Swarathma’s Blog

Dewarists track by Swarathma and Shubha Mudgal – Duur Kinara – Lyrics and Translation
November 29, 2011, 10:31 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , , ,

Duur Kinara

Shubha Mudgal and Swarathma

Written by Shubha Mudgal, Vasu Dixit, Pavan Kumar KJ and Jishnu Dasgupta

Vo gaye balam

Vo gaye nadiya paar

Aap toh paar utar gaye

Hum toh rahe majdhaar

(Fragile memories,

Snatches of sound,

Faded photographs

Feelings unbound,

Birds flying in a V,

Homeward bound)

Doorada oorina katheya

Kelide nanna hridaya

Ee gaaliyali, nadiyalli

My heart has heard the tales of that faraway land

The tales that waft in the breeze, and flow in the rivers

Taayiya madilalli

geleyara nageyalli

Naa kandenu katheyannu

In my mother’s lap, I’ve heard these tales

In the laughter of my friends, I’ve seen these tales

Re gehri nadiyaa

Naiyya jhanjhari, duur kinara

Us paar saajan hamaara

Re gehri nadiyaa

(Fading photographs,

snatches of sound,

fragile memories,

feelings unbound)

Kanasolagina kanasali naa kande aa ooranu indu

In a dream within a dream I’ve seen that faraway land

(Translated from Kannada by Jishnu Dasgupta)


Three Days Down :: Notes from Swarathma in Studio

These pictures tell the story of our time in Empire Studios, Mumbai. People say that recording an album represents a watershed in the life of a band, as you come to terms with both your songs and your ability (or lack of it) in playing them. These are notes from that process.

The chai is one of the best things about Empire. Brewed in plenty by the canteen here, we have endless glasses of this invigorating fluid. Pic: Santosh Swami

Montry's drum setup is expansive and wowsome. If the studio sound is anything to go by they're going to sound big and full. Various indie scene drummers have helped - JJ of Something Relevant, The Demonstealer and Sid Coutto of ToT/Zero come to mind. Thanks guys! Pic: Nitin Joshi

What we had for lunch is irrelevant. What is remarkable is that it got Sanjeev's fountain going. Young children can also learn about the concept of night and day by this picture. Pic: Santosh Swami

An extreme-ish close up of Jishnu's Musicman bass during a warm-up session prior to the day's recording. Bass and drums were tracked together, live! Pic: Nitin Joshi

Just to give you an idea of the size of Empire's recording hall. It's MASSIVE. The height of the room gives some solid depth to the live drum sound. Pic: Nitin Joshi

Handshake Concert Live Photoblog – Chowdiah Hall, Bangalore

These are a series of images of the Handshake Concert through our eyes. It is an honour to be a part of this event, featuring the likes of Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and the band we’ve admired for a long time – Shillong’s Soulmate. Here it is then, the glimpses from a day in the life of a ‘working-class’ band. More updates soon. Pics: Montry Manuel and Jishnu Dasgupta

3:15pm - "Alien Eyes" - Sanjeev checks out of reality after a mind-numbing lunch. Clearly he is coasting through hyperspace.

2:45pm - "Collateral Beef Damage" - Half the band headed to Windsor Pub for one of the awesomest lunches of all time. Crab rasam, Pandhi (Pork) curry and Erachi Varathathu (Beef). Madness.

12:40pm - "VVIP Mirror on the Wall" - Montry Manuel surprised in the green room while he quickly checks email in the green room. The green room has a very 70s feel... loving it.

12:10 - "Blues Soul in Silhouette" - Rudy Walang has the most amazing bluesy guitar tone. Eagerly awaiting the jam on Topi Walleh with him!

12:05pm - "Keynote address" - Soulmate is an awesome sounding band. Their brand of blues is just so powerful that it blew us away at soundcheck.

11:20am - "Mike's friends" - Stands all in a row in the Chowdiah backstage area. Fortunately we're not using these monsters. They have a habit of toppling over.

Getting Lucky with Sennheiser!

The brightly coloured topis tend to make you smile. Swarathma jamming for Lucky Ali at Sennheiser's showroom.

If there’s one thing that Swarathma loves its getting together with musicians of any shape or size and JAM!

There’s something really incredible about the spontaneous combustion of two highly inflammabe musical ideas in the same room. The result is frequently magical! We got a chance to make this happen at the Sennheiser Experience Zone launch at Bangalore, and we got our favourite bands and artists together for a day long jam!

Lucky Ali began the day with a deftly snipped red ribbon that declared the showroom open. But things really got underway when we played for him “Topiwalleh” with him wearing a fluroscent blue and white bad boy and grooving along. It was a dream come true for us when we picked Vasu’s guitar up and jammed with us on “Anjaani Rahon Mein” a song I’ve heard since I was in school.

The Solder boys showed up soon afterwards to kick off the open jam. If you haven’t heard them yet, head over to their Facebook page for some stright up honest alt rock peppered with boyish charm. And then they just kept pouring in: Sachin from Parvaaz, Rauf from Ministry of Blues, everyone from Aks came in, with

Solder and Swarathma come together. Rock x (Alt + Folk) = Awesomeness

musicians picking up whatever instrument that was lying around to join one long massive jam. Sandeep Vashistha dropped by with his flutes as did Bindhu whose vocals added so much colour to the rainy afternoon. It was also great to have our old cohort Rahul Pophali on the tabla.

