Their prowess combined

Musical Musings

Their prowess combined

A cappella performance (without musical instruments) is indeed vocal acrobatics. Having set their niche to this tune and some beatboxing, the all-vocal ensemble of Voctronica, comprising Avinash Tewari, Raj Verma, Arjun Nair, Warsha Easwar and Clyde Rodrigues, actively steals the shows at college fests and music festivals.

Off the live scene and on the internet, the group has grabbed eyeballs (views) and applause (likes) for the videos Evolution of A R Rahman, a musical tribute to the legend for his last birthday, and A Tribute to Indian Classical Ads, a collaboration with the comedy group All India Backchod that recalls good old Indian advertisements.

Here are excerpts from an interview...

Why did you think marrying a cappella and beatboxing would work out?

The idea is exciting and quite a kick for the curious mind. Beatboxing by itself is intriguing, and put that together with another vocal art, and you have ingredients for a great recipe. There’s something surreal about being in a place with four other people, without any
instruments, and being able to create whole-sounding music.

How did you get started as a band? Did you imagine you would go this far?

Voctronica was initially put together by Sony Music India and British Council in conjunction with the UK-based beatboxer Shlomo.  That set-up dissolved after a few gigs, and the current set-up of the band was put together by the band members and Sony Music a little over two years ago.

Quite honestly, when we formed this band, we were just looking to do something creative with the vocal space, make good music, and be heard. Even now, while we’re extremely grateful for all the love we’ve received, our core principles remain the same — we want to keep pushing, keep evolving, and keep doing something new with our art. It’s a continuous journey.

Who are the current members of the band and what roles do they play?

After all this time of working together, we now have a somewhat generic template we follow. Arjun primarily does vocal bass and sings from time to time. He also fronts the band live. Avinash is primarily a beatboxer, and also sings when required. Raj is a beatboxer who handles rhythm and electronic-bass tones. Clyde and Warsha are the melody and harmony engines of the band.

A cappella performance seems simple. But what actually are the efforts that go into such a show?

Yes, while having to carry or set up, no instruments does make life easy, a cappella and beatboxing come with their own set of challenges. You need a good soundcheck, and an engineer who knows your sound and how to mix a vocal band live. The lack of instruments tends to give people the impression that we don’t need a soundcheck and can just perform. The mics being our only gear have to be EQd and checked perfectly. There’s a fair number of other things too, like perfecting micing technique, learning to switch between parts, and continually finding new ways to achieve a desired result.

From where do you draw inspiration?

The receptive nature of a creative mind can be fairly odd. We find inspiration in anything that moves us or grabs our attention. Everything from the sound of zips and car horns to watching an artist play to just exploring a new place.

Inspiration comes whenever we feel something resonates within us.

How is the a cappella/beatboxing scene in India?

This is a great time to be doing a cappella and/or beatboxing in India. The number of people practising the art forms, and the ones following them, have significantly increased over the last couple of years.

What goals do you have for 2016? Any collaborations?

It would be to put out a lot more content, largely video-based. We’re also actively working on original music, apart from covers. 2016 will see a good number of Voctronica original singles.

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