I thought it was spam,its not everyday that you wake up to the news of being selected to perform at an Olympics event, says 24-year-old Vandana Srinivasan,over the phone from Chennai. There is a certain vibrant energy,nervous excitement and sense of achievement in her voice. After all,she is the vocalist of Chennai-based fusion band Staccato that has been chosen from among 10,000 entries from Asia to perform at Olympic Park,London,as part of the cultural exchange extravaganza on the sidelines of the sporting event. The band has been allotted four 35-minute slots at the event two each on July 30 and August 2.
What started off as a school band in 2001-2002 at Chettinad Vidyashram in MRC Nagar,Chennai,with five members Ajay Gnanasekaran,Vikram Sarathy,Tapass Naaresh,Balasubramanian and Sruthi Sagar finally became Staccato in 2007,as three more joined in. Staccato will be a 15-member outfit during the London performance. We have roped in a few more musicians to come to London with us,including a DJ.
We want to do our best, says Gnanasekaran.
Busy with long rehearsals for their big gig,the bands excitement knows no bounds. It all began six months ago when the youngest member of the group,Kaashif Rafiq,secretly sent the demo tapes of their performances to the London 2012 Organising Committee. Once we got the confirmation letter,we were both excited and nervous. We had no sponsors and we were not sure how everyone from the band would be able to make it to London,but now,we have a few of them fighting over us, says Gnanasekaran,the percussionist and manager of the band,with a laugh. Immediately,he adds,Danny Boyle (known most for his film Slumdog Millionaire) is the creative director of the society and he chose us. Its a proud moment.
The band that comprises eight to 15 members,depending on their availability,creates a concoction of sounds from across the world. Their music can be categorised as contemporary classical due to the use of alaaps,and it also falls under the world music genre.
If one takes some time to listen to their original compositions Sound of Air and Salsa influences from across the world come through abundantly. Computers are good substitutes but we love being able to create music in its rawest form on stage. We add a bit of trivia,too,about the instruments we use and make the audience feel a part of the band, adds Srinivasan. Apart from a few originals,the band does Staccato-ised covers of musical giants such as A R Rahman and Illaiyaraja,and impromptu jam sessions on the stage.