Between a Rock and Jazz Place

Between a Rock and Jazz Place

Musician Aditya Balani on straddling a variety of genres and his new EP Constants and Variables.

Almost a decade ago, in an up-and-coming Indian indie music scene, where genres were quite clearly defined and rock and metal dominated the scene, Aditya Balani — a Berkley alumnus and the founder of jazz/world music collective Aditya Balani Group — stood in a corner, playing a fretless guitar, blurring those lines that had come to be known more clearly than one can think of. With a jazz style which comes with touches of Indian classical microtones to it, he continued embracing and embroidering what he heard, and in the process presenting an original sound.

His first album Answers came right out of that. So when his new EP, Constants and Variables, comes from the marquee of alt rock and some pop, it may seem like a surprising turn from the kind of sound one associates with him, but somewhat not hard to understand.

Balani believes that he isn’t moving away from his sound. For him, this is a “parallel universe” he straddles and is happy doing so. “As a songwriter, I have been writing material for years now. Whatever inspires me, I tend to go in that direction. And lately I have been working with this style (alt rock and pop) a little more, so I thought it was the right time to come out with Constants and Variables,” says 31-year-old Balani, who in the past, has been associated with bands such as Advaita, Incognito, Think Floyd and Crimson, and is still a fixture in many.

Balani’s new EP, the sound of which swings between alt rock and pop, with some electronic influences, is his latest entry into a space he had been wanting to try for sometime. The song Constants and Variables came before the album did. The rest of the four tracks were also composed quite quickly.

“How you create these mental equations in your head to rationalise everything in your life is what the song is all about. The rest of the songs just happened almost immediately,” says Balani, “I have let music be as organic as possible. Initially I was more driven by heavy rock sounds, very guitar centric, later on I got heavily into Hindustani and jazz. I really like these different harmonic and sonic palettes,” says Balani, who recorded the album at Cotton Press Studio in Mumbai. He will be soon be collaborating with a Welsh band Burun for a tour.Musician Aditya Balani on straddling a variety of genres and his new EP Constants and Variables.