Indian Ocean musical band is best classified as Indo-rock fusion with jazz-spiced rhythms that integrates shlokas, sufism, mythology and revolution.
In a long spanning career of almost three decades, Indian Ocean band has come a long way. It is no surprise that the band comprises of sought-after musicians and boasts of an amazing bonding along with a right sense of music in each of them. Even though the band has gone through the thick and thin of the Indian music industry, there has been no looking back ever since their song Bandeh released in 2004.
After giving countless performances across the world, today the Indian Ocean band has created a name for itself for its radically different and fresh music style. Even though the team of five musical minds have breathed many songs together over the years, it fails to summarise their voyage.
“I can’t put down the journey of 29 years in one paragraph or on one page, it’s extremely difficult, I can just say that music has brought all of us together and helped us stick to it,” says Rahul Ram, the bassist of Indian Ocean, who along with his team has recently performed in Mumbai at the Harmony Fest and Grace Day of Angel Xpress Foundation last Sunday.
The always-recognisable music of Indian Ocean band has not just pioneered the fusion rock genre but also paved the way for balancing conventional and unconventional music. Indeed, all the members of the Indian Ocean band bring something unique to the mix.
While Himanshu Joshi, the vocalist has a background in classical and light music and loves Urdu ghazals, Tuheen Chakraborty is well versed with Tabla, Nikhil Rao brings a range of interests from Carnatic to rock to jazz, Amit Kalim grew up with rock, Bollywood and Kashmiri folk music and Rahul’s musicianship is shaped by his experiences with rock, folk, tribal music and playing bass in Jaagran bands.
“The common interest of all members of the band is to make a good song together. None of us is brilliant individually. The idea is to play music with and for each other,” says Nikhil while adding that they often critique and hone each other’s ideas, “The process gets heated at times and it often takes us months to come up with a satisfactory compromise.” However, the drummer Amit interrupts saying that ultimately, everyone realises this process is necessary in order to make a good sound collectively, “That is always the goal.”
Though the team is evolving over time with the presentation and creating their rhythms, according to Amit they still follow the same initial idea of making the music they like. “We are imbibing new stuff and experiences yet (our music) sound like us,” he smiles.
While success in the entertainment industry is hardly assured, Amit too reasons that nothing can assure the success of any band. Ask a key for them to stand the test of time, Amit explains, “It is based on the fact that there has never been a deliberate attempt at creating music. The compositions evolve naturally and take time in becoming something that the whole band owns and nurtures.” He further insists, “We have a wide audience and we love playing at college festivals, which gives us an audience base that stays on and grows.”
It’s been a near three decades that the band is active and the music scene is very different from when the Indian Ocean forayed into the world of assembled music. “The change has been slow but steady. More places for live music, more artists, and more avenues are lined up,” proclaims Amit. The drummer also agrees on the fact that the emergence of the Internet, as the main distribution medium for music, has made it easier for everyone to put out their music for all. “This helps in more artists being seen and heard. The dominant portion of the population is young and they are open to listening to new music,” he believes.
When asked if the fusion and remake is taking over the original classical music, Amit denies the popular notion elucidating that remake can’t exist without new music and states that fusion has been happening in Bollywood since ages, “We have been looking at generous use of folk and classical in our film songs and in independent music.” Though the musician concludes the conversation asserting, “Bollywood music is being made to only sell and fulfil the commerce aspect.”