All you need to know about the Ska Vengers

All you need to know about the Ska Vengers

Their music always hits where it hurts the most, and unlike many indie bands in the country, Ska Vengers never forget to keep their music relevant with current issues prevalent in the society. Their new song Frank Brazil is a tribute to freedom fighter Udham Singh aka Ram Mohammed Singh Azad who seeks vengeance for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre by assassinating Michael O’Dwyer, then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab. The music is hip hop and the video is sentimental, invoking ideas of freedom and pain ingrained in our past. Such are all the songs of the Vengers.

Since 2009, their songs have mostly been in line with political and social ideas which break the idealisms of nation and its values. Other such songs are Badda and Rough and Mean.

Samara C aka Begum X and Delhi Sultanate aka Taru Dalmia may seem like the show stealers, but the Ska Vengers band is a mystic mix of musicians and thinkers. The other members of the band comprise of founder member and keyboard/percussionist Stefan Kaye, who plays a key role in composing and arranging Ska Vengers songs, along with Nikhil Vasudevan on percussions and Chaz Bhalla on guitar. 

Their live shows are as enigmatic as their abstract videos. The band has been in the field since 2009 and has made their presence felt in ska, reggae, rock steady, jazz, punk music in India. Their other activities include journalism, teaching yoga, doing voice-overs, mixing sound and DJing.

Dalmia tells Metrolife, “We play reggae and ska music which are inherently political. It’s the only music from one of the former colonies that has achieved this extent of global reach and popularity. It was created by a black underclass and speaks in English which comes from the ghetto. Its very existence is political even if lyrics are not always explicitly political.”

Dalmia mostly writes the lyrics and Begum X has begun writing more this year. According to the Vengers, it’s a politically dangerous and disturbing time in India. “Society is getting increasingly polarised. Violence is simmering and intolerance is becoming increasingly acceptable and part of mainsteam discourse,” says Begum X.

“This is troubling for some of us and music is a way for us, on a personal level, to equate and address these things instead of just being passive witnesses. Perhaps we have the ability to challenge mainstream perspectives or at least provide an alternative view point, or in the least to generate a little debate,” enumerates Dalimia.

For the band, life is not very regular and structured. They constantly tour and have more than one musical project going on. Between rehearsals, studio recordings, touring or research trips they stay very busy. Dalmia says that he reads a lot in his spare time and tries to stay up to date with current affairs.

It can be said that their forte is their collective energy both on and off stage. They bring 12 to 14 original tracks in a year, which is simply a lot for any band along with giving two to four live performances in a month.

On being an indie music band Dalmia says, “I think we’ve been lucky in that. We’ve been able to stick to our vision, not compromise too much and still be able to live off music. I think our sound and vibe is also somewhat commercially viable which helps. I know it’s hard for a lot of indie bands to get by because so many promoters and venue owners are only interested in money, liquor sales and sponsorship deals.”

All the band members have played abroad individually. Delhi Sultanate and Begum X have toured and performed abroad extensively. They have toured the US and EU. Afghanistan, Jamaica and are set to tour Japan later this year. The Ska Vengers will tour the UK in the summer of 2016.

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