Four albums, 27 songs and 150 concerts across the globe… Oxygen has won the appreciation of music lovers. That’s not all. The band of passionate musicians has been together without a break-up for the last 10 years. What more can a band dream of?
Amateur musicians when they were Class 12 students in 2003, they turned professional a year later. Girinandh, then a budding musician and the band’s keyboard artiste, won a competition where the prize was the release of his own album. However, he chose to make the album with his friends. Thus was born Oxygen, comprising Girinandh’s childhood friends — K.S. Ramana on mridangam, Prithvi on drums, Karthick Iyer on violin, Harish on melodeon and Anirudh Athreya on kanjira — and together they came up with their first album Breath of Music . With an urge to be different, they came up with original compositions in the fusion music genre. The band has grown in strength with Bob and Bharath joining as guitar and bass guitar players, respectively.
Girinandh recalls, “Our album was well-received and we got opportunities to perform live at various sabhas and functions. People showed interest in producing our work and we launched three albums in our first three years. We were one of the lucky few to have won a reality band hunt and to have an album Ooh La La La produced by music maestro A R Rahman.
In spite of joining different colleges, the band members stuck together and even toured the U.K. to perform in front of thousands of people at the kumbha abhishekam of the Sri Venkateshwara Temple. Harish says, “We often jammed in Girinandh’s studio. Our friendship is one of the reasons we are still together.”
All of them say that they have grown as musicians over the years. While Karthick, trained in Carnatic violin, explored contemporary genres, Ramana, a mridangam artiste, learnt how to play the modular drums, darbuka and ghatam. Each of the members has the freedom to follow their own style and this has only helped the band in its creative ventures.
The success of the band has led the musicians to explore opportunities independently too. Karthick (has his own outfit — Karthick Iyer Live) and Harish have composed music for movies. While Girinandh has his own studio, Aura, and composes for movies too, K. S. Ramana has started composing songs and continues to perform with Carnatic singers.
To commemorate Oxygen’s tenth year, the band is coming out with another album in early 2014. Girinandh signs off, “One of the songs on our new album is a tribute to the noted band Shakti, which was one of the pioneers of fusion. We plan to have eight songs from different genres. We will be playing a few new songs for our forthcoming charity show.”
(Oxygen will perform at Muses 2013, a fund-raiser for the Kasiviswanathan Ambiga Kamalammal Charitable Trust, at the Museum Theatre on November 16, 6.30 p.m. For donor passes, contact 9003208260 and 9791071695).