Friday Review » Music

Updated: August 29, 2013 18:42 IST

In the big league

Athira M.
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Stephen Devassy Photo: K. Ananthan
The Hindu
Stephen Devassy Photo: K. Ananthan

Ace musician Stephen Devassy talks about being chosen as an official artiste by Yamaha, his new album and reality shows

The keyboard wizard that he is, Stephen Devassy has scaled heights in music. A brilliant musician, music arranger and performer, A livewire musician, arranger and performer, Stephen has the ability to set the stage on fire with his electric performances and also strike a chord with his listeners, be it on the small screen or in live shows.

Stephen has jammed with legends in Indian music. He has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall, London, and with the gospel band Rex Band before Pope John Paul II. He remains Asia’s highest scorer in Solo Piano Exams from Trinity College of Music, London with a score of 92.2 per cent. Incidentally, he completed the course in a record time of three years.

Now, to top it all, he has been chosen as an official artiste of Yamaha, becoming only the third Indian musician to get this honour. An excited Stephen shares his happiness with MetroPlus. Excerpts from an interview:

What does this selection mean to you?

Yamaha is, of course, a leader in manufacturing of music instruments and being selected an official artiste by them is a great achievement for any musician. I’ve been chosen to endorse the brand Motif, a synthesiser from Yamaha. Only two Indians have achieved this feat before – Louis Bank and Loy Mendosa. What makes this selection special is that from now on my name will find a place amongst the top keyboard players in the world! Also, I’d be able to take part in world music festivals, music exhibitions and get a chance to play new instruments.

How will it change your career?

This achievement is not a simple thing as far as I am concerned because I’ve achieved it by working from South India. It is totally different from working from Mumbai. So, I am proud to be recognised for whatever I’ve done so far. Nevertheless, I’m shifting to Mumbai next month for better prospects.

On reality shows

There was a time when television audiences were hooked to serials. Then came a flood of reality shows. But if anything goes overboard, it will lose its charm. That has happened with reality shows. Even then I firmly believe that as long as talent is there, reality shows will continue. These shows have given a new lease of life to hundreds of talented singers/musicians.

On the personal front, it has been reality shows that made the world take notice of the instrument I play. Till then the keyboard or piano was treated as a backup instrument. But when I was given a chance to do unplugged versions of chartbusters or jam with contestants, people started noticing me and the instrument.

It might sound strange, but a businessman who runs a shop selling music instruments in Ernakulam told me that thanks to the shows, his shop sold 45,000 keyboard in two years. It is like I’m being rewarded for what I’ve done with the instrument. Also, in a reality show, I could showcase many lesser known instruments and musicians.

Up next

I’m working on an international instrumental album, blending western and Indian music genres. And I’m planning to bring in Pedro Eustache, who was principal flautist of Yanni for many years. I’m hoping to associate with the famous Prague Symphonic Orchestra for the album.

Also, I am working with Ustad Zakir Hussain and Hariharan on their album, Hazir 2, a sequel to their album Hazir which was launched over a decade ago. Meanwhile, I would like to compose for more films.

Composing for films

I might do a Tamil film towards the end of the year. Talks are on. Also, I’m happy with the association between our Muzik Lounge School of Audio Technology (MLSAT) and Centre for Continuing Education Kerala (CCEK).

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