Making waves with music

Maestros

Making waves with music

Their serious loss (co-founder, vocalist and musician Asheem Chakravorty’s sudden death in 2009) has only made them stronger. Indian Ocean, the Indipop band with a rare depth and rooted values, continues to make waves and swim expertly in the waters of creativity, churning up a frothy mix of contemporary sounds with their core USP — Indian melody.

Films and more

Chatting up on the phone, co-founder Susmit Sen (Vocals and Guitar), Amit Kilam (Percussion) and Rahul Ram (Vocals and Bass Guitar) share  details about their current work and more. Talking about their album 16/330, Khajoor Road, Amit Kilam says, “This album has seven tracks with the characteristic sound of Indian Ocean. All these tracks have been composed for different films. Right now, we are releasing this digitally through free downloads, but we will be releasing a limited edition of the album under our own label later. This will include a female version of one of the songs, which has been sung by Bangladeshi singer Anusheh.”

Adds Susmit, “The name of the album refers to the address where we have been making our music in New Delhi for the last 20 years. It’s a building which is more than 100 years old. It’s said that the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote most of his poetry here. As for the free downloads, we are offering our fans to download one song per month for free. Thanks to existing copyright laws, we musicians barely earn from albums while music companies mint money with successful albums, so why burden our fans? And in this way, we also get to keep the rights too!”

The band has churned out memorable tracks for Bollywood films including Black Friday and the very recent Peepli [Live]. Says Amit, “We never ape anyone or a trend, but compose for specific situations, as we did with Black Friday, for which we also did the background score. The song Zindagi se darte ho from Peepli [Live] that director Anusha Rizvi wanted us to compose, was to set to the tune of Noon Meem Rashed’s poetry.”

He adds further, “The reason why we enjoyed doing these scores was because the people we have worked with — Anusha Rizvi, Aamir Khan and Anurag Kashyap — have a good ear for music. They also gave us complete freedom on what and how much music to use for the background score for their films. It was a learning process working with these  people. For instance, for Des mera, which was already released in our 2004 album Jhini, we had to change the lyrics as per the demands of the film, which is where Swanand Kirkire came in.”

On missing Asheem, Rahul shares his sentiments, “What we did with Asheem has rocked, but is now behind us. Songs we all composed together, are now performed with great variations by us on stage — that’s growth. What we do now, considering he is no longer there, is what is important. We can’t think that we are finished; he wouldn’t have liked that. Asheem was a great singer, great voice, a great composer, and he had a fabulous presence on stage. He came up with out-of-the-box ideas, which inspired us to do the same. His influence will keep us growing.”

Keeping the ‘Indianness’ alive

The band has been chosen for the UTV World Movies concerts recently. Commenting on this move,  Susmit says, “We were chosen as a band that represented Indian culture and we are thrilled and proud about that. We have already done several concerts and they have been sellouts.” Adding further, Rahul says, “It’s been a great platform for us and we had great fun!”

Indian Ocean and their music has always stood out. They are always perceived to be a cut above the rest and have had a dedicated fan following since their inception. As Rahul puts it, “We started out in 1984 and cut our first album Indian Ocean in 1992. All of us are based out of Delhi and have been exposed a lot to classical music besides film music. We were initially only an instrumental band, but even there, in our guitars and bass guitars, we never followed the chord patterns as done in Western music. We still place a lot of emphasis on instrumentation, perhaps even more now than before, but our melodies are very Indian.”

Points out Susmit, “And that is why my dad suggested we name our band Indian Ocean. Someone asked us if it was strategic to be Indian in the world of Western bands, but that was our flair. If not, we would not have been able to sustain the ‘Indianness’ in our music for over 20 years!”

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