What is the result when you blend pop, rock, jazz, blues and thrash metal? Quite a musical mix, of course. ‘Mahesh and the Mix’ (MATM), to be even more specific. The indie rock band has been making waves in Bengaluru’s music scene since their January debut. The group blends different influences and experiences into a diverse musical palette that stretches the boundaries.
“Our sound is ever-evolving. There are definite indie, rock, folk and blues influences,” say the band members. It is hard to stick their music into just one genre. Their eclectic sound has earned them a growing fan following, and they have performed several gigs and opened for ‘The Raghu Dixit Project’ in the last few months.
The band features singer-guitarist Mahesh Raghunandan, bassist Ravi Nair, guitarist Anish Nadh and drummer Ashwin Shekhar. Originally, frontman Mahesh did not intend to start a new band. After releasing his first solo EP, he got a few musician friends together for collaborative sessions featuring his own songs. Soon, the group was regularly jamming and played a gig in January.
“We had a great, really inspiring response to the first gig, which was amazing,” Mahesh recalls. The band was completed by Johanson Prabhu, a freelance sound engineer. With his years of experience, Johanson mentors the band and pushes them to explore new musical territory. Their songs run the gamut from the upbeat to the serious. “They’re very internalised and train-of-thought songs about life,” Mahesh says. Ravi teases him, saying, “No, it’s about women.” And Mahesh rebuts with, “Women, life, all the same thing!”
Jokes aside, the group is navigating the often tricky waters of the independent music scene while continuing to develop and experiment. As the City is full of independent musicians, MATM is passionate about collaborating with other artistes. “We want to promote other musicians with the opportunities we get,” Ravi explains. “By collaborating with other artistes, we are making the scene bigger.” Mahesh agrees, “There’s so much indie music out there, it need to be channelled correctly.” “This is not a competition, appreciating other musicians inspires us to be a better band,” Johanson adds.
As a completely DIY band –– they do all their promotion and management themselves –– balancing both business and music can be a challenge. But the band stresses the importance of good management for upcoming acts. “Even if a band has good music, it might not always make it,” Mahesh explains.
The band loves connecting with people every time they play a gig, and have gained many loyal fans within the City. These fans and live gigs are vital to their success, as live shows are quickly becoming the only significant source of income for many independent artistes. “Not many people buy music nowadays although it differs depending on the band,” Johanson says. Beyond the financial benefit, they are passionate about the importance of live music. “It’s the most rewarding experience. Music was not designed only for entertainment, it is a way for people to come together,” adds Mahesh.
Music has definitely solidified friendships among the band members, although tensions can run high when creating music, especially with the difference in their musical styles. “I might think of a song in one way, but it will change completely when we jam,” Mahesh says. But arguments rarely last long. They share friendly camaraderie, inside jokes, and plenty of good-natured teasing.
The band says they are still in a learning process, experimenting with different sounds and styles. They hope to release an album next year while continuing to play live as much as possible. They would also love to do a road tour. “At the end of the day, we should reach out and connect to people,” they say in unison.