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Suraj Mani: Worth the trip!

Offering new perspectives Suraj Mani

Offering new perspectives Suraj Mani  


Award winning singer-songwriter and composer Suraj Mani on making Bengaluru his home and the inspiration it gave him to embark on a new musical voyage

You haven’t really experienced what it is to lose yourself on a merry music trip until you have met Suraj Mani. The popularly dubbed city-based rock poet, was also a writer, composer and frontline vocalist for the iconic rock act Motherjane. He is now on a journey of a lifetime enthralling audiences with his showbiz perspective of life through his poetic rock music. Dabbling in the independent music scene in Bengaluru’s soundscape with his new act titled Suraj Mani & The Tattva Trip, the 42-year-old music tripper is carving a new niche of acoustic rock poetry.

On the Tattva Trip, Suraj explains that it is the essence of things – a philosophy in Sanskrit.

“At the centre of me, I’m about perspectives. I write about life the way I see it and sometimes the way I would like to see it. Each song for me is a celebration of beauty or a way of seeing beauty in everything. I was tripping on them. And it became a Tattva Trip that I ensure even the audience experiences.”

Often performing with a half-painted face, he points out that it is perspective again. “Each way of seeing life is the tool and not the journey itself. Learn to use it appropriately and you will learn to enjoy it. The half-painted face on stage says there is a side of me that is defined and a side of me that will go anywhere I want to.”

Describing his musical journey as one full of coincidences, Suraj recalls that though he never officially learnt music, his music expedition kicked off at a very unlikely encounter.

“I was in engineering college and some seniors tried to rag me by making me sing. When I was done, they ended up complimenting my singing. That was a revelation and I was inspired to put my thoughts into music.” He goes on: “When I started working, I went to a floating restaurant with a friend in Cochin. There was a band playing without a vocalist so my friend introduced me to them as a singer and they asked me to sing a few songs with them. After the gig, they asked me to join the band, which was Motherjane! We recorded two albums and became probably one of the biggest bands in India.”

“That was the second coincidence – going to drink tea and joining a rock band!”

After shifting to Bengaluru in 2001, Suraj continued his musical excursion by travelling to Kerala for the next 10 years to practise with the band. “It was a good 28-hour bus journey. However, three years ago, I suffered a spinal injury and had to quit. But, as luck would have it, another coincidence happened and I couldn’t let go of music. So I picked up the guitar, started writing new songs, did an album and have written four albums worth of new material and have now embarked on a new eventful soundscape.”

During his journey, Suraj realised that he has been very lucky. “But, I also realised that many other artistes aren’t so lucky. That led me to start a record label called Aum-i-Artistes where the priority was to ensure artistes get paid for their music. That led to the concept of Music Mojo for Kappa TV. We started small, but it spawned a whole lot of bands that have gone global, including Thaikkudam Bridge and Masala Coffee.”

He further elaborates that in these three years since he picked up the guitar, he has thoroughly enjoyed the new format. “It took a lot of guts to scale down to this level from an arena big-band space. I found the rest of the players at various other shows and formed the band. I also realised it was time to start the Bengaluru angalore chapter of Aum-i-Artistes since it was doing well in Kerala. So I converted my office space into a studio floor that doubles up as a shoot floor to attract photographers who can see bands and be seen by bands. This will be a space for them to connect.”

On transitioning from Motherjane to becoming a rock poet, Suraj laughs and says: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” He adds: “I was in a band that had guitar legends and I used to write music. When I reached the stage when I didn’t have a band, I picked up the guitar myself. It hit me what a joy it was. I checked out a chart on Carnatic scales and in theory it was like engineering. So it made total sense to for me. So I found ragas, created chords and put together music that was not conventional. I can do a show on my own now. It’s been exciting and that’s always a good indication that I’m on the right track.”

Agreeing that Bengaluru has always been good to musicians and all kinds of immigrants, Suraj says any city like this is great and spawns a lot of creativity. “It’s got musicians from all over the country and a nice pub culture. One reason why I started this space is for children and teens, who can’t go to pubs. They can come here and experience Indian independent music.” He adds that what artistes need today is infrastructure. “They will take advantage of it and do well. So I’ve put this space up. I’m going to succeed. Others are going to succeed. So why not succeed together? We can ensure our industry rises to the top by seeing success in one another.”

Looking ahead, the Tattva Tripper says his journey will continue. “Sometimes even a conversation sparks a song. People like an artiste who represents them. So I will continue to find people like me and play for them. I will go out and embrace the world every day. I also want people to take away perspective and power from me. The charming thing about life is you have the power to change your situation. I will ensure the spark of awareness,” he sums up.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2018 6:53:39 PM |