The Hindu November Fest

IndoSoul: Indian at its core and global in its sound

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IndoSoul’s Karthick Iyer on how the band blends Carnatic melodies with global sounds

IndoSoul is a band conscious of its Carnatic roots, but excited by the idea of experimenting with it. The Chennai-based five-piece band’s frontman Karthick Iyer, who is the lead violinist and vocalist, chats with MetroPlus.

The Long of It!

Can you break down the idea of IndoSoul for us; is it the name of the band or does it represent a sound?

IndoSoul started off as the name of our sound and went on to become the name of the band. For us, IndoSoul is about taking Indian classical music and blending it with other global genres, outside of the Indian stream and creating music that is Indian at its core and global in its sound.

As the head of the band, you have roots in the Carnatic tradition. Would you say that almost always, the starting point of your sound is that genre?

Whenever I have an idea for a song, it always starts from the Indian classical melody perspective or the kind of music that would mix well with Indian classical music. Having said that, being part of a band that is all about collaboration; each musician approaches the music with a sound that comes from their musical background. The combination of all these ideas is what makes the sound of IndoSoul.

You also work with a team that is exposed to different kinds of music. Talk to us a bit about how that assimilation happens. Is it a conscious process?

As I move forward with IndoSoul, it feels like there needs to be a consensus to our approach. Different people have different ideas and we go with what the majority view is. But there is always a conscious effort to lay down a framework before we work on a song. A song or an idea can be developed in hundreds of ways, each of which would make sense as a musical piece. It is therefore important to have a framework. Then, when we work on it, it is about taking the right ideas, rejecting some ideas that don’t apply to the framework that we have set and arriving at a consensus.

When ‘Saramati’, the Carnatic ragam, and one of the recent compositions in your album, Two Sides of Karma, acquires a global, lounge-like feel, how does it become accessible and easy on the ears of someone unfamiliar with the Carnatic form?

This totally depends on the listener. One is someone who likes Indian classical music, relates to the raga Saramati and hence, is able to enjoy it. The second is the type of listener that enjoys lounge music which has a laid-back feeling. Their familiarity comes from the “loungeness” of Saramati. The third is the group of people who just want to listen to fresh music with a different sound. The combination of Fernando Pessoa’s speech and Sri Pithukuli Murugados’ song, makes it something interesting, and so, appealing. Our music is multi-dimensional.

How long do you dabble in creating original, independent music and how different is this process from re-interpreting the music of others into the IndoSoul format?

It is entirely dependent on the song. There are songs that have come together in a matter of two days, like ‘Need I Say More’. But there are tracks like the title track of our third album, Two Sides of Karma, which took about four-five years where we started, took a break and completed it much later. So, it depends on the flow we get into while we’re jamming. It could take days, months or even years. When it comes to re-interpreting, it is a lot easier because the main melody is already there and then all we need to do is figure out how to dress it up in a way that represents IndoSoul.

IndoSoul, comprising Karthick Iyer (violin and vocals), Vikram Vivekanand (guitar), Sumesh Narayanan (mridangam and percussion), Ramkumar Kanakarajan (drums), and Reshwin Nishith (bass) will perform on November 16, 7.30 pm at The Music Academy.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 8:43:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/november-fest/indosouls-karthick-iyer-on-how-the-band-blends-carnatic-melodies-with-global-sounds/article25319624.ece

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