Music

A different music

When two German brothers and two Swiss ones flew in to Chennai for their maiden Indian concert recently, they did not expect to be performing for school children. “We were told the audience would be ‘students’, we just did not expect the students to be so young,” laughs Don Caramelo, one half of the German rock duo Raggabund. It was hardly an issue: the band drives everyone from youngsters to near-centennials equally wild with their music, when on tour.

Caramelo and his brother Paco Mendoza were on a South Asian tour with two brothers Luca “De Luca” Bochicchio and Michele “Mikey Board” Bochicchio, of the Swiss band The Dubby Conquerors. Together, the four create music of an eclectic kind, unrestricted by any one genre, freely exploring pertinent human experiences, yet making it a point to keep things positive.

Spreading positivity

“We really think that this world doesn’t need any more negative energy,” explains Mendoza, adding, “We try to look upon different things that concern us, but we try to put out positive solutions and spread positive vibes. That’s why we try to go on Caribbean rhythms, because they are really positive.”

Raggabund uses a mix of musical styles: Caribbean, hip hop, rock, and electronic and Latin elements. “We use reggae as a glue to hold this all together,” says Caramelo. Formed in 2000, the band has released four albums and been on numerous tours across different continents till date. Yet, the South Asian experience, from doing a concert in Colombo to chatting in a radio show and sipping on chai in an alley in Karachi, was completely new to them.

Their tryst with India, however, goes back to a time before they even set foot on the land. While on tour in Vietnam, they came across the Kolkata-based Zoo, whose members were on a tour of their own, and struck a chord. The collaboration didn’t stop with the tour. “We exchanged vocals via the Internet, from studio to studio. That resulted in song that came out in their new album. They sent us a link to an article about it, and suddenly we saw our faces splashed on Rolling Stone India!” recalls Caramelo.

Collaborating and creating while on tour has always been a big part of Raggabund’s process. In Chennai, for instance, they had an exciting session with the Tamil rock band Oorka, and most of their work with the Bochicchio brothers takes place on tour.

“They live in Switzerland, we live in Munich. It’s only on tour that we get together. All the songs that we wrote together were born on tour,” says Mendoza, which is why they make it a point to travel with all equipment, from recording mics and sound software like Logic, to graphic design and video editing tools. Caramelo also designs T-shirt graphics, and sends them to organisers whenever they ask for it. The team has also cooked up radio jingles when asked to. The video for one of their recent songs was also shot while on tour, and includes visuals from their travels across South America. “The song, called ‘Chilling’, has shots of Argentina, Brazil, Peru…” counts Mendoza, his voice trailing off as he thinks of all the countries that have touched their music. “Just three or four flights ago, Michele was working on beats for a new song he had created in China, in the airplane,” says Mendoza, laughing as he recalls how odd the other passengers found his behaviour.

“We always have a tight programme, but we make it a point to find the time to vibe,” says Caramelo, and the duo agree that the sights and sounds that they experience on tour influence a lot of their music, as do the people they come across and “especially the rhythms that we hear”.

(In this series we feature people who continue to work as they travel.)

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 9:33:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/german-rock-band-raggabund-in-chennai/article19961214.ece

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