Spirits Unlimited

Vasuda Sharma,who shot to fame with pop band Aasma a decade ago,talks about her latest solo album and life after Chandu ke chacha.

Written by Debjani Paul | Published:May 17, 2013 12:16 am

Vasuda Sharma,who shot to fame with pop band Aasma a decade ago,talks about her latest solo album and life after Chandu ke chacha.

A decade ago,teen Hindi-pop band,Aasma released their first album with the song Chandu ke Chacha and suddenly,they went viral,jumping and exhorting people to “get up and dance” in the music video. Compare that to the mellow and almost wistful sounding track,Jaagi Jaagi Raina that one of the Aasma band members Vasuda Sharma released online last year. Sharma’s mellifluous and classically-trained vocal style was striking even in the group ensemble of Chandu ke chacha,but her new track is a world apart. Jaagi Jaagi Raina,from her new album Attuned Spirits,is gentle and easy to listen to; it’s raga-based but at the same time,it uses Western instruments such as the violin,mandolin and the saxophone to make for a Indian/Jazz fusion out of it.

“It’s been 10 years since we got selected for Aasma. That was not planned at all. I was in the first year of college and my parents wanted me to get into the civil services. Then the talent hunt for pop stars began and my friends told me to sing a song at the audition just for kicks,” says Sharma. As it turned out,Sharma got selected and began her musical career as a popstar at the age of 18. The band was wildly popular for a while,but for Sharma,it wasn’t enough. “Aasma was a manufactured band and we didn’t get a chance to write songs. As musicians,the sound that we wanted individually didn’t come out,” she says.

At that point,Sharma was confused about the direction she wanted to take with her music,but decided that she needed to interact with other musicians. “When I got a scholarship to Berklee College of Music,I went and studied Western music theory. In the first semester,I felt extremely dumb because I was the only one who didn’t know anything about the theory. But now,as a musician,I feel equipped as I can write music and communicate with other musicians,” she says. “But what changed me completely was meeting other musicians from places like Jordan and Turkey,” she says.

Attuned Spirits,she says,uses the same confluence of Indian and world music,and is a collaborative effort of musicians from 11 countries. “I finished five songs while I was at Berklee and I’m mixing them now. For the other songs,we fix up studio sessions on Skype. It may sound funny,but if you want something to work,you can make it happen even on Skype,” she says.

Even the funding for her album found an unusual source. Sharma is among the first few Indian artistes to reach out for crowdfunding. She placed a request for funds on the crowdfunding platform Wishberry.in and received over Rs 5,64,000 as contributions.

For now,Sharma intends to release the album by late August or early September,and is considering releasing it through distributors or independently. The album will have a mostly Indian raga-based pieces with folk intonations. At the same time,the Western instruments will bring in world music influences.

Sharma will play four new songs from the album at her upcoming gig at High Spirits on Friday at 8.30 pm.

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