From just casually jamming with school friends, this 10-member Chennai eclectic band has come a long way.
How did you first become a band?
Vikram Sarathy: Most of us studied at Chettinad Vidyasharam and we started this band about eight years ago. The mix of Indian and western instruments, gave our band a very unique sound and has made us hugely popular.
Why the name Staccato?
VS: While we were in school we didn’t have a name, but once we went on to different colleges we needed a name to perform together. We initially called ourselves Sustain fourth, but it wasn’t lucky for us and we didn’t fare well in many competitions we took part in. Finally, just before a competition when we had to register for I suggested the name Staccato because most of the notes we were singing in that show was staccato.
What about live performances?
VS: We performed at the Vijay awards; we have also done launches for stores like Satya Paul.
Kaashif Rafiq: We do a lot of commercial gigs. Staccato has represented India at the World Finals of Tum Tum Pa- an innovative percussion event organized by Red Bull in Brazil.
How does the band come together with such different styles of music?
VS: Shruti sagar, the Carnatic flutist in our band, is the backbone of our band. He holds the band together. We want to make Carnatic music more accessible to the public. We want to make it popular and help youngsters connect to this genre. Today the youth are not aware of traditional music because they are not able to relate to it, that is why we try to infuse Carnatic to our songs. If you listen to the violin lead in our song ‘Salsa’ it is purely Carnatic but otherwise the song has a western flavor.
How did you end up getting selected to play at the Olympics?
KR: First, my dad came to me and mentioned his friend, Shrimathi, who had a contact for the ECE (Educational Cultural exchanges), told me to apply for this. So I gave an audition tape of two songs (‘Salsa’ and ‘Songs by Air’) from Staccato. After going through a rigorous four month process we got an email confirming our selection.
VS: From Asia, only India and China got selected.
What songs are you performing at the Olympics?
VS: We are planning to perform a potpourri of genres; we will definitely be doing covers of both A.R. Rehman and Illayraja. But we will also be giving tribute to Indian composers.
What is the music scene in Chennai like?
VS: The music scene is good but it’s for free. No one really wants to listen or buy independent music. We are more recognised as a band that plays Rehman and Illayraja hits. They want to connect with music that they already know; hence movie music is popular because it reaches a larger audience. We try to give these film numbers our own spin and play our versions.
What about releasing a CD?
VS: In India, releasing your music is really not going to take you anywhere. Big music brands are not supporting Indian music. Independent music is not playing on radio stations. If they have a slot that supports independent music then perhaps bands like us could get proper coverage.
Staccato will be performing at the London Olympics 2012 today.
GENRE: Contemporary classical and covers
Keywords: Chennai eclectic band