Grammy award winner Ricky Kej, who is a big supporter of Nature & Wildlife has composed the Music for the Documentary film of "Wild Karnataka" an epic nature film which took four years and 400 hours of footage and is India’s first blue chip natural history film narrated by the living legend Sir David Attenborough. Karnataka is one of the most Bio-Diverse regions on Earth, having the largest number of Tigers and Elephants. The documentary which captures the breath-taking natural wildlife of Karnataka is a product of a team of world-class Indian filmmakers with Kalyan Varma and Amoghvarsha JS.
At the film premier recently Ricky Kej had to say “It has been a dream come true to create the music for this spectacular movie, and I hope you enjoy it :-).
how did you go about composing the Music..?
To begin with, Karnataka is my home and I have always been a proud Bangalorean so when I was approached by some of the best wildlife filmmakers in the world to score music for a film that showcases the beauty of Karnataka to the world along with Sir David’s Attenborough’s impeccable narration at the helm, it was an absolute no brainer. Wild Karnataka is one of those films that brings out your inner child as you watch every stunning frame with a sense of awe and wonder. It forces you to realize how amazing Mother Nature really is and she has always been the primary source of inspiration for me to create music. I am also a huge fan of Sir David Attenborough and it is a tremendous honor for me to have composed music for a film that he has helped bring to life. The stunning visuals of Wild Karnataka inspired me to create an original score that complements each scene and I am sure that audiences around the world will be moved by both the film and the music. This was also an amazing opportunity for me to work again with fantastic musicians with whom I have had the honor of collaborating many times and to showcase the glory of Indian classical music to the world.
What have you put forth with your music…?
Music is an extremely powerful tool and a powerful background score that complements the story and the visuals help elevate the film. I worked extremely hard to ensure that we came up with a spectacular score befitting this timeless movie. I wanted the audiences to feel like they are a part of the film, not just spectators and through my music, I wanted them to experience a whole range of human emotions.
Your connect with Nature and Wildlife…?
It was through music that I fell in love with our natural world. I found a deep connection between music and nature. I also realized that I loved hanging around with animals and within nature and I would see personality in every single animal I saw.. including perceivably scary animals like insects and reptiles. There is a deep connection between music and nature and my music is a reflection of this and an extension of my personality.
Music and conservation have always been the two pillars that have defined my life and ever since I won the Grammy Award in 2015, I have dedicated my life and my music towards raising awareness on various social and environmental causes.
I have performed my music at the United Nations General Assembly, NY among other prestigious venues all over the world and most recently at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. I have performed my music to thousands of people at historic venues in over 20 countries now to audiences comprising of World Leaders, Change-Makers, legislators, scientists, environmentalist and tens of thousands of the general public.
Comprised of five of its most innovative musicians, Udopia is at the heart of Greece's vibrant musical scene, at the crossroad of East and West, tradition and modernity. Drawing inspiration from ritual dance music, urban songs, modern grooves and the country’s ancient musical heritage, the group's unusual and characteristic lineup of saxophones, oud, kamancheh, voice, accordion, tabla and drums creates an explosive blend of rhythmic elements that will dynamically carry the audience through the beauty of age old melodies. Udopia is Efthymios Atzakas (Oud, Composer), Konstantinos Anastasiadis (Drums, Tabla, Composer), James Godfrey Wylie (Saxophone, Kemenche, Composer), Fausto Sierakowski (Saxophone, Composer) & Avgerini Gatsi (Vocals, Accordion).
On their recent visit to India, we got to connect with Konstantinos Anastasiadis. from the band to share experiences of their visit to India and performing at Udaipur Music Festival.
Is this your first visit to India?
This is actually our second visit to India and we are so proud of it. The Indian journey has been amazing so far and we are very excited to perform in Delhi.
What are your first impressions of this country?
In my opinion, India is the most spiritual country I have ever been to. Everything feels different in here. Being here makes me feel alive as every day brings a new experience.
