Max Clouth Clan on integrating Indian and jazz music

Members of Max Clouth Clan

Members of Max Clouth Clan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

German band Max Clouth Clan on their special vibe with India

The members of Max Clouth Clan are busy setting up their instruments for the evening concert. Though a German band whose music is rooted in jazz, there are also strains of Indian, rock, electronic and even West Asian music in them.

“Each of us are fond of various genres of music and this reflects in our work. For instance, Martin is into electronic music, while Markus likes West Asian music. Our music ultimately develops organically from our interactions and Indian music has a predominance in our work. I am trying to create contemporary instrumental music that transforms elements of Indian classical music into Western stylistics, especially European jazz,” says Max Clouth as he takes a coffee break with his band mates Winfried Rimbach-Sator, Markus Wach and Martin Standke.

The leader of the four-year-old music troupe, Max’s love affair with India began after listening to John McLaughlin’s band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which fused electric jazz and rock with Eastern and Indian influences. Fascinated by Indian beats, the guitarist from Frankfurt spent four years training in classical music under renowned tabla and sitar artiste Nayan Ghosh. To capture the tones of an Indian sarod on his guitar, Max got a friend of his to make him a double-necked guitar.

Returning to Frankfurt after learning “all about ragas and talas”, he decided to start a band that would play music reflecting his experiences in India. “But, as I was away from Germany for so many years, I didn’t know any local musicians. I then decided to try the numbers of random musicians I looked up in a phone book. Martin was the first person I called,” says Max.

Martin smiles when he says though his knowledge of Indian music was limited at the time, he was enthralled by Max’s idea of infusing Indian flavours with jazz.

All the band members are in their thirties. While their interests in music may differ, it’s their love for it that binds them together. “Also, the fact that we are nearly always together as we travel to various places with our music. The experiences one goes through and shares through travel tend to bring you together,” says Martin.

Music festivals, they say, has helped them popularise their works. “Music festivals not only draw in the crowd but they also help us reach a wider spectrum of audience, especially the youth. The success of an individual concert depends on the organisers and on how well they market the event,” explains Markus.

The band is out with its second album, ‘Kamaloka’, which features jazz rock with an Indian touch. The members describe the album as being similar to a road movie where the protagonists travel to distant lands and engage with its people and land. “We have collaborated with Indian musicians such as Varijashree Venugopal, Sriparna Nandi and Ishaan Ghosh for ‘Kamaloka’. For us, as artistes, combining both worlds is exciting,” says Markus.

Max Clouth Clan work on their music pieces as a team.“For instance, I had the idea of a ballad in my mind, a gentle, melodic piece. However, as we started jamming, with everyone’s ideas flowing in, we came out with an energetic piece. That’s why everyone contributes significantly to the final form of the pieces,” says Max.

According to Max, ‘Kamaloka’ shows their progression as a band.

“I think we were still trying to discover our voice in our first album ‘Return Flight’. But then, I feel, each recording shows one’s growth as an artiste. I am sure that in our next album, our music will sound different as we continue discovering our voice. The (recent) tour will deepen our influences and the bond with India, its people and musicians. It’ll also hopefully reflect in the songs and the sound of our next album,” says Max.

Max Clouth Clan was in the city in connection with a tour of India, courtesy Goethe-Zentrum.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:39:05 PM |

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