Contriving Mash-ups

Baiju Dharmajan,known best as Motherjane’s lead guitarist,is set to play a mix of new material incorporating Carnatic sounds.

Written by Rushil Dutta | Published:November 19, 2013 5:21 am

Baiju Dharmajan grew up in a family of musicians in Kerala. While his grandfather was an established Carnatic musician,his father was a music enthusiast who played the guitar. For young Dharmajan,it meant getting exposed to several sorts of indigenous music. Set to take the audience by storm at Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday with The Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate,the musician looks back at an illustrious career as Motherjane’s lead guitarist and talks about his ongoing projects.

“I grew up listening to Malayalam and Tamil film music,” says Dharmajan,who does not remember being introduced to the genres of Western music as a child. “I was later influenced by Western forms of music — guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix,Jimmy Page and the whole bandwagon of rock greats. But the music I heard as a child is still what I can play effortlessly,” he adds.

He says that there hasn’t been much in terms of formal training in music. “My first tryst with an instrument was the violin,which I learned for a while and then left. I started playing the guitar when I was about 15,having taken very basic preliminary lessons on modes and scales,” says Dharmajan,adding,“I think I have a keen ear,which I relied on to learn and build my repertoire.”

Even during his early years as a musician with a band called Wrenz,Dharmajan recalls trying to emulate Carnatic sounds on the guitar. “I remember incorporating Carnatic scales to the compositions,but the band wanted to keep the Carnatic influences under check,” says Dharmajan,adding “I then moved on to Motherjane,with whom I played a little over a decade and had the freedom to explore various forms of music.” Now,functioning out of a new phase in his life,Baiju’s working on two projects. The Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate,which is to visit the city in a couple of days,sees Dharmajan serving his music with an extra serving of Carnatic. “I see this project as the next level after Motherjane. The outfit is also cutting a eponymous album,due to release in January 2014. We’ll be playing a mix of our new material and Motherjane songs at Pune,” says Dharmajan,busy making alternative progressive metal with his parallel project Antaraka.

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