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Updated: September 3, 2010 18:55 IST

Old Sanskrit in new bottle

Shalini Shah
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BAND STAND Yodhakaa is all set for the release of their first album. Photo: Special Arrangement.
The Hindu
BAND STAND Yodhakaa is all set for the release of their first album. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Contemporary Indian music band Yodhakaa to perform in the Capital as part of The Park's New Festival.

Whatever you do, do not call Yodhakaa a ‘fusion' band — contemporary Indian music is more like their speciality. The five-year-old band, which has created a name for itself through its unique use of ancient Sanskrit slokas in a new sound, doesn't like being categorised under a specific genre either. As founder member ‘Darbuka' Siva says, “Our USP is that we don't sound like anything. I usually ask people ‘Who do we sound like?' and that's what even they say. We're not keen on adding a genre to our music. Adding a genre is not going to do anything for your music. Our music is just Yodhakaa's music; our own sound.”

The Capital will get a taste of the band's sound at The Park's New Festival tomorrow. Organised by Prakriti Foundation, this would be the Festival's fourth edition.

Yodhakaa's line-up comprises Darbuka Siva on percussion, V. Pradeep Kumar on vocals and slide guitar, Donan Murray on guitar, Subhiksha Rangarajan on vocals and percussion and Arvind Murali on bass guitar.

While the band, with a different line-up, was formed in 2005, the thought of incorporating Sanskrit slokas came along the way. “We were a world music band when we formed,” recalls Siva. “Soon, we actually got bored of music done by others and we wanted something that would represent our culture. When we were looking for good material to work on, we came across Sanskrit slokas; they are traditional and old. They represent the whole of India and work in every part of the country. It is more about the sound of the language, the phonetics, than the lyrics.”

October will see the release of the band's first album, an eponymous one, which will consist of eight tracks and two radio edits.

“We've taken Sanskrit slokas from different timeframes and themes. Some of them are so old that we're trying to research when they were written and by whom. We've given it a contemporary arrangement. We have Latin influences, influences from Flamenco, jazz, funk and blues. In terms of the music, we've kept it completely open,” Siva elaborates.

At a time when bands are slowly inching towards making their tracks available online for free, how feasible is a physical album? “In India, most radio stations do not play the kind of music we do. They mostly play Bollywood, and there is little or no non-film music. But we're not competing with films. We do believe that if your album is really worth it, people will buy it,” says Siva. Live performances, there, come in handy. “We're trying to sell our album on live shows. The mission is to do as many live performances as possible — it takes care of marketing and distribution at one go. If people buy it off the racks, it's an added bonus,” he adds.

Invitations to perform at world music festivals abroad will keep them busy in the near future. “We want to take music from India outside, so people know what kind of contemporary music is coming from the country.

The impression is that Indian music is either the sitar and tabla or Bollywood. We want to change that,” Siva says.

Yodhakaa will perform at Aqua, The Park, at 7 p.m. tomorrow

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