A kaleidoscope of sounds

New album

A kaleidoscope of sounds

With more than 2500 shows in his kitty, Grammy award-winning musician Prakash Sontakke is renowned as the only slide guitar player in the state. He has travelled across the globe spreading his genre-bending music.

The neo-classical band, ‘Dr Prakash Sontakke Group’ (DPSG), was put together by him to harness the collective spontaneity of seasoned musicians to create original music. The band also includes Kedar Nayak, Shadrach Solomon and Karthik Mani.

The group has brought out its first album, ‘Progressive Raga’, which is an attempt to showcase how Indian classical music can coexist and blend with any other
musical genre. Prakash and Kedar talk to Rajitha Menon about the new EP and their tryst with music.
 
Tell us a bit about your journey till now...

Prakash: I have been in this field for almost two decades now. My parents, father
Dr RB Sontakke and mother Dr Mani Sontakke were also musicians. They encouraged experimentation even though they were from a traditional background. I was a convent kid so listening to Western music was inevitable.

Kedar: I picked up a guitar for the first time when I was about nine years old and stuck to it through school and college. When I joined engineering, I switched to Bass to get into the college band. I continued playing with the band for some time even after engineering before quitting for various reasons. I came back to it after over two decades when I set up ‘Octavium’ in 2013. That’s when I reconnected with Prakash and the band  was a natural progression.

Your new EP, ‘Progressive Raga’, is about...

Prakash: It’s a unique blend of Indian Classical music and Progressive Rock hence the name ‘Progressive Raga’. I have also given it a very unique flavour by adding
ambient sounds; sounds which we can hear in our daily lives. For example, the track
‘Gandhi Bazaar Buzz’ has sounds of Gandhi Bazaar and creates a nostalgic feeling for anyone anywhere in the world who was even remotely linked to the place. Another track ‘Surfing the Bangalore Skies at Rudra Pada’ invokes the feeling of that place and will be a treat for listeners. 

Kedar: ‘Progressive Raga’ is a unique production which was created by the four of us
ideating, jamming and recording while playing together in the studio. The songs follow different time signatures and move across different flavours from jazz fusion
and trance to progressive rock. Each song is preceded by a kaleidoscopic presentation of sounds, recorded by Prakash at different parts of the world. The album also features some really talented guest musicians.

Most favourite show till now?

Prakash: I have performed close to 2250 shows till now but the one in Canada in 2006 remains etched in my memory. We had just landed and had no time to rehearse.

With all that jet lag and tiredness, we went on to the stage and performed and the show turned out to be perfect.
 
One place you would love to perform?

Kedar: It could be any place, it doesn’t really matter what the stage looks like or what the size of the crowd is. As long as the audience is appreciative and not judgmental about our music, we will have a great time performing.

What are your thoughts about Indian music?

Prakash: It is the most advanced and mature form of music in the whole world and has the unique ability to blend with any other form of music very easily. In that way, it is a music which gives the maximum amount of freedom.

Kedar: Indian music is now multihued, ranging from popular film music to devotional, folk, classical and western forms, all coexisting happily and having their own audiences. Boundaries are blurring, new forms like folk rock are emerging and gaining
popularity. Indie music is becoming big in the performance circuits and artistes aren’t afraid to experiment anymore. Even film music directors are moving away from the formulaic approach. However, there is not enough professionalism and organisation in the industry.

An advice to the young hopefuls in your circuit?

Prakash: Have fun and be creative. Understand that being traditional never means status quo; tradition has been handed down to us after many additions and edits and is still open to the same.  Kedar: Be yourself, practise hard and be willing to take feedback.

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