Starting a band in the ninth standard is no joke. Now, add to that the fact that this band is a fusion of carnatic strains and jazz, and you find a whole new respect for this school goer. From the time that he started Karmic Blues, founder Vishnu Ramprasad is now a little older, but not a full fledged adult yet. “I started this band initially to connect Indian music to ‘my people’,” Vishnu says. He elaborates, “I’m talking about my friends who were all listening to rock at the time.”
This was three years ago. A multitude of performances and several line-up changes later, the band is back. Gearing up to perform in the city on Friday, City Express catches up with the musicians mid-jam session for a taste of their unique sound. The present line up comprises Vijayagopal (flute and vocals), Tiburtius Rubin (bass guitar), Mt Aditya Srinivasan (tabla) and their newest addition to the group, Tunisia-based Ayman Boujlida (drums and percussion).
Stepping into their rehearsal space at Kodambakkam and the scene is exactly what you would expect from a young band: energetic, a bluesy vibe and basically a fun bunch of musicians. But there are a few elements that make them stand out. For instance, 16-year-old Vishnu handles a double-neck guitar with the utmost ease and at the other corner of the room, all of a sudden one hears bits and pieces of a telephone conversation in Arabic. No guesses to figure out that the voice belongs to Ayman, currently a student of Carnatic music and Konnakol (art of percussion syllables) at a music academy in Chennai. “I’ve been in India for about a month so far,” he states, “and I’m really enjoying the music. Indian music is new to me, but fusion music isn’t.” He goes on, “I’ve been performing fusion music in other countries for long time now.”
Apparently, the idea has always been to infuse an international flavour with their sound,“just to keep our sound global,” says Vishnu. So far, the band has already collaborated with saxophonist Oliver Fox (Germany) and Chennai’s resident French singer Betty Jardin. So what’s on the set list for their upcoming show? “A few of our original compositions,” responds Vishnu, and adds, “But we’re also going to be doing some covers by Shankar Tucker and my mentor John Anthony (guitarist with global fusion ensemble, kARNATriix).”
While it may be a little too early to talk about an album yet, Vishnu does bring up a five-city tour that the band has in the pipeline. In the meantime, whether you like carnatic beats or jazz or neither, you may want to check out this show just for curiosity’s sake. There will be no cliches at this concert.
Karmic Blues will be performing on Friday at Star Rock, Spring Hotel on Kodambakkam High Road at 8.30pm