As Swarathma gets ready for its maiden performance in the city, lead vocalist Vasu Dixit talks about the band’s USP
Great music goes hand in hand with electrifying showmanship whenever Swarathma takes to the stage. The Bangalore-based band revels in brings rustic Indian music mixed with with a fine blend of Western sounds and styles, as they set the stage on fire with their infectious energy, clad in their trademark funky attire. The band is also big on social causes, which it stands out for the social causes it takes up through its the songs. Music buffs in the city get to watch the band perform live tomorrow (February 21). They are performing as part of ‘Cult A Way 2014’, the techno-cultural fete of Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering. Vasu Dixit, founder and lead vocalist of the band, talks to MetroPlus about the show and the band. Excerpts:
Performing in Kerala
We had performed only once here – in Wayanad for a corporate event, a few years ago. So, technically, this will be our debut show for a large audience in Kerala. We all are looking forward to the show and are trying to learn some Malayalam words. And our saving grace is Jishnu [Dasgupta, bassist of the band], who is a pseudo-Malayali! (laughs) He is a Bengali, brought up in Thiruvananthapuram. He is so ecstatic and thrilled about performing in his home town. We have another Malayali, Jomon Jacob, our touring drummer. But we are not sure about getting any help from him because he doesn’t speak much Malayalam. His drums do all the talking. We hope people will enjoy our music going beyond the language barrier. In fact, we are huge fans of Avial band and have even tried to learn their songs such as ‘Nada, nada’ and ‘Chekkele’. Therefore, we expect people here to love our music as well.
You do ‘Action Replay’ shows for those who are cut off from music. At the same time, you also do concerts for colleges, organisations and corporates. How different are these experiences?
The audience is different in that in Action Replay concerts. They wouldn’t know what to expect from us. We take our music, free of cost, to them. It could be a village, an orphanage or a school for the visually challenged or even a shelter for women. We call it Action Replay because we are replaying our shows for them. At the end of it, they are delighted, which make such shows far more memorable than the big events. It all started when we went to Naukuchiatal in Nainital, to meet Shubha Mudgal’s mother. Shubha, who is more like a mentor and friend to us, suggested that we jam in her mom’s front yard, and get local school children and her neighbours as the audience. The experience was beautiful and we decided to take it forward. Next, we performed at an orphanage in Kolkata, a shelter for girls rescued from human trafficking. Now, we do as much Action Replay shows as possible, especially at the places where we have regular concerts.
Do you call yourself a politically inclined, socially conscious band, as you have taken up topics such as corruption (‘Topiwalleh’), communalism (‘Yeshu Allah’), the Cauvery issue (‘Pyasi’), sensationalism (‘Aaj ki taaza fikar’), and the like in your songs?
These songs speak for themselves. We are staying true to what we feel. We leave it to the audience to decide whether these songs reflect the true state of affairs.
The band entertains not just with its music, but also with your attire, antics and theatrical elements, including a dummy horse. How did this evolve?
We were looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. We love to present our music with theatrics. The costumes are influenced by our background in theatre, especially that of myself and Pavan. We mostly style ourselves.
You can’t keep Bollywood out of the Indian music scene. But when we get requests to play film songs, we usually turn them down. However, we are open to working in films provided we are allowed to present the music which we make. Just like what Indian Ocean did in the movie Black Friday.