Music

Straight from the heart: Aritmija comes to India

From left, Tilen Stepišnik, Sabiha Khan, Vinayak Netke, Šemsudin Džopa

From left, Tilen Stepišnik, Sabiha Khan, Vinayak Netke, Šemsudin Džopa | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Language has no barrier when it comes to music because it is straight from the heart. “This is what ‘Aritmija’ means and it defines us to the last letter,” says Sabiha Khan, lead singer of the Indo-Slovenian fusion band Aritmija.

“If we were to identify the one defining element that qualifies us as being alive, it would be our heartbeat. Perhaps that is why we respond so instinctively to music — because its nature is that of life itself,” she says.

Originally formed by two Slovenian musicians, Tilen Stepišnik and Šemsudin Džopa, Aritmija has performed at over 500 concerts and music festivals across Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, U.K., Austria, and Uzbekistan in the last 15 years. In 2016, Aritmija collaborated with two classically trained musicians from Mumbai — vocalist Sabiha, and tabla player Vinayak Netke — resulting in a unique new sound palette for the band.

Committed to exploring unusual musical arrangements, Tilen’s and Šemsudin’s chord-play on the guitars, Sabiha’s vocals and Vinayak’s rendering of the tabla, skilfully combine traditional Balkan music with rock, jazz, Indian classical, Sufi and folk.

Šemsudin and Tilen, with Aritmija as their backbone have been involved in several music projects, collaborating with artists across the world.

Vinayak, a trained tabla player from Mumbai, also wears the hats of writer, composer, percussionist, lyricist and fusion artist. He writes and composes songs for the band, while Sabiha, a trained Indian semi-classical singer, brings a blend of Sufi renditions and Indian folk to the band.

“It all started in 2011 when I travelled to Australia for a music festival. There, I met Tilen and Šemsudin and other Slovenian artists, attended a few of their concerts as guests and realised we could form a band since Indian and Slovenian music blended so beautifully. Later, the collaboration happened, and our music fit like the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.”

“We realised how beautiful Slovenian music is and how blended it with our classical music and Aritmija was born,” says Sabiha, speaking on the phone from New Delhi.

Based out of Mumbai, Sabiha was in New Delhi for a program organised by the Embassy of Slovenia to celebrate 30 years of diplomatic Indo-Slovenian relations. She also sings in the Slovenian language. “It is very similar to Marathi, and I never experienced any difficulty singing in the language.”

After they collaborated in 2016, there was no looking back. Following their music tours in India, they travelled through Central Europe in 2017, collaborating with international artists at concerts and music festivals such as FIMU at Belfort France, Lent in Maribor Slovenia, and Jeff Festival in Switzerland, among others.

Originally formed by two Slovenian musicians, Tilen Stepišnik and Šemsudin Džopa, Aritmija has performed in over 500 concerts across the world

Originally formed by two Slovenian musicians, Tilen Stepišnik and Šemsudin Džopa, Aritmija has performed in over 500 concerts across the world | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The pandemic did not stop Aritmija from getting together online for concerts. She feels music transcends all boundaries. “People survived because of art and artists during the pandemic.”

Even though travelling and organising concerts can be expensive, she says in times of war and struggle, music speaks the language of love. “Traditional Slovenian music has songs of love, hope and positivity, and by blending that with Indian soulful music, we talk about peace in war-torn places,” she says.

In 2020, they realeased a single, ‘Nishaan’ for Syria.

Not conforming to any genre, Aritmija presents world music. Sabiha says the fact art brings together people from various places and backgrounds is a testament to its very nature. In the hope of providing a platform to independent artists in India, Sabiha says they have quite a few collaborations in the pipeline.

Aritmija performed in Delhi on April 25 at the India International Centre. They will perform on April 26 at Wadiyar Centre for Architecture, Mysuru, to be followed by two performances in Bengaluru (Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined and Bangalore International Centre) on April 27 and 28. They will perform in Mumbai (Finch, Harkat Café) on May 1 and 2.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 13, 2022 4:18:34 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/straight-from-the-heart-aritmija-comes-to-india/article65348791.ece