Sounds of the wind

One with the world Prem Joshua is now out with “Prem Joshua and Band in Concert”

One with the world Prem Joshua is now out with “Prem Joshua and Band in Concert”  

“Fusion guru” Prem Joshua tells Nandini Nair about his uniquely Indian ways

“I always say I’m an Indian accidentally born in Germany.” It is with this conviction that musician Prem Joshua has created his own “Indo-fusion” music. Joshua and his band members — Chintan, Raul and Satgyan — were in the Capital recently for a performance in the Vasant Vihar lawns and for the release of “Prem Joshua and Band in Concert” by Music Today. With this twelfth album, his music sees a change from a laidback new age sound to a more rhythmical world music. His musical and spiritual journey has taken him across Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan and India. He has spent more than a dozen years in India. But while travelling nine months of the year, he has a home in Goa, safely tucked away from the crowds.

Live album

This latest album differs from previous ones because many of the tracks have been picked from live gigs, which have then been recorded in a studio. Joshua recounts, “It’s a big challenge (to record live gigs).” He adds with a hearty laugh, “You’ve to play very well.” But having recorded 11 studio albums in India, he felt the time was right for a live one. The album includes “Joshua Classics”, which are the band’s most popular numbers, a few rearrangements and two previously un-released tracks.

With Prem Joshua’s music based on the sitar, harmonium and tabla, he is familiar with the possibilities and intricacies of Hindustani music. He has learnt with sitar masters Ustad Usman Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar. In this new album he weaves in Carnatic music, since he finds the “veena is amazing” and is “in love with the South Indian violin”. He elaborates, “I love but I don’t understand Carnatic music that much. My knowledge in Hindustani is more important.”

With fusion being the sound of today, Joshua says his music is a combination of Indian classical music with jazz. He finds that the two are linked in terms of improvisation, rhythm and melody. What he enjoys the most is that like with the ragas, jazz too provides freedom within the rules.

Having produced music for movies in Germany, Italy and the U.S., Joshua enjoys doing music for movies. But he is wary about Bollywood projects. He asserts, “If there’s an offer that doesn’t ask us to commercialise our sound — we will consider it.”

A gifted composer and live musician, Joshua enjoys the technicalities of performing in a studio and the dynamics of performing live. He says of performing live, “There is an inexplicable magic where the audience becomes one with the musician. That’s something only music can do. It doesn’t happen in every concert. Concerts where it does happen are the most magical.” He felt this magic most recently at a concert in Bulgaria. While initially wary about performing in a new terrain, he was overwhelmed by the performance.

With “many, many new tracks” in mind, Joshua says gladly, “The problem is not with inspiration, it’s with time.” He hopes to release his next album, a studio project, by the end of the year.

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