Passing by Five-time Grammy award winner Futureman is looking forward to his Bollywood debut with the Paresh Rawal directed Jalebi
It takes a maverick, to take an independent stand. That defines Roy Wooten aka Futureman, five-time Grammy winner who was in Bangalore to perform with the Black Mozart Ensemble. His untidy dreadlocks, fashionably held back with a bandeau from falling around his unshaven face, added to his aura of being a maverick musician.
In response to the question of why he calls himself Futureman, Roy spoke of his penchant for inventing new musical instruments. “My Drumitar is a combination of a drum and a guitar. I can play it just using my fingers like the tabla and the congo drums. I grew up playing the drums and that is why I invented it so I can play a whole symphony on it effortlessly.”
He has also invented the Royel which is a keyboard with 192 keys. “It has sensors below the keys, is electronic and a spin off from a typewriter. My Mum was my inspiration for it. She was so poor as a child that she could not afford to buy a typewriter. So, for her typewriting class she drew keys on a sheet of paper and practised on them. Finally she was so proficient that her speed was just one step below the teachers. Now, 300 years after the invention of the piano in 1700, comes my Royel!”
Futureman lives in Nashville, Tennessee which “I consider a music city, with musicians everywhere and anywhere.” Clutching a book through the interview named “The Chevalier de Saint Georges” who was a mixed race classical musician from the time of Mozart, Futureman explained his fascination with de Saint George.
A brilliant musician who had written a lot of classical music which never saw the light of day as Napolean destroyed all he laid his hands on, since Saint George was a coloured man.
“Saint George lived in an era where the slave trade was rampant and only white musicians like Mozart and Haydn were felicitated. I resonate with him, and so along with the Black Mozart ensemble create music where the richness and diversity of different cultures are showcased. I believe in the circle of harmony and with Priyadarshini (a classical music singer from Mumbai) we perform a unique blend of Eastern and Western musical sounds.”
Drawing a comparison with food, he said, “Indian food and Chinese food like other cuisines are unique, I don't intend making them into another MacDonald's, rather I would like to bring out their unique sounds in our performance. We have a cello, banjo, four violins and the drums in the ensemble. As for the music there is hip hop, Indian classical and other Eastern influences in my compositions.”
Futureman also included a Michael Jackson number, as he was the King of Pop, in the performance. “Yes! We did ‘Billie Jean' but of course our own unique version!”
Ahead on the cards, Futureman will collaborate in Mumbai to score the background music for a planned movie called “Jalebi”, about four couples in Mumbai. The movie is directed by Paresh Rawal.
“That's an exciting project for me,” says Futureman. “The world is looking at India after ‘Slumdog Millionaire' with independent films winning most of the awards. So I am very interested in this East-West collaboration.”