Carnatic covers Music

Despacito’s desi flair

Mahesh Raghvan rocks out his Indian pride in a cover of the viral Daddy Yankee track

From Adele’s Hello to the epic soundtrack of Game of Thrones, 26-year-old Mahesh Raghvan continues to infuse Carnatic wonder into popular mainstream hits. Most of his tracks have garnered over a million views each on social media platforms, and now he’s also now touched on the reigning pop number Despacito by Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber and Luis Fonso.

This fresh version has come at just the right time; Despacito, as catchy as it is, has frankly over-saturated music platforms. UK-based The Fusion Project members Praveen Prathapan and Janan Sathiendran have also chimed in on the cover. Praveen, also known as The Flute Guy, injects memorable melodies while Janan The Tablaist gives the beat a local resonance. Even without lyrics, the tune itself is quite memorable, putting an instant rhythm in your step. Mahesh explains, “So Praveen contacted me, saying we should definitely try this. We always wanted to do a number one hit and when we came across Despacito, we thought it would be impossible because of the Spanish repertoire. Finalising the track took about a month and a half and it was finally ready about two weeks ago. These projects are a lot of fun and we love seeing how people react and respond. There’s no nervousness so to speak, but rather excitement prior to releasing them.”

With an aim of showing Carnatic music in a way that would appeal to younger people, Mahesh is pretty much already accomplishing it. On YouTube, the track has received over 130,000 views, and is nearing a million on Facebook after its Sunday upload.

His latest release FLAIR - Carnatic Music 2.0, is a project that presents Carnatic music compositions in a modern style, by melding them with elements of contemporary electronic music.

“Indian classical music is an important part of my work and life that comes with a set of rules. Working with the raga system, it’s all based on series of notes — and when we deviate from those notes, that’s pretty much breaking the rules. It’s always a question of aesthetics; for it to be classical music, you need to play it as such. So we always stick to that rule and we don’t compromise on that. Additionally, even if I play it on a electronic instrument that has nothing to do with Indian music, the rules still apply.”

Mahesh, who holds a Masters in Digital Composition and Performance, is naturally big on tech. He uses a spectrum of apps and hardware to create his music; GeoShred, an app with a physical modelling synthesis helps the user achieve realistic guitar sounds that bend, stretch and manipulate. He also uses a CME XKey Air keyboard, complete with traditional synth latency specs. “It took me like a year to get a hang of it, to get it to work the way I wanted it to. Using all this technology to enhance classical music with electronic instruments is a great way to exert myself upon an instrument.”

With a plethora of projects, he’s definitely not slowing down anytime soon. “I’m working on IndianRaga’s fellowship program in the UK, so I’m creating a lot of pieces for them, including a set of new covers. I’ll also be engaging in collaborations with up-and-coming artists soon. There’s a lot of Carnatic music that’s popular at the moment, so that’s great to see.”

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:23:04 AM |

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