A world of music

When German fusion guitarist Ed DeGenaro came to teach music production at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM) about five years ago, he liked India so much that he kept coming back. He wanted to collaborate with artists here to take his music forward, and that’s how the all-faculty band, Electrik Circus, came to be, featuring Vice President of the academy, Shyam Rao on drums and Hindustani vocal teacher Ujjayinee Roy as lead vocalist.

The band, which plays fusion music — adding Indian vocal styles to jazz, blues and rock fusion — was formed in 2011. “Ed can play a fretless guitar. He’s played with some of the greatest drummers in the world such as Dave Weckl and Marco Minnemann. For me, it was a challenge to fill their shoes and replicate what they do,” says Shyam, and adds that vocalist Ujjayinee brings in a Hindustani element to the sound. “Her voice is used as a harmonic and melodic instrument.”

The trio have collaborated with different Indian and International artists along the way, including tabla players, DJs, carnatic vocalists and percussionists. In 2013, they released their first album Holiday in Madras which was coloured with influences of living in this city from a foreigner’s point of view. For the album, they collaborated with international musicians such as American bassist Ric Fierabracci, German drummer Benny Greb and record producer Anton Pukshnsky, who’s won three Grammys, among others. “All these people are big names in fusion internationally.

It’s a challenge to play with them; you get to expand your artistry and become better as a musician,” says Ujjayinee. Shyam agrees: “Sonically and musically, playing with international artists opens your mind to the sort of music you won’t have access to while doing local collaborations. And working with someone’s original music gives you compositional space and freedom, which is different from playing derivative rock music.”

The band has toured the country, playing in popular venues such as Blue Frog in Bombay, B Flat in Bangalore, Vidya Mandir auditorium in Kolkata and have taken the stage several times in Chennai.

“Since all of us have been busy with the school, we haven’t been actively performing lately,” says Shyam, but reveals that they are currently working on their second album.

The school, which educated many famous bands in the country such as The Family Cheese, Something Relevant, Run Pussy Run and individual artists like Achyuth Jayagopal who has performed with The Raghu Dixit Project, Nirvan Pareva who’s played alongside the Colonial Cousins and Anuraag Saikia, who has won national awards, offers diploma courses in music. Located in the outskirts of the city, students of the academy spend their time revelling in music, discovering sounds and forming new collaborations.

Electrik Circus perform on Friday, May 15, 2015, featuring Abhishek Dey on bass and Kavyesh Kaviraj on Keys, as part of the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music’s 9th graduation concert at Rani Seethai Hall from 5 p.m. onwards. For passes, contact 8939992665

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 2:53:52 AM |

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