When four people from different backgrounds and influences came together, the result was Emergence. Violinist-vocalist Karthick Iyer tells Harin Chandra about the band’s journey so far.

Emergence’s essence lies in the natural evolution of music contributed by four people from different cultures; each with his own brand and philosophy of music.

Formed in 2006, with Krishna, Mishko, Kirupa, Lowell Harrison (Drummer) the band cut their first album, Who am I, with saxophonist Matthew Littlewood.

The band went through some changes in the line-up in 2008 with Karthick Iyer (violinist/ singer) coming in for the England tour and the Glastonbury festival. Karthick went on to become a permanent member in the band. After their second album, Chosen by God, they went on to travel and play in India and then to U.S. to play in the Maximum India Festival in the prestigious Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

The making of the debut album…

The studio experience is always different from live gigs. We decided to approach both albums differently for the CD version.

Listening to a live concert and listening to an audio CD at home or in a car are such different experiences that we decided to add a lot of extra elements and layers in the recordings.

Hence the recorded songs like “Nambikkai” and “Pasumai”, although similar in spirit, have a very different colour in the albums when compared to the live ones. Also to hear the songs back in such precision and detail inside a studio gave rise to different ideas for the songs and in all, the process was really a fun one.

Pulse of the audience across the various venues you performed…

The audience always wonders at the freshness and uniqueness of the Emergence sound. Brought about by the natural evolution of the four musicians from different musical styles together the sound of Emergence is truly unique. People say they have never heard such a sound in a band before. 

Tell us something about the band members…

Krishna Mckenzie is originally from Portsmouth, England, and grew up on the British Pop culture. He has been living in Auroville for 19 years and has his own organic farm there. The lyrics that he writes have references to his experiences in life, philosophy and love.

I play for Carnatic kutcheris and record for the popular Tamil film industry. I would like to think that I bring the Indian essence to Emergence with my Tamil vocals and Carnatic violin solos.

Mishko M’ba, originally from France, has been living in Puducherry for over 10 years. He has played for over 40 years with artists from all over the world. He brings a jazz and funk influence to the band.

Rahul Gopalan, our latest entrant, has played in some major rock acts in India and brings a very energetic rock and pop feeling to our songs.

Does Emergence believe in spreading a philosophy?

Emergence stands for communicating what is within. And hence the philosophy from within comes out. It is evident in the lyrics of the song. Makes reference to diverse topics like needless wars, the silence within, the freshness of the ever giving earth, love besides other abstract philosophical themes.

How is Emergence different from other bands?

We don't look towards western music to contemporise Indian music. We sort of reverses this process. It has musicians from other parts of the world coming to India, making India their home and talking about their experiences in life through music. It’s still an Indo-western collaboration, but through the eyes of four completely different musicians. The English-Tamil fusion is very original and fresh.

What was it like to perform at the World Tamil Conference?

That was a really exciting moment. The crowd loved it. Towards the end, all of them were on their feet, clapping and singing along. 

A message to music lovers…

I don’t know what to say. We are part of the same club and it’s such a natural thing to get carried away by good music.

To our fans, I say thank you for your support, and stay tuned for more! 

GENRES: British Pop/Jazz/Carnatic Classical

FOUNDED: 2006

LINE-UP: Krishna Mckenzie (Vocalist, Guitartist), Karthick Iyer (Vocalist, Violinist), Mishko M’ba (Bassist), Rahul Gopalan (Drummer)

BIG MOMENT: Playing at the Maximum India Festival at Kennedy Center for Performing Arts (Washington), Glastonbury (UK).