To end, you realize that you don’t really need a lot to create memories with music. Just a space where minds can come together and feed of each other’s energies. And Sennheiser’s showroom was just that.

Swarathma endorses Sennheiser wireless in-ear monitors and microphones.

Pictures: Santosh Swami (full set) | Video: Sameer Sahab and Vasu Dixit | Text: Jishnu Dasgupta

Taking on the Topiwalleh: Supporting Anna Hazare

Sanjeev and Varun get into the groove with 'Ee Bhoomi' at Freedom Park. Pic: Rohan Arthur

It is not every day that you get to be part of something larger than yourself. So when we received word from the folks at India Against Corruption about their efforts to support Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast to bring about changes to the committee that will determine the nature of the Jan Lokpal Bill, we didn’t think twice. We were on tour, coming in from Hubli overnight by the tour bus which we took straight in to Freedom Park in Bangalore. Changing in the bus and doing the morning ablutions at a public toilet were adventures, but they were totally worth it. Check out what we did thanks to Anju Maudgal Kadam.

It’s hard not to be cynical about imagining a world without the deep rooted corruption that is India today. Politics is shunned by the ‘educated’ youth, people like you and me who love moaning about the problem but do nothing about the solution. We’re too caught up in our own lives to bother about anything that falls outside our own interests. Which was why it was incredible to see how Anna Hazare managed to ignite hope for change in a nation as inured to corruption as ours. To be sure, nothing is perfect, and the proposed bill is not going to cure all the evils, but at least it is a step.

India Against Corruption are the folks that put together the SAAKU movement (‘enough’ in Kannada). We couldn’t make it for the event, but we did send in our support via this video. You can join their facebook page here.

This fight has just begun. The Topiwalleh are many in number. But they’re not as powerful as they think.

Text: Jishnu Dasgupta

“If You Want to be a Cool Violinist, Shave your Head” :: Sanjeev Nayak on his Weapon of Choice
March 22, 2011, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Live Setup, Music | Tags: , , , , ,

Sanjeev Nayak has been variously described as the ‘aathma’ in Swarathma, the Bald Genius and plain ‘hot’. Here he goes behind the scenes to decode what being a violinist in a band is all about. After all it is not every day that you find the bow taking to strings in a rock band setup! Read on for influences, gear, inspirations and more.

Why does a band need a violinist? The answer is quite simple – to play music!

I can assure you that the chances of you meeting a violinist that plays for a band, are not very high. Trust me, there are far fewer violinists out there than guitarists or drummers! Now, that’s a good thing, as it directly puts the violinist into a group of small but interesting breed of musicians!

A few months ago, I was in Amsterdam on some work and there I met a colleague who happened to be an amature musician himself. The moment he realized I was a violinist that played for a band, he thought it was cool and we joked about forming a band together. He was like “after I finish singing my first verse, mate, it’s time for you to unleash that wicked Bach violin solo!”. Quite cool indeed!

Traditionally, the Violin, and instruments that belong to its class, are what make up the string section of an Orchestra. Vioinists play different roles in an orchestra – the first violins play the melody, the second violin and the rest of the string section normally back up with harmonies. However, in a band setup, its role is somewhat different. Various people have adapted it to suit their musical styles. I believe that when the violin is used sparingly in a band, it stands out. In Swarathma’s music you can hear the violin playing different roles – during solos, it’s loud and takes the center stage, sometimes it whispers in the background playing harmonies. There are times when it plays nothing at all!

Jun Luc Ponty has a brilliant style of phrasing, and enthralled the audience in Bangalore a few years ago. I was there! And what is striking about his style is his total non-usage of vibrato!

Many technological innovations have occured since the times of Bach – one of them being the electrified violin. This again, was born more out of necessity. In an predominantly electric setup, to get the violin’s sound level up there with other instruments like electric guitar, without having to go through that nasty feedback loop on stage, choice of a solid bodied electric violin seems entirely logical. It’s not a new phenomenon, Jean Luc Ponty, a virtuoso violinist I totally admire, pioneered it in early 70s with his Zeta Jazz Fusion violin. Ponty was among the first to combine the violin with MIDI, distortion boxes, phase shifters, and wah-wah pedals. This resulted in his signature, almost synthesizer-like sound.

NS Design CR-5 Electric Violin

Electric violins come in different sizes, shapes and colors! Moreover, you can tweak their sound using pedals to add more textures. Many a times after the show, people come to me and ask what was the instrument that I was playing – is it violin they want to know. I’m almost tempted to say that it is an instrument from another planet!

I use two electric violins on stage: NS Design CR-5 (pictured) and Zeta Jazz Modern 5-string. Both are tuned differently. With a little reverb and acoustic blending, I get the  tone I like. But tone is again something one is never satisfied with for too long! I keep looking for new violin sounds and styles.

Finally, I don’t think its about what instrument you play. One can be a violinist, a guitarist or a pianist, but what matters most in a band is how the instrument is used to enhance the sound of the band.

P.S: Did I tell you this? If you want to be a violinist and look cool, shave your head 🙂

Ab Dilli Door Nahi: Show Poster
March 9, 2011, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Live Art, Tour | Tags: , , , , , ,

Gig poster! Design: Montry Manuel. Click to enlarge