Music

Astra 13 and its brand of music

Members of Astra 13

Members of Astra 13   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Kottayam-based Astra 13 loves to bridge the east and the west in their music

When Astra 13 came out with their video rock cover of the song ‘Kuttanadan Kayalile’ from the 2004 film Kazhcha last year, it made an instant impact on social media. Perhaps, it wasn’t a surprise considering the Kottayam-based rock/fusion band specialises in a tuneful “blend of Eastern and Western music.”

“Another one of our noted songs is titled ‘Ilayaraja vs Deep Purple’, which is a fusion of the Tamil maestro’s hit track ‘Raja rajathi raja’ and the English rock band’s ‘Black night’. Such fusion covers are our forte. We are currently working on an east-west-style remix of AR Rahman’s ‘Chikbuk rayile’,” says Deepak Nair, lead vocalist of Astra 13. Another fusion being experimented with is a remix of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ and the Malayalam song ‘Sadaa paalaya’ from Mr. Fraud.

A still from Astra 13’s rock cover of ‘Kuttanadan Kayalile’

A still from Astra 13’s rock cover of ‘Kuttanadan Kayalile’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Formed in 2013 by the group’s bass guitarist GKP Dileep, also the band’s manager, Astra 13 pushes its boundaries by also belting out “pure rock covers” of some rock/metal heavyweights such as Deep Purple, Metallica, Motorhead and so on in their gigs.

Changing with the times

“Back when we started, our central idea was to promote rock in its true style. However, with the mushrooming of bands that incorporated a naadan touch to their music, the rock music scene started changing in Kerala. Remixes started becoming popular and we decided to change with the times,” explains Deepak. Other band members are Bharath Sajikumar (vocals), Anit P Joy (keyboard), Jeo Jacob (drums) and Ebin Sagar (lead guitarist), while Akhil K Vijay joins in when an extra vocalist is required.

The band has brought out two originals in English: ‘Hope some day you will be mine’, which is a hard rock number, and ‘I’m a superstar’, a progressive rock track. They have performed in Music Mojo on Kappa TV, and for the music show Isai Unplugged on Zee Tamil, while becoming one of the finalists in the annual music event Decibel organised by Radio Mango in 2015.

Dileep says the band’s strength is in being able to smoothly shift between genres depending on the audience.

“In our shows, we try not to stick to any particular genre though fusion and progressive are our dominant style. We mix it with, say, metal, rock and so on,” he explains. Astra 13 counts Deep Purple and American progressive metal band Dream Theatre as among their major influences. Apart from an out-and-out rock play list, some of their all-time favourite live covers include Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo soldier’, Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ and Queen’s ‘Crazy little thing called love’ for their “commercial performances.”

With an east-west bridge, Deepak says during its formation, the members were particular about the band’s name ringing a bell about their style of music too. “We wanted a name that would strike a chord in both Malayalam and English. In Sanskrit, ‘astra’ signifies a mighty weapon and in English, a star. Well, the ‘13’ is a mark of the year the ensemble was born,” he says.

Astra 13 will be performing in the city this weekend as part of a private event.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:20:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/astra-13-band-on-its-brand-of-music/article28895809.ece

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