One of India’s leading guitarists, Shitalchandra Kulkarni is the front man of renowned rock band, Tungstn and brand ambassador for Ibanez Guitars. Over the past three decades he has been a composer, producer, performer and teacher with body of work including live gigs, albums and various projects ranging from personal, to festivals, films and corporate events.
He recently released his first solo album titled, Endless, which is a bold departure from the conventional in that it is a completely instrumental one. It is also a testament of Shital’s self confidence and belief in his ability to hold the interest of his fans and audience.
Shital picked up his first guitar at the age of five and fell in love with the instrument and over the years his favourite guitar has been Ibanez. His first band Tallfathins won the all India Live Wire band contest at the IIT Mumbai Festival in 1990 and his second band Tungsten, later Tungstn with trimmed lineup, brought out two albums – the first a self titled double album and the second titled, Jumpstart.
Shitalchandra is an ex music faculty at Flame University and he also runs the Institute of Modern Music, which was founded by his father Suhaaschandra Kulkarni a well known accordionist, back in 1965. He set up his own studio, Chords India, in the early 90s and worked on over 400 commercial titles but for some years now he has been using it for only his personal projects.
Here Shitalchandra Kulkarni talks to Ragatorock in this indepth interview, about his passion for the guitar, the independent music scene and his musical journey through the past three decades.
When did you decide to be a Musician?
I had a musical background and I came from a musical family. My father is a professional musician. His principal instrument is Accordion, and music was always in the family, and from the time I started understanding that I am completely drawn towards creativity and playing, music is what I decided I want to dedicate my life to.
If I have to go way back, I started learning the guitar when I was in 5th standard, performing for school gatherings, competitions, imitating label songs was my first ladder, that which I continued for few years and this initial learning, studying, progressing years gave me an insight that I am meant to be full time in music- in all departments.
Tell us of your style of Guitar playing? Your favorite Guitar players & influences in your music?
It is very difficult to self analyze my playing, I have never done that, I always followed my instincts and spontaneity than the technique but of course I tried to polish my skills and playing techniques, and handling the instruments from the sound perspective is of utmost importance to me, and the way it is heard.
Guitar, as an instrument has various styles and has been improvised by various players. Imitating is fine initially, but finally the player grows only when he imitates himself and that’s exactly what I have tried to do over the years. Trying to imitate what plays in my head and unfortunately after playing for decades I have still not being able to achieve that.
But yes like all guitarists I do have my influences which start way back from my school time.
To name a few, Ritchie Blackmore, Eddie van Halen, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, Steve Lukathuar, R.D.Burman, Yanni to name a few.
Tell us about your latest Album?
My new project, a instrumental guitar album is called ENDLESS. This album is going to be released by songdew.com in three parts over the next one year. The first part consisting of six tracks has just been released last month.
Its a new thought I feel of replacing vocal by instrumental notes and improvisation. Every track is shaped with a fixed composition with a canvas of production giving the listeners a surprise elements everytime they listen. Every track has been thought with some context keeping a certain vision and emotion in mind. For example -
Super Ride talks about a drive , about a skilful ride,
Dark Street- talks about anxiety to fear to rise,
Run For Cover- talks about speed and chase,
Water- different expressions of water in classical manner,
Take Me Through- Chemistry between guitar and EDM,
Beat The Heat- Full on groovy and rock and roll.
The entire album's composition, production, sound design, and playing is done by me taking the support of my two ace engineers Mr. Gaurav Korgaonkar for music synthesis and Mr. Shridhar Deshpande who recorded all guitars and mixed the album.
The album was mastered by Mr. San Page at Page Productions. The entire album is recorded and mixed in my studios - Chords India, Pune.
ENDLESS is an album which will redefine instrumental music and people who even don't listen to instrumental music or guitar oriented music can also enjoy this project.
Why did you want to make an instrumental album?
I was always vocal composition oriented person, right from the beginning of my career, I always did vocal music where guitar played the role of accompaniment but parallelly I always thought that the way I handled my instrument, I could do more than just the supportive role. Instrumental music, instrumental pieces, colouring the pieces or the solos was always my parallel musicianship, that made me write lot of instrumental germs as scratches which eventually I have produced them to some extent in ENDLESS. I always wanted to do an instrumental act where I could get the freedom of play but discipline of composition and that was my main drive to do instrumental project.
While being a full time musician how did you manage all your other activities?
Well that's a good question because managing domestic and professional life is always a challenge Though I am full time into music I always worked for myself and on four fronts, Teaching, Studio work, Music Faculty at FLAME UNIVERSITY, and Personal projects.
Finding time, making time, giving priority, forming an Agenda, financial aspects and food, to creativity doing a balance of all this, is always tough. Still since I call myself a professional musician I have always tried to streamline all my musical responsibilities backed-up with musical academics and my personal life too.
Sure...not that I was 100% successful, but yes with few highs and lows.
