The musical journey of Indo-flamenco pioneer

Santhosh Chandran is like a rolling stone. In his musical career spanning a few decades, he has shifted genres effortlessly a mindboggling number of times. Even as he scales new heights in Indo-flamenco, a genre he has pioneered, he is thinking of composing a purely western classical album in the future.

Though he was destined to be a musician, guitar was nowhere in the picture when he took his baby steps into the music world as an eight-year-old. Living in a house where the Kathakali music of his grandfather blended seamlessly with the Carnatic music of his father, a variety of genres seeped into his mind.

“I was sent to learn tabla but I became fascinated with guitar and started learning from Badarudeen sir,” says Mr. Chandran, who is in the city for a two-day guitar workshop at Technopark.

By the age of 12, he was accompanying various professional artistes. Following his schooling, more exploration of genres happened as he shifted base to Bangalore where he discovered rock and metal. “There I joined the band ‘7th Galaxy.’ Before long, I was back in Kerala, playing with drummer John Thomas. I also played with 13 AD when their lead guitarist left.”

The years spent in Muscat saw him moving closer to his current genre of choice — flamenco, though it came after a few years of playing jazz with pianist John Hardie.

“One of the best things was the four years I spent with the African jazz singer Salha Abusaidy. We toured non-stop and played in places such as Lebanon. The Indo-flamenco style was developed during this time, though I did not call it that. Remo Fernandes called up one day and said he likes my Indo-flamenco style and thus that genre got a name.”

Following this, the call from the band Motherjane came when their guitarist left and it was time for Santosh to explore progressive rock. Along with it, he has been performing as a session guitarist for musicians such as M. Jayachandran, Deepak Dev, and Bijibal.

“Right now, I am working on my solo album ‘Take 9’ and also dabbling in some teaching at my school, Guitarra Academy”