New York-based Indian guitarist and composer Shubh Saran's musical career has been shaped by a variety of influences, including a childhood spent in six different countries and formative years spent listening to Indian fusion music.
An alumnus of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Shubh plays intricate compositions that fuse sounds from modern jazz, neo-soul, and rock with classical and contemporary Indian music.
In the city recently to perform at BFlat, the artiste took time off to chat with Rajitha Menon about his journey till now.
When did you realise that music was your calling?
Growing up, I was deeply fascinated by the life of musicians. Watching some of my favourite bands made me realise that I was meant to pursue music. I remember watching 'Indian Ocean' live at the India International Center in Delhi when I was fifteen and being completely blown away by the concept of
being a professional musician.
Six different countries while growing up. Which one influenced you the most musically?
I started learning the guitar while my family lived in Geneva, Switzerland which gave me a strong sense of identity when I lacked it the most. But the musician in me was born when my family moved back to Delhi after many years abroad. I was excited about mixing the Indian classical and contemporary music I was raised on with my love for pop, rock, and blues.
Your favourite genre?
I can't say that I have a favourite genre, but I have favourite sounds, rhythms, harmonies, and textures from a wide variety of genres.
There is a constant influence by music from all over the world at all times. I tend to listen to a lot of
contemporary jazz, neo-soul, R'n'B, funk, rock and Indian fusion music.
What are your musical influences?
I'm heavily influenced by music with interesting rhythmic and harmonic ideas. Tigran Hamasyan, Jacob Collier, Avishai Cohen, 'Snarky Puppy' and 'Moonchild' are some among the many I like.
What do you listen to in your spare time?
In my spare time, I listen to a lot of jazz, fusion, neo-soul and other crossover genres within those. I try to actively look for new artistes to obsess over, my current one being Anomalie.
How does it feel to perform in India?
Going on tour to India with my band from New York is a dream come true. My Indian-musician-life and American-musician-life have always been two separate things. Thanks to this tour, I am finally able to merge these two worlds.
What did the itinerary look like?
We performed almost every night, conducted workshops and also did a live video recording session. The recording session featured five artistes from Delhi and my band arranged and performed their songs. The songs will be released online after the tour.
We hear you have Bollywood dreams...
I have Bollywood dreams! The idea of working on films, that are watched by millions, is extremely exciting. I look up to a lot of music directors in India like A R Rahman, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Clinton Cerejo, Sneha Khanwalkar, Raam Sampath, and many others. It's challenging work that requires great patience.