Making of a Show

The sky is the roof and the beauty of nature forms the four walls.

Written by Nupur Chaudhuri | Published:February 27, 2012 12:50 am

Artistes Swanand Kirkire,Sidd Coutto,Nikhil D’Souza and Ankur Tewari stepped out of their studios to camp with small groups of listeners. A behind-the-scenes look at their informal jam sessions for this new indie rock show

The sky is the roof and the beauty of nature forms the four walls. Simple,raw music fills the air. A group of 30 outdoorsy people appreciate the notes,lyrics and rhythms. The jam session is interspersed with conversations – about dreams and inspirations,about life and music. It brings the artiste closer to his listeners. “I found it so refreshing. Five or six years ago,the concept of the audience and performer was restricted to concerts. It was a very detached kind of interaction,” says singer Nikhil D’Souza. D’Souza,along with lyricist and singer Swanand Kirkire,singer Sidd Coutto and music composer and singer Ankur Tewari are part of a new indie rock show – The Great Gig In The Sky.

Conceptualised by Jumpstart,a Mumbai-based group that organises outdoor activities,these artistes accompanied groups of 25-30 people for two-day treks and camps and jammed with them. D’Souza’s group camped at Nilshi Lake,near Lonavala. “I was approached in November and was quite excited about this little camping trip. In a nutshell,it was about just bringing out the guitar and singing. There were no barricades,no large crowds. It was about being with people,doing what they do and having an informal singing session,” he describes.

For the artistes,this music adventure helped them explore the musician within them. “Take a song,strip it down and improvise. It was very intimate. The footage brings that out,” adds the singer who is currently working on developing his skills as a songwriter. He’s working on an album which is in the alternative pop space with a bit of folk. “It’s mostly melodically driven,where the voice and lyrics stand out. I like having interesting musical arrangements within my song,” he says.

Coutto camped at Bordi beach near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border with his group. “I love the ocean. It was like a good party. Everyone just hung out and sang,” he says. While such a concept brings the listener and the artiste closer,Coutto says,“The bridging has been taking place for a while now ever since people caught on to the Internet bus. The disconnect has eroded away.” Agreeing with him,Tewari quips,“On this show,I got to meet people from various fields and not only media people like it usually happens. Everyone shared their experiences,talked of their work and their road trips to Ladakh.”

While Kirkire travelled to the caves near Thana,Tewari and his group visited the hill-station Igatpuri. He describes it as “stunning and unusual”. “The point that sold the concept to me was that we were going to a place with no cell-phone signal. We were so disconnected from the rest of the world – in the midst of nature,by a lake. To top it all,it was the night of the lunar eclipse so the whole setting was quite magical,” he says.

The very concept of music has evolved in the country,they say. Boundaries are disappearing and new genres are being accepted. “We’re all living in a big world of music now,” says Coutto. “But,we are still a bit slow in catching up with western trends. For example,I was doing rock music 16 years ago,but it’s popular in the mainstream now. Dubstep is an international rage right now,so naturally it’s very ‘underground’ in India,” he feels.

(The show will be aired every Friday,from March 9,on Big CBS Spark)

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