Swarathma, a folk fusion band, reveals their brand new album
Indian Ocean might be their “great inspiration”, but Swarathma has succeeded in finding its own voice. Winner of Radio City Live, this six-member band from Bangalore is now recording their debut album with EMI and Radio City.
Founded around four years ago, they came together in bits and pieces. The band’s genesis was through the meeting of Vasu (lead vocals, composer, rhythm guitar) and Pavan (percussion). They were then joined by Montry on drums, Jishnu on bass guitar, Sanjeev on violin and finally Varun on lead guitar.
None of them have trained professionally in music. But their diversity is their strength. If Varun is the young metal head, Sanjeev is the professional techie who started learning the Carnatic violin at 12 years. Pavan who can play the kanjira, the djembe and the dholak is also a photography major. Jishnu balances his academic and corporate career while never forfeiting music. Montry and Vasu hail from graphic design and film backgrounds, besides sharing a common love for creating an authentic sound. Their self-titled album consists of seven Hindi and one Kannada composition. These eight tracks have been chosen from 25 songs composed by Vasu. With 70 per cent of the recording complete, they hope to finish in a few months.
Taking a brief break during a recording, they talk about the coming album. Pavan reveals, “By default we play a lot of folk. We’ve all been exposed to many genres but what comes first to us is folk.” Montry adds, “Vasu’s voice is very earthy and raw. It is best suited for folk, actually.”
“We didn’t take topics that were not related to us,” fills in Varun. Their songs encompass the personal and the social. “Ee bhoomi”, the one Kannada song is an account of the earth becoming a paradise. “Pyaasi” is a river telling its own story and “Pate saare” deals with urbanisation.
For a group that has been established through live gigs how difficult is it to record an album? “It’s completely different,” says Jishnu. Recording they find is overtly technical that it borders on the mechanical. On stage, each performance is complete in itself. But recording for an album is an individual and often tedious process. They’re afraid that after releasing an album, they’ll have to tailor their live shows to their recorded sound.
A big thrill for this young group has been working with Amit the drummer from Indian Ocean. Montry says earnestly, “We respect Indian Ocean a lot. And it’s a great honour for us that Amit is working with us!” The group’s other recent victory has been the selection by John Leckie, one of British music’s most prolific producer. He will produce a few songs of four bands selected from India. And Swarathma is one of the chosen few.NANDINI NAIR