Soumik Datta’s tryst with the sarod began quite by chance. His family’s relocation to London led to him stumbling upon his great grandmother’s sarod. “It has a complex sound that gave me a sense of yearning for the home I had left behind,” says Datta, who has two decades of experience with the instrument. But what brings the British-Indian sarod maestro to Bengaluru? An upcoming collaboration with his friend and actor Nithya Menen for her first single, he says.
The 35-year-old recalls his foray into music and shares how he used to carry the sarod with him to boarding school. He then began composing music, with his influences lying well within the family, given his parents were musicians, albeit not professionally. His talent soon took him places, even giving him the chance to play with Jay-Z and Beyonce at the Royal Albert Hall in 2006. Ask him why he refused the offer to tour with them and he says, “I was working with Talvin Singh back then and we performed with the duo who wanted us to join the tour. I knew I never wanted to be a session musician.”
Datta’s love for the instrument also was the inspiration for his 2019 album Jangal, a five-track album that revolved around climate change. “My instrument has been carved out of a tree, with goat skin and a stainless steel fretboard, which emits greenhouse gases. This made me wonder about its carbon footprint. As part of our survival in society we neglect how we are impacting the environment,” he explains.
The same year, he embarked on the travelogue ‘Rhythms Of India’ on BBC. Hosted by the London-based musician, the series featured musicians like TM Krishna, Bickram Ghosh, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Javed Akhtar. It also included Parvaaz from Bengaluru and premiered in India on January 25. “The final episode focused on new independent music. I was fascinated with what new fusion looks like. If communities in India imbibe hip-hop which is from the Bronx and write lyrics in regional languages, does that make it Indian? Is it the language that makes music Indian,” asks Datta, adding that the new generation is influenced by American and Western cultures.