Bengaluru seamlessly blends traditional musical roots with modern genres, creating a captivating fusion of sounds. From the classical strains of Carnatic and Hindustani music to the infectious beats of rock, jazz, and electronic genres, there is something for every musical taste. The city boasts a thriving live music culture, with numerous venues, cafes, and clubs hosting talented musicians, bands and independent artists. Bengaluru’s music scene serves as a melting pot, nurturing emerging talent and providing a platform for artistic expression, making it a haven for both aspiring and seasoned musicians. We look at a few musicians doing something special this World Music Day:
From Mug to Mike
Sunil Koshy used to be among the scores of people with an IT job in Bengaluru but whose passion lay elsewhere. He had to choose between songs and software — love and livelihood. Juggling both worked for a bit. But the more he was into music, the more it allured him. Around him, he saw more people, untrained in music but always eager to sing. This unrecognised tribe of bathroom singers, he realised, did not have a proper platform. So, in 2013, Sunil quit his job. With his wife, Archana, he started From Mug to Mike, wherein amateur singers can hone their hobby.
Also read | The sound of music in Bengaluru
Over the last 10 years, Sunil and his wife have trained over 10,000 people to sing better. “We have had doctors, managers, professors, homemakers, and students joining us. People now recognise From Mug to Mike,” he says.
Sunil also collaborated with some big names in Indian playback singing, including KS Chitra, Hariharan, Kumar Sanu, and P Srinivas. “One of our participants sang a duet with Kumar Sanu,” he says, “We have tried to be a bridge between the music industry and the general public.”
For World Music Day, Sunil has composed and sung an anthem, ‘Sur Mein Rangeen Hui’, with seven From Mug To Mike participants, including software professionals, a bank manager and a dentist. The song will be on From Mug to Mike’s YouTube channel.
Sunil and his wife often produce an anthem for a few special days in the calendar such as Women’s Day, Disability Day and Music Day, wherein they involve participants who have never sung in a studio before. In this regard, Sunil and Archana’s decade-old venture has lived up to its name. For, people literally go from holding mugs to microphones.
Thermal And A Quarter and MoonArra
Perhaps one of the city’s best known indie bands, Thermal and a Quarter, has certainly stood the test of time. Founded by guitarist and singer-songwriter Bruce Lee Mani along with drummer Rajeev Rajagopal in 1996, the band is all set to release their ninth album.
“World Music Day is very, very special for Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ). Early on in our career, we would look forward to performing at all free events organised on this day to promote budding musicians and live music. The audiences at World Music Day events are also genuine live music lovers and it was great building a reputation amongst these audiences. It’s a great occasion for all musicians,” says Rajeev Rajagopal, drummer and co-founder of TAAQ.
Also read | TAAQ: We are a product of Bangalore’s inclusivity
The band’s USP is also their muse — their music centres around the city of Bengaluru. Their love for the city has seen them play at varied venues, irrespective of its size, says Bruce Lee.
“Music is the single most powerful, most unifying mode of communication in the world today. It brings people from all walks of life and geographical locations together with its message of peace, goodwill and communal harmony which is vital in the arts today,” says Jagdeesh MR, guitarist and co-founder of MoonArra.
MoonArra melds jazz, Indian classical music and world musical in their work, marking their own place in the city’s music scene from 2006. Jazz, classical music and world music being an accquired tastes, MoonArra’s offerings will appeal to certain palates only.
Currently, the band is on their 10th international concert tour, performing in Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary.
“I wanted to bring out the gravity of loss felt by the survivors,” says Sruthi Vijayachandran (Sruthi VJ) whose single, Snatched Away, released on June 21. The heart-wrenching song which begins with a voice clip of Sandy Phillips, herself a survivor and the co-founder of Survivors Empowered, a support group for people who have lost loved ones in mass shootings “is a heartrending pop ballad about the anguish of a parent who has lost their child to a tragic school shooting.”
The idea for the song began in June of last year, soon after the mass shootout at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24. “There have been many such incidents, of course, but this one really shook me,” says Sruthi, who shuttles between Bengaluru and California. “The fact that it took close to an hour and a half for law enforcement to confront the shooter was so frustrating. The song was born out of that frustration.”
She began reading up and listening to the stories of people who had survived the loss of their loved ones in mass shootings, even reaching out to some survivors. “I wanted to bring out the survivors’ perspective, the gravity of the loss they experience,” says Sruthi, whose music is usually a blend of both Western and Indian influences, courtesy her own professional background and training.
This one, however, is different, she says. “It is not for me as an artist but a way to create awareness about something on all our minds,” she admits, adding, “Art is a really powerful medium to create awareness about things that demand attention.”
Kannada film director and composer-singer, SD Arvinda has composed a song, ‘Haadu Beke Beku’, to celebrate World Music Day.
The song, a poem written by Basavaraj Okkunda, is composed by Arvinda who has also sung it and made it into a music video, which will be released today on his YouTube channel, Goals & Dreamz, as part of World Music Day celebrations.
“I believe we do not need one specific day to celebrate music as it is blended in nature and has a positive impact on the listener. We listen to songs when we workout, walk, drive. A dedicated day for music only makes it more special. I have always launched a song or music video for festivals and pre-programmed our national anthem with children for Children’s Day. This song is my small contribution to celebrate World Music Day.“
Okkunda is Arvinda’s professor from his college days, whom he met after many years. “I was looking to compose something unique and my professor’s poem appealed to me which led to our collaboration and the release of the song.”
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