One of the India’s foremost guitarists and ardent supporter of independent music, Claver Menezes recently released his latest album, ‘Diverse Delusions’, featuring various singers from all over the country, giving it as the title suggests, a diverse and eclectic musical experience.
Comprising of 19 tracks, it has some of the most illustrious singers featured on each track including Sherrin Varghese, Suzanne D'Mello, Uday Iyer, Sidd Coutto, Gary Lawyer, Temeer Chimulkar, Sujit Kumar, Ashwini Torvi, SiDD, Shawn Pereira, Nitish Roque Pires, Christina Andrew, Sukhbir Kalsi, Neha Gandhi, Riyaz Qadir, and others.
Claver took up the guitar when he was twelve and a year’s time started performing on stage. He was just 14 when he formed his own band ‘Rust Angels’ in 1992. Rust Angels performed in various college shows, gaining in popularity and reached the ‘Live Wire’ finals at the IIT Mumbai Mood Indigo Festival in 1993. He was highly influenced by Joe Satriani and soon came to be recognized as one of the top rock guitarists in Mumbai, for his distinctive style and speed on the fret board.
He started his record label Hangar Records in 2000, to as he says, ‘keep rock music alive’. In 2001 released an instrumental album, The Unborn Recital, on which he brought together some of the best guitarists in the country. In 2002 he came out with his next album, ‘Screwed’ which featured songs by some of the best bands in India. Rust Angels disbanded in 2004 and Claver set up his own studio to concentrate on his solo projects and in 2005 scored the music for the film, ‘Sacred Evil’. In 2008 he formed the band Zedde, playing numerous gigs and shows across the country. Claver released his first solo instrumental albums ‘Crooked Ways’ I & II in 2018.
Here Claver Menezes talks to Ragatorock about his musical journey.
Tell us something about yourself.
I formed my own rock band 'Rust Angels' in 1991 practicing and playing cover versions of Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Metallica, Megadeth, Wasp, Anthrax and many more. The band gained in popularity and attained prominence among the young college-going crowd. We performed at rock shows across colleges and also entered the finals of Live Wire (IIT, Mood Indigo) the next in 1992.
Zedde came to existence in 2008, which was one of the popular bands I was with. We made a lot of original music together and we saw great appreciation for it. Our song ‘Mumbai’ won the prestigious ‘Anthem of the Year’ title at the world’s largest indie music awards: AVIMA 2010. The video for the song frequented all popular music channels, including VH1 and MTV India, and climbed to #1 on the YouTube India charts within 24 hours of upload. The ‘Best Band’ at ArtistAloud.com Awards 2010 and the regional championship at the Hard Rock Rising 2012 challenge followed. As part of Hard Rock Rising 2012, Zedde made it to the top 10 from amongst 12,000 bands worldwide.
When did you decide to be a Musician?
There wasn’t a particular event or a eureka moment for it. My entire family was into music, and that already gave me a taste and music came to me naturally.
Tell us of your style of Guitar playing? your favorite Guitar players & influences in your music?
Joe Satriani's style of music has been the most significant influences in my style. Every good song influences me. I love 21 pilots and how with just 2 people they create magic on stage.
Tell us about your latest album?
I have been wanting to make this collaborative album for a really long time now. Putting out 19 songs in one album took a lot of efforts, but now I take a sigh of that sweet sweet relief and happiness. The album is essentially me collaborating with various singers. Each singer brings in his/her quirks in their songs. Of course you could go listen to them on all music streaming platforms.
While being a musician you were also a working professional, how did you manage to do both?
During the day I used to go to the office do my regular day job, and during the nights is when I used to work on the album, and of course the weekends were entirely dedicated for this as well.
Tell us about Hangar Records? the whole journey?
I started a recording label called Hangar Records, and brought together the top guitarists of the country in 2001 for an instrumental album, 'The Unborn Recital (FOK II)' and a video featuring all the guitarists were also produced and released. The participating guitarists in the album were Li'l Finger, Ravi Iyer, Sarosh Izedyar, Paresh Kamat, Dhruv Ghanekar, Warren Mendonca, Suri Sequiera, Chandresh Kudwa, Edwin Fernandes, Sushil, and Randolph Correia.
The very same year Hangar Records recorded and released another album, a non-instrumental this time, called 'Screwed' which other than my own band Rust Angels featured other rock bands Zero, Sceptre, Thor, Fate, Psychomotor, Kinky Ski Munky, AFS, Freedom, and Morticide. The reason why Hangar Records came into being was to keep rock music alive.
What do you think of the independent music scene in India?
I see a lot of music festivals happening in India but I hardly see any indie rock bands playing anymore. It only disheartens me to see no independent rock musicians being pushed on any of these platforms. I see a lot of heavy rock music or pop rock playing these days but nothing which can be considered as the middle ground of these two sub sects.
Why has India not produced any great independent artistes, compared to the West where music is propelled by musicians and bands?
In the West music is their job, where they are paid handsomely for their music / performances. Whereas in India, rock musicians are paid peanuts or worse, not paid at all. So they either give up or they start playing for Hindi film industry.
What is your advice to young and upcoming artistes?
Do your undergrad in whatever interests you and then do an MBA. Hahahaha.
- Stanley Paul
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.
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.
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.