Tell us about your studio and institute?
My institute - INSTITUTE OF MODERN MUSIC was started by my father Suhaaschandra Kulkarni way back in 1965. We have a huge curriculum of 5 grades per instrument backed-up with certain syllabus for every grade right from the base to advance level. We are teaching guitar, mandolin, piano, keyboard, accordion and drums and we have a very specific system of teaching every student individually and each student is given separate scientific training - right from scratch.
For more information on institute please check the site - www.instituteofmodernmusic.in
And do check the youtube channel for the way the students are trained.
My Studio - CHORDS INDIA is basically designed and equipped now to do my home productions and my home work. I started my studio way back in the early 90s and did commercial work for more than 400 titles till 2007 and since then this Studio is used only for my work. My studio is equipped with a lot of Analog and Digital and DAW systems to see to that I can capture the sound which sounds right to my ears.
Share your journey from Tungztn days?
It was a combination of struggle and party time for about more than 15 years. We released our debut twin album called TUNGZSTEN in 2000, followed by multiple concerts, serious ups and downs, change of line ups, change of thought and pattern of music till 2007. In 2007 renamed the band as - TUNGZTN with a trimmed tight trio line up. Worked on new material for the next 2 years, followed by 2 more years recording the material in the studios… released the album - JUMPSTART in 2013 and disbanded in December 2015, before releasing our first Hindi single SOCHNA MANA HAI. This was the story of Tungztn with a span of 15 years, in short.
What do you think of the independent music scene in India?
If you ask me, independent music, indie artist or bands have always been through their struggle and tough times to show their existence. Its been a debate over the years that the so called Independent music scene is improving, is promising, is more engaging but according to me I really never understood all this because except the few artist here and there most of the artist had a rough ride and tried hard for the ends to meet, because other than Bollywood Music Industry there is no other revenue building music industry which gives a concrete platform to display skills and art and compositions which can be a mode of survival.
Hobby is different but settlement and getting repaid for your passion and fire is different.
Until and unless people and powers recognize the need to display the skills of independent artist in the coming years, the acceptance is not going to build and in turn give it a status of an industry.
What is your advice to young and upcoming artistes?
Imitation is ok to begin with but be yourself and get married to your own emotions and skills to display your creativity.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
More settled, more watched, more heard, more followed, more earned...hahahopefully to see a bigger recognized Indian independent music industry.
Anushka Manchanda had taken on the new avatar of Nuka, when she launched her debut single' 'Don't Be Afraid', is out with a searing new track, 'Ayo Burn', which is a scathing, no holds barred comment of the things that have been happening in the country in recent times. Nuka has been many things as Anushka. She came into prominence on one of India's first reality shows. She was picked from among thousands of aspirants to become a part of the phenomenally successful all girl band, VIVA!. This led to her being signed on as a VJ with Channel [V] and assignments with various TV shows including Fear Factor and MTV Stuntmania because of her passion for motorcycles.
From there on Anushka moved on to playback singing, first in South films under music director Yuvan Shankar Raja and then on to Bollywood with leading Music Directors like Vishal-Shekhar, Sandeep Chowta, Anu Malik, Eshaan-Shankar-Loy, Salim-Sulaiman to name a few. She was is now blazing a new path in her new avatar and it is everything she stands for.
Who is Anushka - Singer, Actor, Producer?
I am an evolving artist, refusing to be put in a box. Being a singer, an actor, a producer, a director, an editor..these are all different vehicles of my expression. In this moment, I am proud to be one of the voices of India, out on the street with my brothers and sisters, working hard to protect everything my country stands for.
How did you become a Music Producer? How did InkInc come about? Are you also a stake holder?
I got irritated at having to depend on other technicians to create what was in my head. So I took a music production course. IncInk is the lovechild of Navzar Eranee, the seed of which was sown when we all gained access to some of the best talent in the country, through a project we were working on. No, I am not a stake holder.
Who is Nuka? Why another identity you are already famous as Anushka Manchanda?
Nuka is who I really am. An artist producing art without any adulteration or censorship. With Anushka Manchanda I have done work for years on films and projects with other people. I wanted to separate the two, only to make it easier for people looking for the art or music I am making now.
Do you like to produce Music in English language? Do you play any Instrument?
I think in english and I write best in english too. I play piano.
Tell us about you song 'Ayo Burn', what is your statement/message? Any other info you would like to share?
I say pretty much everything I am feeling in the song! There is so much apathy, and things have been bad for a long time..but today I feel a new ray of hope. The youth is out on the streets. People are listening. This song is meant for those still sitting on the fence. We need you. And we need you now!
Are you sending a message to the current Political establishment?
This song is being sung to people like you and me. It’s for us to take responsibility. If we sit back and let all of this stuff happen to us and the people around us..then are we any better than the ones causing this?
Would you venture into Politics?
