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Drums of change

Vivek Rajagopalan

Vivek Rajagopalan  

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In a world of nonsensical religious fights, I believe that you can do with music all that you do with prayer

Vivek Rajagopalan is a magician-musician who seamlessly juggles disparate sounds. A Carnatic musician trained in the mridangam from childhood, Vivek broke into the alternate music scene with Moving Images , an album that took his Carnatic roots and wound them around a solid drum-and-bass spine with some flourishes of Hindustani, jazz and electronic sounds stitched in for good measure. Now midway through his latest album Music Prayer Rhythm People, Vivek has shifted sounds to a far quieter, more meditative, “pure and raw” texture epitomised in the album’s just-released single ‘Music and Prayer’. At the IndiEarth XChange 2014 stage, Vivek will perform recent pieces from the album, as well as reworked versions of his earlier compositions.

Tell us about the tracks on Music Prayer Rhythm People.

My last album had a strong electronic element and since then, I’ve been searching for a new, more original sound. I wanted to feature different voices from across the globe, which reflect the different influences I draw from now — a sort of ‘docu-album’ that tracks my life journeys. And this album does just that. One of the tracks, ‘I Will Break Cups’, features a Greek vocalist, another named ‘Chakita Dang’ is a bilingual song performed by K.C. Loy. I will be releasing two more tracks on this album in January, one named ‘Munyati’ that features an Arabic classical vocalist from Beirut, Georges Nehme, and Thaye, a Malayalam folk song featuring playback singer from Kerala, Rashmi Satheesh.

What is the evolution of this album’s new sound?

The central idea of the album is to make music a form of prayer that can bring rhythm to the lives of people, hence the album name. In a world of nonsensical religious fights, I believe that you can do with music all that you do with prayer, if it comes from an internal, personal, pure moment. ‘Music and Prayer’ was recorded live with a vocalist singing an azan, a sarod player and I on the mridangam, in one long, flowing take, because with this album I wanted to capture those pure, raw moments, where the music takes over and you lend yourself to it, which only happen on stage.

This is me moving away from the processed, edit sounds of electronic music. There may be a track or two added before the album is wrapped up.

As a trained Indian classical percussionist, did making the transition to playing drum-n-bass driven Western music come easy?

I get asked this often because people think the odd time signatures in music come because I’m a mridangist. But before I began making electronic music, I had to unlearn a lot of what I knew as a Carnatic music accompanist. I had to study music theory and harmony anew before I began music production with a more global, world sound. This was a long, slow process. The music I make now usually stems from a bass line in my head and then I put the harmonies, vocals and all else in.

Vivek Rajagopalan performs at The Park on the IndieEarth Stage at 8 p.m. tonight.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 6:27:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/interview-with-vivek-rajagopalan/article6661778.ece

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