Shriram Sampath and Swarupa Ananth, two musicians who go by the name, Filter Coffee, are not your usual brew-geeks attempting to serve an unusual concoction. lThe duo is pouring out a bend of classical music and electronica to deliver a sound they think is “experimental and not specific to a certain kind of audience”. As for the moniker, it comes from the duo carrying their own coffee powder to their performances. “And of course to the fact that we’ve grown up in south Indian homes where the aroma is associated with goodness in life,” says Shriram, 32, the outfit’s flautist and music producer. Filter Coffee also fitted their tossed up sound and the name was born.
Filter Coffee is the newest entrant into the indie music circuit and is making waves in the Asian underground. Their recent album titled Raagatronic, which released earlier this year and merged Indian classical ragas with an electronic soundscape, has been received quite well. So have their last three tours in the UK, where audiences have lapped up their hypnotic grooves and intricate rhythm structures.
“This is a way of making classical music more palatable to a younger audience. Not many people want to go and listen to a full-fledged classical concert. This is classical music repackaged for the current generation,” says Ananth, 28-year-old percussionist. Ut Allah Rakha, whose music school in Mumbai taught her how to play the tabla, would have probably frowned upon the statement if he was alive. But Ananth is unfazed. “How do you keep the interest alive? This, I believe, is definitely a way,” says Ananth, a third generation musician.
Sampath and Ananth aren’t too worried about the audience being liberal or conservative to their music and are all set to explore more.
“The audience is and has always been liberal. Now, what’s available, are the venues to showcase this kind of music,” adds Sampath.
Neighbours in Mumbai’s Matunga, the two met through common friends and began jamming together almost a decade ago. But the idea of Filter Coffee was born recently. “We were playing pure acoustic sets with live musicians. But we were also listening to other kind of music. I still believe that a live band can never be replaced by a laptop. But it’s also interesting to experiment with what textured sounds can really do. Our music is a byproduct of our experiments,” says Sampath, who took lessons in bamboo flute from Pt Ronu Majumdar. The two are now preparing to perform at the three-week long Wassmusik Music Festival in Berlin. They are also aiming at converting their folktronic set into a live one. “We are looking at budgets and other logistics to figure out how that would be feasible. There are exciting things to follow,” says Sampath.