Dynamic duo, Hari and Sukhmani, have taken their eclectic folk-electronica tunes across he globe. Juanita Kakoty talks to this talented pair about their latest stint with the show ‘SoundTrek’
The young and ambitious duo, Hari and Sukhmani, seek to take Punjabi folk music from the yesteryears into the future, from New Delhi to New York City. One can catch them on SoundTrek, the travel-based music show on Fox Traveller. The show has been presented as ‘the ultimate Indian jam session on Indian television’ and airs every Thursday and Friday at 10 pm. Breathing freshness in how ‘travel’ is viewed, Fox Traveller brings to the audience an exhilarating mix of styles, cultures and personalities; a cross-country journey which merges different music genres.
Travel & music
“We were approached by blueFROG who are producing the show,” say the duo about their association with the show. “We haven’t travelled to any place for the show. We only shot in Delhi. But we did get to ride around town on our motorcycles, which was fun, and met some nice people. We were asked to choose one of our previously produced tracks. It’s a cool collaboration with a brass band.”
They say they were most happy with their stint with SoundTrek, but in a jocular vein add, “Although we wish we had travelled to a more exotic location!”
Hari and Sukhmani are from Chandi Town (Chandigarh) and they combine eclecticism with a curiously contemporary take on traditional folk songs from Punjab. They blend folk music with electronica. “We say long live Punjabi folk! Chardi kala! We will keep making our small efforts to keep it alive.” And about response to Punjabi folk music and their kind of fusion, the duo shares, “The response is always fantastic. It’s good music, and if presented well, you can’t go wrong with it.”
Sukhmani Malik is a trained Hindustani classical vocalist from the Rampur Gharana and has a voice which is dense with character. Hari Singh is a producer and an audio engineer. “We met through a common friend. I guess the time was right. I had just finished my travels in Europe, Hari had also returned from Manchester, and we were both looking for work!” says Sukhmani.
And since December 2008, Hari and Sukhmani have been touring nationally and internationally, having performed time and again in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Udaipur, Lucknow, Benaras, Goa, Jim Corbett, Manali, Mussouri, Shimla, Sydney (Australia), Wellington and Queenstown (New Zealand). Their charisma and demand has also been growing in the wedding circuit. The duo has also made music for feature films like Deepa Mehta’s Videsh and Heaven on Earth.
Apart from Hari and Sukhmani, SoundTrek features other musical geniuses like the MIDIval Punditz, Lucky Ali, Advaita, Parikrama, Ranjit Barot, Avial, Indus Creed and Soulmate to name a few. The show takes the audience to popular Indian destinations like Ladhakh, Goa, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Auroville, Kerala, Shillong, Calcutta, Varanasi, Kalimpong, Maheshwar, Srinagar, Orchha and Udaipur. And in these journeys, the musicians try to find the best local talent for the biggest jam session of their lifetime.
A fresh take
The show holds a lot of promise because it is being produced by pioneers in the field of music — blueFROG, a revolutionary integrated music project that consists of the country’s premiere live music performance clubs. Artistes from all over the world have played at the blueFROG clubs, including John McLaughlin, Earl Klugh, Richard Bona, Angelique Kidjo, Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, Anoushka Shankar, Gotye, Deep Forest, as well electronic music giants Skazi, Armin Van Buuren, Shpongle, John Digweed, Sasha, Nick Warren and Infected Mushroom.
SoundTrek will present the experiences, musical and travel, of the musicians as they interact with storytellers, qawals, boatmen etc. The show will run 18 episodes, which will feature 18 bands, 18 journeys and 18 unique collaborations. Hari and Sukhmani are quite excited about their stint with SoundTrek and they also look forward to future projects.
“Next level is to keep the originals coming as well. Songs on iTunes, hitting international festivals etc. Sky is the limit!” is what they say signing off.