THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As Sachin Mannath starts singing ‘thaku thithannam theyyannam…’, the song that captures the charm and elegance of traditional folk music in Kerala, Sahiljeet Singh from Punjab also hums in sync.
The dictum ‘music is boundless’ is the watchword for ‘Niche the Band’ formed by a set of youngsters from various states of India who are the alumni of KM Music Conservatory set up by music maestro A R Rahman. ‘Niche the Band’ is inspired by numerous genres of music - Carnatic, Hindustani, Ghazal, Western Classical, Country and Jazz music and maintains a cross-culture style.
The team has Sachin Mannath, Abhinav S, Rituraj Sen and Sahiljeet Singh on vocals, Rachintan Trivedi on keys, Eldo Abraham on base guitar, Akshay Yesodharan on lead guitar and Ganesan S on drums.
While forming the band in 2010 December, their lone aim was to realise the dream of their role model A R R, who wanted his students to come up with a new genre of music that could challenge the film music industry.
The approach of the band is to preserve the ethnicity of every kind of music. Vocalist Sachin Mannath says, “each one of us is trained in more than one genre of music. If one sings Carnatic music for the band, the same person can sing Ghazals too. But we intentionally keep away from mixing them together.”
In the rendering of the background music also, the band strictly adheres to this principle. For every song, the accompanying background score is played according to its own ethnic style.
Ganesan, who has a formal grounding in playing mridangam, western drums, western classical percussion and traditional percussion in Tamil Nadu is ready to play any beat according to the song. “As I am accustomed to the Carnatic style, it is easy to understand the rhythms and play background to any kind of music,” he says.
Abhinav S, who sings Western classical and Hindustani music, finds that the blend of cultures in their music is appealing to the audience. “Opera defines western classical music for most of us in India. We change such perceptions with our take on Western classical and deliver a new kind of music,” he says. Sachin adds, “as we switch from one piece to the other, we are conscious about the scale. We thus connect songs of the same raga and scale.”
Another fascinating aspect of their performance is the way they hand over the microphone from one person to the other.
They say it is a method taught by ARR . “In the beginning, this was an altogether different experience for us. But he told us to do it this way than keep a separate mike for each singer,” adds Sachin.
Still, they say, ARR never insisted on anything. According to Sachin, the teachers at KM Conservatory are given the freedom to teach the students according to their own approach. Even in devising the curriculum, Rahman gave a freehand to the teachers.
“It was only during some meetings at KM that we met Rahman sir. But he instilled a lot of confidence in us,” says Sachin.
And the team plays Rahman’s ‘kunfayakun’, the Qawwali from the movie Rockstar, as the opening song for their performances as a ‘guru dakshina’ for their teacher.
The Chennai based team was in the city recently to perform at ‘prayag’, the gala event hosted by International Federation of Indian Dance and Dance Guru.