I’m not politically motivated, never have been, although I am paying more attention to what’s happening in the country today.
Whats your next song/album?
I have a track I’ve produced for Kaam Bhaari which you will hear soon.
On the eve of the 8th year of Bollyboom concerts, we caught up with Mr. Manuj Agarwal, CEO, Percept Live, to share his views on the journey so far, Artists, and his competition.
How has Bollyboom progressed over the years?
Bollywood music has been a vital part of every Indian and by combining this with the beats of Electronica, state-of-the-art production, SFX, and the best of Bollywood Artists we knew we could offer a brand new BDM twist and create a unique Live Entertainment experience for the huge numbers of Bollywood music fans all across India and overseas.
Bollyboom was launched in 2013 and featured legendary music maestros Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Salim-Sulaiman, Shveta Pandit, Shraddha Pandit, and Shadab Afridi who set the stage ablaze with their foot-tapping, head-banging music specially created to the infusion of electro beats of DJ Lloyd, DJ Nik & AJ, and Acid. Over the years we chose the most popular
Punjabi Bollywood / Pop Artists like Guru Randhwa, Diljit Dosanjh, Honey Singh, Badshah, Amyway and many more who are immensely popular amongst the youth.
Seeing its growing popularity, Bollyboom evolved into multiple formats. We launched Club formats which ensured a national reach and also gave us an ability to introduce and promote young upcoming Bollywood DJ talent pan India.
A pioneering initiative saw us take over popular traditional Indian festivals under the Bollyboom banner and create a brand new revived experience for the youngsters who were already used to celebrating festivals such as Holi, Valentine’s Day, Baisakhi, Friendship Day, Christmas and New Years Eve with popular Bollywood music. ‘Bollyboom’ is the ONLY all
India and even International brand in this space.
We have also produced and launched many successful International Bollyboom shows across Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, South Africa, Singapore and more. In fact Bollyboom Valentine’s 2020 is all set to rock Dubai with Indian pop-rock band Sanam ft. Sanah Moidutty Live on 14 February 2020.
Why have you repeated the star artist Diljit Dosanjh again this year?
This isn’t a repeat artist show but a continuation of the Bollyboom Multi-City India Tour 2019- 20 with Diljit Dosanjh that we had announced earlier in October 2019. The enthralling multi-city pan India tour with the popular Punjabi heartthrob kicked off on 9 November 2019 in Pune and 23 November 2019 in Bengaluru to great success and we are now ready to rock Delhi on
2 February and Mumbai on 22 February, 2020.
Diljit Dosanjh is a remarkable and versatile artist who wowed audiences at the primary Bollyboom editions as also fans around the globe all through last year. Diljit Dosanjh has seen his popularity graph soar not only due to his powerful and foot tapping melodies but also because of his memorable and impactful performances in the Bollywood film industry. We are super thrilled to have him on board as part of our Bollyboom Multi-City India tour. The Pune and Bengaluru shows were a massive hit and we are thrilled to bring him closer to his fans across the cities of Mumbai and Delhi therein offering them an incredible opportunity to witness his electrifying performance live and up close.
Bollyboom has many smaller artists performing during the year; this is more a branded event rather than a Festival? Your view...
The scale and size of Bollyboom cannot be replicated across every metro or town as it wouldn’t be feasible given the limitations across India of infrastructure, venue availability and access, permissions and increased costs translating into expensive tickets for the guests. However given its growing popularity we had to ideate and create new sub formats such as mini Arenas, Pop Ups and Club formats which not only ensured a greater national reach, but also gave us an ability to introduce and promote young upcoming Bollywood DJ talent pan India.
Bollywood Music has been a lifeline of India for ages now. Every Disc, Lounge, Club, Wedding, Birthday Celebration prominently has Bollywood music being played in its original & remix form. Percept Live’s Bollyboom events offer an extra edge – not just the variety of both established and new, upcoming Talent across cities, but also an intrinsic mix of the best of live
entertainment elements spanning live percussionists, exotic live performers, curated F&B and above all, a safe, secure, seamless experience for all attendees making any Bollyboom show a success time and again.
How do you look at BollyBoom as compard to the other 'Bolly' events?
Having the ‘first mover’ advantage with Bollyboom certainly gave us an edge compared to many other ‘me-too’ Bollywood live event shows that popped up after Bollyboom’s launch in 2013. Bollywood music infused with the beats of Electronica is a phenomenon that's become only more and more popular since inception and has become the number one music choice of
the youth today. And proof of this is seen in brand Bollyboom’s phenomenal growth over the past 7 years across India and overseas.
We also undertake a lot of research, given the dynamic pulse of the millennials. Over the past 7 years we have continuously innovated, tested, experimented, and introduced newer and multiple variants recognizing the potential of Bollyboom across India. Bollyboom offers not only the latest trending artists and tracks but also an amorphous blend of Trance, House, Hip
Hop, Electro Funk, Synthetic, Pop, Club Music, Techno, Trance, Hardstyle and Dubstep to keep up to step with whatever is trending and popular with our fans. Our focused dedication towards delivering the very best is how we have remained successful and grown versus a sea of impressionist Live Entertainment options available in the market today.
