MUSIC Carnatic strains, intricate drumming patterns, and a dash of rock — Agam, the city-based band, weaves a complex musical melange
I n an era where music has transcended and broken away from the traditional, certain exceptional bands still choose to delve into their roots and revolutionise the classical. Bangalore-based contemporary carnatic rock act, Agam is one among these with an eclectic soundscape and ingenious originality.
Bundling a versatile hybrid blend of carnatic and western hues with elaborate rhythmic patterns into a niche genre they can well call their own, Agam has revolutionised the face of carnatic rock today.
Speaking to The Hindu Metro Plus before their recent gig at the Hard Rock Café, Agam share about music and where it's brought them so far.
Fresh out of college in 2003, the band initially comprised vocalist and violinist Harish Sivaramakrishnan and drummer Ganesh Ram who were later joined by the keyboardist Swamy Seetharaman, moulding Agam in a fresh way. The all techie band now has guitarists Praveen Kumar and Suraj Satheesh, bass guitarist Vignesh Lakshminarayanan and percussionist Shiva Nagarajan.
Why carnatic rock? Ganesh says the music discovered them rather than them constructing it. “Some of us had the classical carnatic influence while others carried in the western impression and it culminated into this experimental genre,” he shares. Agam also weave Sufi soulfulness and local Tamil folk into their radical repertoire.
Deriving its origin from the ancient Tamil word ‘Agam' which translates to ‘inner self', the meaning has become synonymous with the band over the years. “First suggested by Swamy, the name is a reflection of us and our growth, both individually and as musicians in the band. Each one of us has brought something special to the group and added that unique essence to our collective passions, transforming our musicality,” shares Harish.
On the threshold of their full-fledged debut album coming this June, Agam brews tasteful harmonies of diverse influences, ranging from jazz, blues, heavy metal and carnatic music among others, concocting a soul-stirring mélange in their music. Their prodigious guitar riffs, intricate keyboard and violin technique backed by complex drumming patterns form the crux of Agam today.
Acclaimed as the best band in the 2007 band hunt reality show ‘Oohlalala' by A.R Rahman, the ensemble has headlined numerous hotspots across the country and risen to new heights since.
Being around on the music scene for a while, Agam claims to be in the right place at the right time. “Five years from now we see ourselves going international, purely on the worth of our music. We would continue to make live music, improvise and push ourselves deeper into discovering our soundscape,” he ruminates.
Agam also joins hands with guest artistes and NGOs in Samaritan ventures of producing music and performing live shows for charitable efforts such as raising funds for cancer patients and the Bihar flood relief. “It's the most we can do for the people around us. The joy we bring despite the short shelf life makes the opportunity worth every effort. Every song we endeavour has a life of its own,” says a jubilant Harish.
ALLAN MOSES R.