The recognition Indian classical music has won in the West is undeniable and how ‘Winds of Samsara’, Bengaluru-based Ricky Kej’s collaborated album, bagged the Best New Age Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards only attests to it.
And, the honour for the album that topped the billboard charts with its fluid, soothing and masterfully charted music has made Kochiite Keerthi Narayanan, the music arranger in it, a name to reckon with.
His tryst with ‘Winds of Samsara’ was not only one of extreme gratification but also a high in his career graph. “I am happy that the honour has arrived late because all the years in the industry has only made me a better musician,” says Keerthy Narayanan.
He also played the keyboard for the album, which was a concerted effort of 120 musicians from five continents.
“It is a matter of pride that in the west, they look up to Indian music. International artists are very curious to know about the scope of Indian music, including Carnatic. I am always passionate about new-age music because it gives you so much liberty. There is no set structure and technical limitation. It is so minimalist and simple,” says Keerthy.
And Ricky Kej has been lucky charm for him.
“I have known him for almost a decade. We had worked together for many advertisements and when he planned the album with me, there was no talk of Grammy. But, when we won the nominations, the hopes were high,” he says. He says the work on the album began almost three years ago. “New-age music evolves over the years. When Ricky came to me with ‘Winds of Samsara’, I suggested we use a lot of Indian instruments in the background like Veena, nadaswaram and sitar. We recorded parts of the album at Sound Factory, a studio at Panampilly Nagar here. It was bliss working for the album because we never pre-planned anything. We put the musicians at comfort level and recorded it at their natural best,” says Keerthy.
Besides, there are a few other Malayalis who worked in the album. Herald Anthony, Francis T S, Francis Xavier and Jose Kutty were in the strings section
Krishna Kumar played the sitar; Biju was on the veena; Gopi played nadaswaram and Gayathri Suresh and Gopu Krishnan were the classical vocalists.
Keerthy ventured into the world of music after finishing class X and completed III grade examination at Trinity College. After returning home, he performed in a band Firefly at Bubble Cafe after which he decided to move to Chennai. The turning point in his life came when he met Prasanna Shekar who worked as a music director for Ram Gopal Varma movies. This association helped him work in many Hindi, Kannada and Tamil and Malayalam movies.
Now, that the honour has given him a tout in the music industry, Keerthy Narayanan is looking forward to heading for better avenues. Would he like to compose music for movies? “I like composing but I think I am more comfortable doing the background score. While a musician enjoys liberty in background score a composer has to be go by the demands of the story,” says Keerthy.