Our brand name and credibility has also certainly helped - Percept Live has been instrumental in blazing trends in the music and entertainment industry since decades and fans know that any Live Event IP from the Percept stable offers a unique, state-of-the-art, guaranteed VFM experience. We already had a huge fan following with the youth across India & overseas
courtesy Sunburn, and another IP from our stable in the live music space carries the advantageous stamp of credibility and authenticity for our fans.
Going ahead I see Bollyboom growing massively to tap many more markets across India as also overseas. We are already working with top talent and in future we will add many more prestigious names to this roster. Plans are afoot to create a curated Bollyboom show which will travel globally like ‘Sensation’. Besides that our calendar will expand to have at least 200 events pan India and overseas annually.
Shahin Badar is a versatile Award winning Singer/Songwriter, acclaimed worldwide for her vocals in The Prodigy's banger, 'Smack My Bitch Up', and made her legendary. She has collaborated with various world renowned producers across the world covering music genres like EDM, Trance, House, TripHop, Pop, Sufi over which she implemented her production ideas. Her collaborations includes the likes of Indian Ropeman, Bobina, Gemini Brothers, Noise Control, Doug Laurent, Kaya Project, Gio Makyo, Jah Wobble, FX, Fraser T Smith, Twista and Juliet Lewis and many more. She is also credited with successful albums like 'Laila' and 'Destiny'. Recently my vocal Chants of 'Smack My Bitch Up' got sampled by USA Rapper ASAP Ferg for his single 'Floor Seats', and also in a series BALLERS starring Dwayne Johnson. Both hugely successful in USA.
Shahin Badar's vocal contributions feature in over 50 international film and TV soundtracks like the UK Music Hall of Fame, the Lara Croft Tomb Raider:2, Charlie's Angels, Scary Movie 2, Closer, US sitcoms North Shore and Kevin Hill, and Sky News broadcasts. She has also sung in Bollywood movies for A.R. Rahman in Zubieda & Yuva, Dhai Akshar Prem Ke to name a few. Raga to Rock caught up Shahin Badar during her stay in Mumbai to find out about her Remix versions of 'Jaag' and her future plans.
Tell us about your song 'Jaag'
'Jaag' is an edgy and hypnotic song about women empowerment, that revolves around awakening one’s resolve for independence, breaking the shackles of misogyny and appeals to the listeners to move forward without being tied down by age-old customs and norms.I have released 4 Remix versions of my single ‘Jaag’, the remixes have been produced by world famous EDM Producers like DJPodje from Ireland of “4SuMotion”, he has produced the Vocal & Dub Mix. The 3rd remix has been produced by UK DJ & Producer Juttla and the final track is also produced by UK based Kaya Project.They have done a fantastic job on the remixes.
Tell us how do you use your work for the empowerment of women ?
To me basic core of humanity is understanding and respect. All my Music videos have a message for women about her Power, Strength, Belief, Struggles and Guidance, who continues to fight for her rights through peace, understanding and knowledge.and that is what I am trying to spread to the world.
Who inspired you to be a Musician?
My mother is my inspiration, she trained under Naushadsaab and Emdad Khan Sarangiwala. As she was not allowed to pursue music as a career, it was passed on to me! My mother also writes Ghazals as a hobby, she has penned two of my tracks "Laila" and "Jhoom Jhoom" on my debut album.
Give us a few names and experiences with the legendary Artists who you have worked with?
I have had the pleasure to work with several Legends, all were unique. Its honour to work with Hollywood Music composer Michael Dannah for the film, 'The Hulk', I shall always remember the way he greeted me. A.R.Rahman was a little shy but a wonderful person to work with, we had some great laughs. Above all great respect goes out to our legendary big beats man Liam Howlett, when recording my vocals for 'Smack My Bitch up' it was truly exceptional.
How does it feel being called the voice of The Prodigy?
You made me smile, I guess the chant on 'Smack My Bitch Up' has left it's mark in the history of EDM music. A great honour to be associated with The Prodigy. At their concerts, to hear the fans sing along to the chant with such devotion is unbelievable, used to brings tears to my eyes. The Prodigy fans around the world are No.1 and I love their humility and crazy energy!
How do you feel with the loss of Keith Flint?
It just does not feel the same without Keith Flint. May his soul rest in peace.
Why have you not sung in Bollywood soundtracks?
