BENGALURU: In a conversation with City Express, French musician Raphaelle Brochet talks about her most fondest memories of visiting India, her Carnatic music and why she decided to come to India often. Excerpts:
1. Tell us about your background and how music came into your life?
Both my parents were jazz musicians, so I grew up surrounded by Jazz and Classical music. I was home schooled, and trained in several conservatories in France in music and dance. So Jazz really came to me, as opposed to Carnatic music – and world music in general - which I really got into by myself.
2. How did you get introduced to Carnatic music and why did you choose to combine it with Jazz?
I first came to India with my parents when I was 11. I kept very vivid memory of that trip and wanted to go back as soon as possible, which I did when I turned 19. At that time, I was already heavily engaged in dance and music, and wanted to try out a singing class. I happened to be in Bengaluru, so the class was Carnatic. I immediately fell in love with it, and from that moment on, my life totally arranged itself around it. I moved to Paris, found a teacher there, who finally introduced me to my current guru Sarada Thota Amma. So it’s been almost 20 years now that I’ve been learning and practicing Carnatic music. I am now performing and teaching, but I am still learning from my guru, whenever I can because there are so much repertoire and knowledge to be passed on... this tradition is infinite.
3. Tell us about your first visit to India and Bengaluru. What was your most memorable experience here?
Well, my most memorable experience in Bengaluru was, of course, that singing class that turned out to be a life-changing event. But also I remember – that was back in 2001 – going to the flower market here and as I walked, I was offered one flower from each merchant. I ended up with a bag full of flowers and I thought, 'Oh my God! Here is India!' - a place where people give you beautiful, incredible scenting flowers, with a wide, sincere generous smile. I decided I wanted to come here as often as possible.
4. What are challenges you faced when entering the music industry?
The same challenges that everyone encounters. It's important to remember to your place in a wild strange world, surround yourself with the right people, and find your inner joy no matter what. We all face the same challenges, no matter the profession.
5. Which are the other genres you engage in and which is your favourite?
I like a lot of different music genres, I think they all have their beauty. Personally, I am very touched by Persian music, Baroque music and Sacred music from all parts of the world. I am also touched and engaged with other forms of art, such as dance and theatre.
7. Do you have a favourite Carnatic composer? Who?
Muttuswami Deekshitar. This is our lineage, and I recently got formally affiliated to his sixth generation of disciples, from direct transmission.
8. Where else in India do you teach music?
I have been working and performing all over India I would say – or the main cities, at least. Some places I would really want to go next would be Rajasthan and the North-East. My dream – and I know dreams come true, so I am saying this confidently – would be to spend some time there and collaborate with local musicians and dancers. Life is so full of surprises, maybe I won’t even have to look for the artistes… I know life brings you what you need when you fully love what you do and go for it with an open heart.
The artist had conducted a workshop at MELA and performed at BFlat, Indiranagar, along with Philippe Aerts, a Belgian jazz double bassist.