music education solutions, bringing the latest technology and teaching methodology to schools across India. “I feel the need to focus on projects that I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t, because of the mind space that being a full time member of the band, a corporate career and a growing family demands. I’ve opened what I call the Acoustic Garden. Here I can work on music at my own pace,” he says. “It is an intimate acoustic space with just about all the tools needed for the organic process of music production.”

He will always treasure the great memories, he says. “From traversing the UK in a beat up tour van, getting near bushwhacked by goons in Ahmedabad, to living it up in five-star luxury brushing shoulders with some of our idols, it’s been a long, strange and mostly self-indulgent trip, but well worth every moment of it.”

Published in DNA, May 21st 2010