I have recorded three tracks with Oscar winner A.R.Rahman. My vocals featured on the track, 'Dol Dol' on Mani Ratnam's film Yuva and I also delivered alaap chants on the back ground score of the film Zubeida. I am stil waiting for Azizi to be released. A fine track produced by Rahman and written by Mehboob.I would like to do more work. Over the years, I was extremely busy taking care of my parents. I haven't had much chance to take time out for myself until now, I am also hoping to work with some cool Music Producers from India this year.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Would love to continue with my travels around the world, meet beautiful people who will keep enriching my life with their knowledge of grace and kindness. Rest we hope, depends on the Almighty's Good Will.
Paroma Chatterjee better known as DJ PAROMA is today one of India’s leading female DJs. From a novice in a predominantly male dominated field, she has over the past eight or so years, proven that she can hold her own against the best of the guys out there. Today she is a celebrity DJ who is on the jury of several TV shows including Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Lil Champs. She was the winner of the WOW Asia Awards 2018 in the best Female DJ category and the official DJ at IPL 2014.
She has done several official Bollywood remixes for Sony Music, T Series and Zee Music and performed gigs all over the country and across the world including the US, Australia, Asia and Middle East. Recently she was appointed Brand Ambassador for two renowned brands, V-Moda and UDG Gear (representing India on their worldwide website amongst the top djs of the world) which is a source of great pride for her.
DJ Paroma has come a long way from starting off as a cabin crew member with an airline, a few stints in other fields, before deciding to go with her passion for music and ending up as India’s top most female DJs. For her, “Music is a human expression in the medium of time using the structures of sounds or tones and silence".
Here she talks to RagatoRock about her career, her struggles, her belief in herself, on the road to eventual success.
How did you start your Musical journey?
Well, I am someone who sure dreams but I never have a concrete plan for the future. I take each day as it comes. The pressure then to make a right career choice after giving up on three different fields before, led me to choose something that I found close to my heart, which was music! DJing was not with an intention of keeping it as a hobby. I wanted to make a living out of something I really liked and that gave me the space to be creative. That is how I gave myself a deadline to explore in this industry and by God's grace, it all worked wonders.
What inspired you to become a DJ?
Since I loved music so much and I was at a juncture in life where I needed to make some decisions that would keep my heart happy and not just run after money, I said to myself ‘DJing’ must happen since I wanted to get into something associated with music.
How did you acquire your DJ skills?
I fancied the profession of a DJ ever since I started partying, which was very early in life. I figured that I had the energy and passion on my side. And I just did not want to be only the dolled-up chick behind the console. I wanted it to be a package showcasing my talent along and be a performer, not just a DJ.
To upgrade my skill, I took an intensive four- month course from an institute in Mumbai, under Bob Omulo, who was a stellar mentor. After a month since I finished the course, I was hired as an assistant DJ by a four-star property close to where I lived. Within 8 months into the job, I got my first freelancing gig on Christmas eve in Chennai in 2011 and from there, there was no looking back.
what kind of music do you play? Techno, EDM, Drums and Bas, House, etc.
As a DJ, I believe that a DJ who loves music must be keen on listening to different kinds of music and must try and experiment and educate the crowd with different genres. But since I perform only as a guest DJ and have very limited time to dish out what my crowd would love the most, coming from a country like India we all know what Bollywood can do to you and that’s exactly why I chose to specialise in the same. I love playing Bollywood; however, I also do play at gigs where I play Hip Hop, commercial and EDM.
What kind of DJ do you want to be?
Successful DJing is all about bumps on seats. The audience is an essential half of DJing. If you want any kind of success, you take this to heart and never lose sight of it.
What does it take to be a DJ?
There are no certifications or license requirements to become a DJ. All you need is zeal, hard work self-motivation and lots of love and respect towards your job.
What kind of difficulties you have faced and how you overcame from that?
In a career spanning about eight years, I have overcome many challenges. My early days were full of struggles, and this low phase continued until I actually got in the flow. DJing was a male-dominated field then. Many people tried to discourage me at the beginning of my career:
“People told me that this profession couldn’t take me anywhere and it is not socially acceptable for a woman to play music at nightclubs. I took it up because I didn’t find anything wrong with it.”
Soon I realized that I need to ignore the naysayers, as they were taking a toll on my work and this was affecting my peace of mind. Besides, there were security issues connected to being a female DJ at a nightclub—to be considered. But I remained committed to this endeavor. I think half the challenges you can disregard if you are focused on where exactly you want to be, and if you know your capabilities and worth.
You are a Glamorous DJ how come you have not added modeling & acting to you career graph?
It’s there on my checklist and hopefully in coming days. But I also believe every glamorous woman shouldn't focus only on careers like modeling and acting. I get highly inspired by women who are glamorous and still choose to rock their own respective professions apart from these.
Do you compose Music? do you have any original Music?
I am working on my first single now after studying the industry carefully. It is absolutely my dream to have my own single and that will happen very soon.
What is your latest project?
My remix of ‘Ami Pagol Hoye Jabo’ by Deep Jandu that I thoroughly enjoyed playing during the Puja at Kolkata. Its a very unique track that has a blend of Punjabi and Bengali lyrics together.