Has any Indian musician or musical tradition influenced your music?
Yes, of course. A lot of music that we play is inspired by the Indian Classical music. In fact, I grew up listening to Shakti band- which plays acoustic fusion music combined with elements of Jazz, Carnatic music- which is music associated with Southern part of India and of course Hindustani classical music. My love for Indian music grew over time and listening to great Indian musicians on Youtube influenced me so much that I wanted to learn different Indian instruments like Carnatic Violin and Tabla. I have been practicing Tabla for 15 years now. Zakir Hussain and Tari khan are few of my favorite Tabla players from India.
Tell us something about your music and what musical styles have influenced your sound?
Udopia is still growing and exploring since it’s a fairly new band but our music is mostly influenced by Balkan style, Arabic sounds, Turkish sounds and of course Greek and India influence as well.
Has your music, which is essentially traditional Greek/Middle Eastern, changed over the years?
The history of Greek music goes all the way back to ancient times but not much has changed from ancient to modern styles. The origins of Greek folk song can be traced back to the first centuries where Greek tragedy of poetry, music and dance were a part of the daily lives of Greek entertainment. However, Udopia is of course changing as it’s still exploring and growing as it is passed and performed from one individual to another.
Popular music has a much wider audience, have you ever considered going pop so to say, to reach a wider audience?
What do you think of the current world music scene?
I feel the music industry is going down and it’s not good because everybody is getting commercialized. They just produce music to sell.
What are your future projects as individually and as a band?
I am currently playing with 15 bands. There are so many projects that we have tied up with across the world. I don’t know what is going to happen in future but we are definitely preparing ourselves with some new music, mix of traditional and modern music. It is going to be very exciting as it is not the instrument which is important for me but it is the communication and connection with the audience, that is how well your music is received and loved which is of utmost importance.
Any upcoming festivals that you are playing?
Lot of stuff for all of us. Playing in various festivals over the next two years.
Do you plan to come to India again and how was the overall experience?
Yes, of course. It is indeed a beautiful country and we would love to perform in each and every city of India. We met some amazing musicians and artists in the city. Every time when you come to a new place like this, there is so much to sink in and experience it. It is only once you go back that you realise the worth of an experience like this. So you just go with your eyes and ears open, not thinking too much about it, just trying to take it all in and live it. It’s beautiful!
Did you get a chance to interact with other bands?
We couldn’t interact much with bands there as it’s a huge festival which means that musicians had to be spread over different hotels and 3-4 different stages. But great experience!
However, we did jam with some of the local musicians from Udaipur. It was a delight to be in that space.
How did you get selected for the Udaipur World Music Festival?
We came here last year which is the reason why we are here today. We played music for the Institute of Greek Indian friendship- Indo Hellenic friendship league. Obviously, we couldn’t have come here without the help of the Greek Embassy and the Chairman of Mawana Sugars, Mr. Siddharth Shriram.
They trusted me and my colleagues to present some elements of Greek music for this conference. The Greek Ambassador came to this concert and appreciated our music. During the summers, he called me and said that there was a great news for us, Udaipur Music Festival wanted some great musicians for their festival and Seher foundation proposed our band and also found a sponsor for us. So without them, nothing would have been possible.
We are talking about the experiences and our future goals but it is very important to remember that without the generosity and interest in cultures of institutions and private individuals, I mean to bring a band from Greece like that is just not possible.
Raga to Rock got Harindra Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, Percept Limited to speak about taking Sunburn back to Goa in it's new avatar, tie up with Klassique Events and how he intends handling the differences he had with the Goa Goverment.
