Band of Girls

Four women from different musical backgrounds are one of the rare multi-lingual bands on the indie music circuit

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published:August 18, 2013 1:19 am

A tiny studio in Bandra,Mumbai,has been buzzing with a unique sound for sometime now. Four women,who call themselves Indiva,have been jamming here for a little over six months to create “world music fusion”. The girls,from different parts of the country,fiercely believe they are divas. Once we tune into their soundscape,their story unfolds.

The studio — Music Mode — owned by popular pianist and composer Merlin D’Souza,has witnessed a variety of recording sessions over the years. But for the past six months,it has had a dream run with a project nurtured by D’Souza for two decades. Around the same time,she came across jazz and blues vocalist Vivienne Pocha,and was almost instantly taken in by her soulful voice. “With a beautiful voice like hers,it’s hard not to be impressed,” says D’Souza. Forming mutual admiration clubs,the two went on to work together on a slew of projects that included corporate gigs,jingles and Bollywood projects. “But we always wanted to do our own thing,” says D’Souza,who was always on the lookout for like-minded musicians and finally roped in Carnatic classical vocalist Hamsika Iyer,followed by violinist Shruti Bhave. The quartet released their eponymous debut album last month and will soon be touring the country.

“Initially,I was nervous. But it felt great when everything fell into place after we began jamming. Also,Merlin and Vivienne are stage people while I am a studio person. So I am still getting used to the idea of live performances,” says Iyer,who recently toured with Juno Reactor,composer of The Matrix.

Bhave,who hails from a family of musicians,learnt to play the Hindustani classical style of violin from her father,Rajendra Bhave. Apart from the notations and the style of playing,she also sits down to play the instrument. But while performing with the band,Bhave has to play standing,a change she had to bring about. “I have always been interested in trying new things. At first I did not know what to add to the mix. But now I am more comfortable blending in my pieces with our folk-fusion sound,” says Bhave.

The nine-track self-financed album is also multi-lingual comprising songs in Sanskrit,Bengali,Marathi,Tamil,Konkani,Hindi and English. All four describe the sound as a mishmash of jazz,Carnatic,Hindustani and folk music blended with electronic sounds. The album opens with an upbeat Colours,where the four are chanting Sanskrit shlokhas paired in a simple drum arrangement. This is followed by a qawwali paired with a rap piece and a Kannada folk song,Mannid. “The moment you involve a record label,things don’t sound organic as everyone wants to have their inputs used. In a self-financed project you are not answerable to

anyone but your audience,” says D’Souza.

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