Playing from the heart

Fusion

Playing from the heart

With the eclectic influences on his music and his own penchant for dabbling in whatever appeals to him musically, it is no wonder that it is so difficult to put a conventional label on Shrikant Sriram’s music. But then, as Shri (that is how he likes to be addressed) laughs saying, “I can play solo tabla or flute or bass guitar; I can collaborate with other musicians, whether new-age or classical; and I can play with a hundred different technological things. All that matters is that in the end, my music should be pleasing to the ear, be exciting and worth listening to again and again!”


Talented player

The Mumbai-born, London-based musician and composer is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the bass, bowed bass, tabla, flute and the loopers. He is also good at beat boxing. He is now in India for a series of gigs. Better known as ShriLektric, he is touted as India’s first one-man lead acoustic, electronic, and computing-based musician.

So far, he has released two solo studio albums — Seven Steps and East Rain — on his record label, written music for advertisements and also composed original background score for the Hindi films Striker and Barah Aana.

“But I make music only when I am given complete creative freedom, which is why I am so choosy,” he adds. And he is open to composing for more Bollywood as well as south Indian films, he says.

He is one half of the duo Badmarsh. “In Europe, they don’t understand what badmaash means, so the name is okay!” he jokes. “But seriously, our individually different sounds complement each other well, which is why it works.”

He has been signed by UK-based record label Outcaste Records. Shri is also a recipient of the Gold Award at The Creative Abby Awards at Goafest for composing music for Google Chrome short film, Tanjore.


And ShriLektric is also part of Urban Folk, a new music genre which aims to bring together earthy folk music with contemporary electronic sounds to create a signature fusion of music and culture and a unique cultural adventure. He has also contributed to musical collaborations for theatre productions.

How did so many instruments happen? Shrilektric, whose tryst with the world of music began with the tabla explains, “I learnt tabla from Nikhil Ghosh. Later, I began playing the flute. I was self-taught. Bass happened to me by accident. In fact, I didn’t know that there was something called the bass guitar,” says Shri who has now gone so far as to design and regularly perform with his handcrafted fretless bass guitar.

Necessity was the mother of that invention he says as he couldn’t afford the readymade variety. “Also, I like making my own things!” he adds.

Universal language

How did the move to UK happen? He explains that he was discovered by an Englishman who heard the Indian jazz album which “as a bassist, I played and recorded. He made an offer and I took it.” In UK, Shriram began collaborating with other artistes — well-known Brit-Asian musicians like Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney and DJ Badmarsh to define a genre of global contemporary Asian electronic music which came to be known as Asian Underground.

For someone who is an amalgam of so many influences, would it be difficult to be a conventional teacher? Yes, agrees Shri. “Actually, I dream of teaching students a new approach to music wherein they will be able to explore the total potential of their instrument and also of themselves as musicians. And I just want to go on making good music which people will appreciate and enjoy.”

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