Do you think DJs are Music Composers?
A DJ traditionally plays existing tracks that are already established, at gigs. There are a lot of skills associated with DJing. Beat Matching, track selection, interaction with crowd etc. Nowadays, the gap between the two is getting narrower and if you want to be a good DJ, then you need to release tracks and EPs. This is to gain more exposure and build up your fan base.
Do you have any project in your pipeline?
I am working on a remix of my latest fav track ‘Ghungroo’. It’s more in a funk style that I am so excited to release. I haven’t heard anyone make one of that genres for this track. I love the track originally and I would love to see people dance on it.
What do you think of DJs replacing Bands? Are bands for the history books?
I think a DJ can offer nearly limitless variety, flexibility, from classics to current. They can play exactly the music you have imagined. The higher production quality of recorded music, with every instrument and vocal balanced in the studio, makes it sounds great at any volume level. This allows the DJ to adjust levels as necessary throughout the event. However, some bands are very talented and have great interaction with the crowd.
Anyone who really helped you when you were a nobody?
Yes, it was my family especially my mom along with my close friends who believed in my dreams and allowed me to fulfill it.
Piece of advice for DJ’s carving their way in this industry.
Every DJ need to be patient at all times and cannot lose patience in the beginning. Just hold on, as your hard work and determination will pay off soon someday.
Your favorite Top 5 DJ's and favorite 5 tracks?
Armin Van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Tiesto, KSHMR and Eric Prydz.
How do you sleep - Sam Smith, I don’t care - Ed Sheeran, Señorita - Camilla Cabello, Mann Bharrya - B Praak, Ghungroo - War
Ranjit Barot hardly needs an introduction. Internationally acclaimed as a drummer and musician, he has played with some of top most jazz musicians in the world including John McLaughlin, Don Cherry, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Louiz Banks and A. R. Rahman, to name just a few. His work with John McLaughlin on the 2008 album Floating Point received a Grammy nomination in the best Contemporary Jazz Album category.
Drums and percussion has been in his blood from a very young age and he was greatly influenced by such greats as Ustad Alla Rakha, Ustad Zakir Hussain, jazz legend Billy Cobham, Elvin Jones, Carnatic legend Palghat Raghu and friend and teacher Sridhar Parthasarthy among many others.
A multifaceted musical talent, Ranjit Barot is an established music composer- director, producer, arranger and lyricist with numerous feature films and sound tracks to his credit and a great singer to boot. He has been a fixture on most of A. R. Rahman’s projects and live tours.
Here he talks to Raga to Rock about his life and musical journey through the years.
You are rated among the Top 100 Jazz drummers in the world....How did you make it?
I don’t know about top 100, but yes, through my work with John McLaughlin I’m now visible in the highest of jazz circles worldwide. This happened through a certain amount of serendipity. My elder brother and mentor, the great Zakir Hussain, made the connection and the rest unfolded like it should’ve. It involved deep introspection, hard work and a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of drumming and musicianship.
What do you think of the Drum machine and electronic music?
I love them both. They have a valid place in modern music production and one must not look at them as ‘replacements’ for the real thing. They’re another entity altogether, bringing with them their strengths as well as their inability to be human.
You have been making Music in various capacities from being a Musician, Lyricist, Composer, Sound designer, Singer, Curator, etc. Who is the real Ranjit Barot?
There is only the one Ranjit Barot, who is involved in all facets of music creation. I see no boundaries nor barriers. One must flow like water. Cliché but true. This is important for one’s growth as a musician as well as a human being. Also, very necessary for survival.
Also could you share Artists/People who played a part in your Musical journey?
There may be too many to mention here but I’ll try. Firstly, my mother and my first guru, the legendary dancer Sitara Devi. Without her being a major part of my life, I might not have amounted to anything. Then I’d have to say Ustaad Allarakha, my first rhythm guru and spiritual guide. Then a little known, but a giant of a musician and composer, Soli Dastoor. Louiz Banks was a big part of my growth too. Last but in no way the least, the amazing AR Rahman. He exposed me to so much magic as well. As I mentioned, there are too many to mention here. I owe so much to so many people.
Favorite 5 songs each Hindi & English?
That would be impossible to list. So much incredible music has happened.
Can the son of the legendary Sitara Devi dance?
Not at all. I saved my family from that embarrassment a long time ago. In fact, one of the things I told my wife before (or maybe after, I can’t remember) is that I’d be happy to do anything except dance. That’s something she shouldn’t expect from me and I’ve been true to my word.
Tell us of your projects in the pipeline?
I have an indie project entitled Musafir, a culmination of my musical journey thus far. I have an upcoming tour with John McLaughlin this October and I’ve formed a new band called UnCommon with my two brothers from Paris, Etienne Mbappé and Christophe Cravero m. And lastly, my band with my daughter Mallika Barot, which is called Superphonic. We’ll have an EP our later this year.