“Sunburn Klassique" is all about the original vibe of Sunburn. Right from the flea markets, experience zones, adventure activities and setup, the overall vibe will strike a chord of nostalgia. It will bring back memories of the good times fans have experienced in the past when Goa was home to Sunburn. The artist line up will reflect the very same sentiment. We will be bringing down artists that are iconic and reflective of the vibe of the earlier days of Sunburn Goa. The Sunburn Klassique format will be completely different from the Sunburn festivals taking place in different cities. From the setup to the stages and the artists, Sunburn Klassique will truly stand apart. Sunburn evolved to a much bigger and commercial format post exit from Goa. We all missed the original Goa Sunburn. It was cooler, more intimate, more emotions, experiences, pre post parties, shacks, local food and flavours. Sunburn Klassique will aim to bring back all of that.”
On the tie up with Mr. Shailesh Shetty, Klassique Events, and future plans for Sunburn in Goa, Harindra Singh responded, “We left Goa in 2016 with a very heavy heart. We tried really hard to recreate the magic of Goa across other destinations, however Goa is Goa....and it was impossible to create the Goa magic anywhere else. Recently we sensed an opportunity to return to Goa and were lucky to tie-up with Mr. Shailesh Shetty, Klassique who will be representing Sunburn in Goa and taking on the onus of handling all the local logistics, permissions and licenses for ensuring a smooth and successful homecoming of Sunburn Klassique in the State. The weekend of 23 & 24 February 2019 will be the first 2 day Sunburn Klassique showcase at Vagator. The plan is to start with one event and based on the success and feedback increase to 2 events. Ideally we would like to have one in the first quarter, one during the monsoon and one in the 3rd quarter.”
On the differences cited in media between the Goa Government and Percept Live over pending dues, Harindra Singh replied, “At the time of its exit from Goa in 2016, Sunburn’s direct contribution to the Goa economy stood at close to Rs. 700 crores, besides generating employment and creating an entire ecosystem. Apart from putting the state on the world music tourism map as a preferred destination, Sunburn benefits and supports local businesses across hotels, F&B, travel, shopping and transport. We were waiting for an opportunity to return and host Sunburn in Goa. And when we read a recent statement of the Tourism Minister lamenting the exit of EDM Festivals and its associated impact. We saw a glimmer of hope and attained the confidence to look for a viable partner to bring back Sunburn into the State of Goa. In business there are bound to be differences. However both parties were proactively trying to seek solutions and arrive at a mutual resolution. It feels great to have arrived at a consensus to bring Sunburn back to its State of birth and continue to engage proactively to narrow past gaps and close. I can state clearly that we are close to resolving all matters amicably and the gaps will soon be a thing of the past. We will work assiduously with the authorities to get all the requisite permissions to ensure the event goes off smoothly without any glitches, and also adds tremendous value to the local eco-system. We are very thankful to the Government for its support and recent announcements.”
Sheldon D’Silva is currently one of India’s leading Bass guitarists having performed with legends like John McLaughlin, Sting, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Avishai Cohen Trilok Gurtu, Louiz Banks and at the Capetown Jazz Festival, ACC World Music Festival and 19th Ulsan Jazz Festival, South Korea recently to name a few. He also doubles up as a Composer, Music Producer, Music Programmer and Arranger. Monarose Sheila Pereira caught up with him rec and got him to share his Musical journey with us.
What does the Bass mean to you?
Bass for me is the ultimate element in the architecture that bridges and binds the rhythm and melody in a harmonious foundation that cements the structure of the music. Bass guitarists add a certain groove, swing, tone and texture that cannot be substituted by keyboard programming. The Bass Guitarist plays a very important role in an Orchestra or a Band; he brings a certain charm and form to the music.
What does Music mean to you?
Music eventually becomes a voice of everything that you are molded from, so the more knowledge and experiences you fill yourself up with, the more profound your music will be. The bigger picture is all art, is beautiful and is all connected. . Music comes from a sacred place, it will feed your body and soul, so treat it with love and respect.
‘Music comes from a sacred place, it will feed your body and soul, so treat it with love and respect.’
How did you become a Bass Guitarist?
