Chennai-born Nonviolenze’s début album is an amalgam of music and art

The lockdown has been tough on the music community, but out of that has come a new breed of musicians who are finally breathing life into a long-dormant dream. Houston-based Shri Baratan, aka Nonviolenze, is one of them.

In 2012, Chennai-born Shri formed Nonviolenze, a creative studio conceptualised to “tie the music to a visual experience... tying the painting to the music, to the poetry,” and that is when he started putting out singles. But only in 2020 did he release his debut album, Ghosts Of War, which is about “politics, religious warfare, and how people have lost track of these issues, and should do their civic duties unconditionally”.

A dream come true

The album came together seamlessly, particularly over the “quiet time” of the pandemic, recalls Shri.

The album took a year and a half, starting in early 2019 and Shri finished all the technical recording in March, while mastering took three months. Owing to the pandemic, Shri had to undertake multiple roles, including recording; it was a “huge climb”, he admits. He is motivated by the fact that “people are always starving for good music.” He is quick to point out that Ghosts Of War is not just a musical experience but a multi-sensory one. Living in Texas, an arts and culture hotspot of the US, certainly catalyses this.

Shri, who moved from Chennai to the US in the early ‘90s as a software expert, says, “Over the years, I’ve written close to 80 songs, 100 if I include the instrumentals.” The solo album comprises nine melodies including ‘Queen’, ‘Tree’, ‘Matrix’, and ‘Ghosts Of War.’

Cover art for ‘Ghosts Of War’

Cover art for ‘Ghosts Of War’   | Photo Credit: Nonviolenze

When it came to being a producer-songwriter for Ghosts Of War, his power over the album’s journey was important as he has seen how a musician’s vision often gets diluted as it passes through different hands during development. “There’s nothing wrong with that,” he clarifies, “but when you have a different point of view from someone else, the music is not able to go exactly where you initially envisioned it to.” The multi-hyphenate shares he had Grammy-winning Jorge Santos to do the mastering for Ghosts Of War. The working relationship took its time to suit both their wavelengths and Shri is happy with the outcome, having learned a lot from Jorge.

Shri speaks about his rhythm style and harmonics as something unique from what he is sure many have heard over the years. “There’s a lot of harmonic work, and the combination of the electric guitar accents that come in with the acoustics was kind of different — I haven’t heard anything like that before.”

The 55-year-old has been nurturing his love for music since he was 15, and is proud of his achievements so far.

He says age should never hold someone back if their dream is the ultimate mission for happiness. He shares he has another album coming out in a couple of weeks. “You have to be patient with yourself, and you have to put a lot — time and dedication — into it.”

Ghosts Of War can be found on Spotify and YouTube.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 6:45:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/nonviolenze-chennai-born-shri-baratan-interview-ghosts-of-war/article32892152.ece

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