Any specific plans for the future in terms of collaborations, festivals, teaching music, grooming young artists...
This is an ongoing process. Empowering students and other musicians, curating festivals, trying to unearth the vast musical heritage that our beloved country possesses.
RANJIT BAROT-GURU GYAN
You presented your daughter as an Artist at a Music Trade show, what would you like her to achieve in the Music world?
Firstly, I’d like her to be happy, as a person and human being. Which I’m happy to say she is. Then you channel all the blessings you’ve received into a positive sound and a positive attitude towards life. Be of service to others and society at large. I’m happy to say that she is on her way to being all of this.
How difficult was it for you to succeed in the Music business? what would be your advice o budding musicians?
Difficulties are only difficulties if you acknowledge them as such. It’s a journey....you do work which convinces some people and not others. Don’t take rejection to heart but look at it as trying to find new words to say the same thing. Some people respond to a different kind of language and one has just find the right things to say to the right people.
Any piece of advice for upcoming Drummers today? Your secret for success?
Stop looking at how many likes you have on YouTube/ FB, whatever. Play for the joy of playing. It’ll add years to your life. That doesn’t mean you don’t stay relevant, don’t practice, etc. You have to be at the top of your game to survive these days. But eventually you have to be you. Not an imitation.
The future of music across genres Classical, Film, Jazz, Rock in India... Your thoughts and views
Music is alive and strong. It’s not going anywhere. I’m not filled with gloom or despair. All sorts of music is happening. You have to find your place on this merry go round and make sure you don’t fall off the horse.
RANJIT BAROT- RETRO JOURNEY
How did drums happen to you at a young age?
Drums found me at the age of 14. There was a talent show in school and they needed a drummer. I volunteered and have never looked back.
You have been a part of Pt. Ravi Shankar's ensemble, could you share an experience?
T was sublime to share the stage with Panditji. His aura, his smile, I remember it to this day. I became a part of this ensemble as part of the 1980 Jazz Yatra.
'Floating Point' with John Mc Laughlin made you a Grammy nominee, how did that come about?
I got to ‘jam’ with him at the Abbaji concert held on every February the 3rd. This is hosted by Ustaad Zakir Hussain and in the evening, after we had played together, Johnji asked me to collaborate with him.
You have worked with music Directors from Kalyanji Anandj, Lakshmikant Pyeralal, RD Burman, Ismail Durbar to AR Rehman could you share what it was working with each one.
It was exciting to be in the presence of such stalwarts. Again, all the time I spent doing these recordings with these greats was a huge learning experience. Like for instance, even as far back as the 70s-early 80s, RD recognised the value of spontaneity that comes out of a ‘jam’. At every sitting at his house, where singers and arrangers met to break down a tune, I noticed he had mics placed all around the room so the discussions were recorded into his nifty cassette player for review and gathering ideas later. No one else at the time had that foresight.
But not just musically, also the humanity that these masters possessed had a deep impact on me. Especially Pyarelalji. He walked into the studio everyday and made sure he greeted all of us before getting to the business at hand. That’s 100 musicians on some days, between the rhythm, string, electronic and brass sections. Amazing! Other times, when I would get to his recording late at night after my long day working for the advertising industry, the entire orchestra and singers would have done their parts and left. But he would go home and come back no matter how late and sit alone while I tracked, because that was the way he showed value for my time.
You have been Curating and Composing for huge events like the Commonwealth Games, Serendipity Arts Festival, etc how do you manage it?
I don’t even think the thought of being ‘spread too thin’ crosses my mind for a minute. I live and breathe music, life and humanity. What else is there to do?
As the song goes,
"Its alright, no more pretending.
Just ride without no worries
Its alright, don’t hide.....
Just free yourself and let it dance...."
Trance Effect, the Indie Pop Rock band from Nagaland takes us on a nostalgic journey through their music.They want to use their music to spread the message of positivity and overcome the hard times that people,specially the younger generation are going through with their music.Music really can heal the soul. We meet up with Trance Effect to know more about the members and their music
Give the readers a brief introduction of the members and how it all started.
We are a band from Nagaland. On Vocals, we have our dynamic and compelling performer Iuli Yeptho. Sosang Lkr on Drums, a quiet but an expressive player who never fail to capture the right beat at the right time. Temsujungba on guitars, the bigger than life character and an outstanding showman.Tako Chang on Guitars, his unique approach to music sets him apart, drawing more into melodies and catchy riffs. Imnamaong Imchen on Bass Guitars, with his experience for performing life music and minimal playing adds just the right amount of colour to make the audience groove into the music.It was in fact our bassist who came up with the idea of the band. He was keen on making music in a band and sounding like no other,but honestly it’s because we came together to make music that all of us enjoy- I guess you could call that our secret ingredient.