Music is my greatest inspiration. I never dreamt it would one day be a career, as I always thought I would be a Pilot or something nerdier. I was an A+ student pursued to study Applied Art at B.D. Somani School of Art and Fashion Technology and all along, Music was my only constant, my liberation from the world. It etched at me and showed me a world far greater than the one forced upon children these days. I was warned it would be a very difficult life and not very lucrative, music was the only path that set me free. I simply surrendered to its force, leaving my life in the hands of the Almighty.
What do you like about your career?
When you choose to make a living doing something you love and that makes you happy, it doesn’t feel like work, and in turn you put more effort, heart and passion into it. That eventually serves a much higher purpose, you become a better person, you innovate and become a role model for future generations Materialistic gains can only take you a certain distance, but the respect and satisfaction you get after doing what you love, is priceless, as you get to change the world and make a difference with innate qualities that you have been uniquely designed with. It’s a superpower, don’t ignore it, implement it. God takes care of artists, so don’t be afraid.
Tell us about your training?
Music practice is something that shouldn’t stop. Discipline is mandatory and to never stop practicing. I’m constantly thinking, breathing music don’t rush and be impatient, learn the nuances, learn its history and let it play through you. Do it as much as possible, and look into a practice regime by finding constant inspiration. Listen constantly to artists and watch them and copy them before you can find your own voice. Increase your vocabulary at the instrument, so you don’t stammer on your instrument. Ear training is a must. Thinking fast is harder than playing fast. Do your homework before you reach the workplace. Broaden your mind to all kinds of music without judgment, it will benefit you. Be present at all possible music events, watch and meet musicians and learn from their experiences. Play till your hands drop! Once in a while, shut yourself off and do something entirely different other than music and then restart. Very importantly when applying the above methods, make sure you are always happy doing them!
How long does one take to become a professional Musician?
Just remember you have to be good enough, that someone will want to pay you, for what you do. The more the payment, the more you need to be able to deliver. Professionals are capable of producing art that’s packaged well, is money’s worth, is innovative, serves the requirement in a timely manner and have the morals and ethics essential for a work environment. However long it takes you to achieve this, is how long you will take to be a professional.
What do you think of the current Music scenario?
An ever growing competitive industry, that has its flaws, can be demoralizing. Today the use of technology has put tons of musicians out of work; it’s a growth and understanding that we need to evolve from to realize what is more important. We as a community need to help one another, otherwise it’s a whirlpool that will eventually pull everyone down, including the ones who think they are in power. Artists are supported by their audiences and audiences are regaled by these artists, it’s a give and take, if either side stops, it will all end. Music is not a hobby; it’s a part of human growth and sustenance, so we should fund music and other art forms. Musicians and artists are the closest form of magic, perfection, and connection to God, that stir the audience’s soul and, they have bills to pay too.
‘Musicians and Artists are the closest form of magic, perfection, and connection to God, that stirs the audience’s soul and, they have bills to pay too.’
What do you like about being a musician?
The advantages are countless, you get to travel the world, stay in the fanciest of hotels, see places in the world you would have never dreamt of going on your own, meet people of all sects and societies, rich and poor, celebrities to heroes, enjoy plenty of luxuries, but more importantly make a difference to society and the world. You can have a voice than can change history, have the ability to help people and create awareness. Your name could be immortalized through your contribution, becoming an inspiration and guide to the youth and future. You can be the miracle and crux of evolution.
What are your plans for the future?
Honestly I’m not much of a planning type of guy. I go with the flow. If anything, I keep a few bullet points in mind. So some of them are working on my solo album and for my band Violet Chords, along with Reenie Mansata,Tubby, Gino Banks and Ravi Chary. finishing up with projects that are pending, , honing my skills as a bass player and producer and probably looking to do more production, besides recording on multipleband projects like Merkaba, FunkTub, The Mekaal Hasan Band and Nexus. I’m also producing Ad jingles and recording on Bollywood movie soundtracks.
Monarose Sheila Pereira is an author, journalist and media lecturer.She has published several books and has written for all the major newspapers andmagazines. She has worked for All India Radio and Doordarshan. She alsoconducts self improvement workshops.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.