Music for the soul

The Indie 100 project saw talented youngsters from the city come together to record an album

June 30, 2016 03:51 pm | Updated September 16, 2016 05:04 pm IST - Chennai

Snapshots from the recording

Snapshots from the recording

Music is a universal language, crossing borders and cultures to fuel its creation. In that spirit of collaborative art, the Indie 100 project, initiated by the Queensland University of Technology, was brought to Chennai as part of the IndiEarth XChange 2015, in collaboration with EarthSync. Through a selection process requiring people to send in original work, the project sought to find young Indian musicians with a diverse array of sounds and experience. Sonya Mazumdar, CEO of EarthSync, said, “The partnership was about youth outreach and education.” Of all the entries received, 10 bands were finally selected, many of whom are associated with Chennai, and invited to Vivanta by Taj to record their tracks.

Renowned producers from Australia, Yanto Browning and Lachlan “Magoo” Goold, were involved in the recording sessions, and worked closely on the mixing and mastering of the tracks on the project, with a professional studio set up at the hotel.

“As students of sound engineering, we were very excited to test some of their mics and recording equipment,” says Sharanya Natrajan of Soulnest. Along with Shivangi Amrit, the other half of the group, the duo recorded ‘Kaahe Bisrave/Ain’t Nobody,’ a bilingual fusion track, with Sharanya singing the English lyrics, and Shivangi in Hindi. Having put together the performing musicians in just a couple of days, the two were nervous, but Sharanya says, “The process was very easy, and they {Yanto and Magoo} were very encouraging.” She adds that they were excited about the Indian instruments used, particularly the tabla.

The sentiment is echoed by Antony Kevin Fernando, vocalist and lead guitarist for Vertigo: “The producers could understand what we were going for with our song.” Their dominant sound is electronic indie rock, as on their recorded track, ‘Puzzle’, about “a guy trying to woo this girl,” Kevin adds with a chuckle.

The project was also an important opportunity for some of the bands. Bonny, the guitarist of Aver, says, “We’re a new band, so it is a big opportunity to have this album sold internationally,” adding, that “the quality of sound was amazing.” Their song, ‘Seven’, is inspired by Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. Bonny says of the tool-inspired rock song, “We wanted to bring some polyrhythm techniques, so all the instruments were played in different time signatures.”

Akash Donald of Midnight Rush feels similarly, saying they were “excited and scared” to record with producers such as Yanto Browning and Magoo.

Although their song, ‘Memories’, can be broadly classified as jazz, he says, “We brought our own personalities and influences into the music to create something different. We tried to capture that era, the jazz vibe and complemented that with our playing.”

The album features some experienced artistes from the local scene, such as Beon Surrao, who recorded, ‘Stellar’, a bilingual track — English and Malayalam — as an “on the spot collaboration,” where he “wanted to get a bunch of artistes on board.” He said of the mood in the studio, “It was very artistic and positive, and the track came out really well.”

Kaber, of the songwriter-producer duo Kaber + Tenma, said their studio experience helped them make the best of this project, and it was also a great, collaborative process, resulting in a stirring Tamil ballad.

Among the youngest artistes on the album, Varshita Ramesh recorded an acoustic version of her original, ‘Call Me in the Morning’, which she describes as “a really fun and energetic song that’s got a catchy chorus.” She says, “The opportunity to have the producers add their own dash of colour to {the song} was fantastic,” adding, “I had a great time recording it because the entire crew was so welcoming and encouraging.”

With the final mixes and masters coming together to form a world music experience, the Indie 100 Chennai project is an exciting prospect for its participants.

The album is out worldwide on

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