Can you name the Biggest influences of the band. What inspired you guys?
We are influenced and inspired every time when we see a great live performance. It was the love to perform live music and create music that drew us into forming the band, it motivates us into putting in the hours until we get the music straight. We grew up watching our local artists and bands perform, they’ve had quite an impact to all of us.
How would you guys describe the bands sound? How are you guys different from other bands in the country?
Well,we would describe our sound as somewhat of a melodic approach to the Indie genre of music. We're all from different musical background and genre but the love to create beautiful melodic music brought us together.
The bands Name 'Trance Effect' how did it come about? What is the story behind the bands name?
Well, we wanted a name that would set a difference to the music scene in the country, that's why the name Trance Effect, which is a more melodic off shoot from Techno or House music is what drives our music even though we don’t have a DJ in the band. So, we named the band Trance Effect.
About the journey so far,how has the experience been?Tell us about you favourite gigs and festivals?
We'll,so far we've had a few gigs and played at festivals like Orange Festival in Dambuk, The Drift Music Festival in Guwahati but yes every gigs would be considered as the best because of all the different venues and different crowds. It helps us to make a beautiful story of our musical journey.
Tell us a little bit about your single ' Stop Pretending' what inspired the song?
The song was written by our vocalist and it talks about the struggles and hardships a person faces in life. It talks about trying to Stop Pretending to be something one is not and to have a positive view on life. Well if you guys haven’t listened to the song then you can just stream it from all the steaming platforms like Apple Music, JioSaavn, YouTube etc
Any upcoming release,if yes give an insight on what's next for Trance Effect?
We're working on our EP right now and yes Hopefully, we may have it completed by the end of this year and also a music video along with it.
Lastly, any message to the readers and your followers.We’d just like to say be who you are, be original and just spread love. With our Dedut EP coming out you are going to see a different side of us. So, let’s go on a musical journey together. Thank you for your support, we love you.
In the world of the written and spoken word, a name like 'Rumi' resonates a certain quality of depth and wordplay. In a contemporary context, 'Spitfire' aspires to be as great. The word 'Spit' is slang for the power of the spoken word. The word 'Fire' empowers the words to provoke or destroy anything that stands in his path. His weapons for peace and war are his words. Now imagine a word spoken, visible, soaked in the gasoline of depth and meaning, and then set it on fire. Spitfire embodies Ink set on Fire. Nitin Mishra is the real name of 'Spitfire', the young rapper from small-town Madhya Pradesh. The “Asli Hip Hop” hook from the Gully Boy that you’ve been tapping your foot to was created by him.
Swaddled in his grandmother’s frosting coated love since childhood, Nitin Mishra was not taught to stand up to hood bullies violently, which is probably why he took to the might of the word so easily. Growing up in small-town India, Nitin grew up completely unaware that hip-hop was not a dance form. This was only until he met his accomplice and brother Ayush Khare, who pushed Nitin to experient with the genre. Together they formed the duo, ‘RAPresent’ with Ayush as ‘Wordsmith’ and Nitin Mishra as ‘Spitfire'.
Scribbling lyrics about teachers and organizing casual rap battles in school not only seeded Sptifire’s initial inspiration, but also got him kicked out of school in the 11th grade. A darkness in disguise, Spitfire hung onto the one thing he had: a desire to express his thoughts on notebooks that weren’t just meant for examination answer sheets. Inspired by the likes of rapper-poets like Bohemia, who deftly spoke to the world in a language comfortable to them, Spitfire overcame his self-consiousness about his English and started working on rhymes for all the Hindi and urdu poems he had scribbled over years in his notebooks. Thus began Spitfire’s journey into underground hip-hop in India.
Spitfire has come a long way from surfacing the dust roads of an early teenage to showcasing his flawless poetry on the big screen, and has proudly been representing the heartland of India: Madhya Pradesh, or ‘Midzone’ as he fondly likes to call it. His lyrical fluency and way with words became apparent with his contribution to Gully Boy, for which he wrote most of the protagonist, Murad’s rap battles. His single for the feature, ‘Asli Hip-Hop’ was used to introduce a Bollywood dependent audience to the real value of Spitfire’s beloved genre.
His debut EP “Paathshala” is about how Spitfire saved Nitin Mishra. The EP speaks of an old wealth of knowledge based on experiential learning that guides us to who we are. Art and expression had once saved Nitin, so he has now found the strength to give back and spit words soaked in truth. You can feel his frustrations and his release juxtaposed in every word, in every song.
Fueling ink with ignited angst, Spitfire is a humble voice of surety as he rolls (read ‘spits’) out poetry in purity of truth and intent. His debut EP ‘Paathshala’ is a testament to this vision and creative dexterity. An EP with a profound lyrical quality of poetry that is timeless, is why Spitfire is fondly known to those around him as Little Ghalib: a poet whose words penetrate through you, surpassing time and trend.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.