Interview with Anushree Gupta

Vidula, the founder of BuffyFish, went exploring the coast of the Indian Peninsula, along with 6 other wonderful women, over 28 days, across 8 states, in January 2015. She did this in a vehicle called the Mahindra Scorpio Adventure 4×4 vehicle. This vehicle was sponsored by Mahindra. She started her journey in Mumbai, which lies on the west coast of Indian Peninsula and ended it Kolkata, West Bengal, which lies on the east coast of the Indian Peninsula. Every state that she visited, she interviewed one interesting woman. She interviewed Anushree Gupta, the singer of Sukanti and Anushree, which is an electronica band project, from Kolkata.

Anushree Gupta talked to Vidula about her early life, training in Hindustani Classical Music, how music is her life, who her influences were, how she is self-made, her 2 albums, and the challenges she faces as a musician, among other things.

Read on for more below…

Vidula – Tell us something about yourself. Your family life and how did you start music?

Anushree – Music started partially on a surprise note because I have been in Kolkata. I was born and raised here in Kolkata. I did my schooling here. I did my graduation here, science honors. I did my post grad in journalism from St. Xavier’s, Mumbai. I have always passionate about writing. I am a reader and love writing. But music is something I grew up. My family is filled with people passionate about music and theatre. So theatre is something I always enjoyed watching but acting was kind of a nightmare for me. Music is something I have loved. I used to write songs. And eventually after I was done with my graduation and post grad I thought I don’t just want to write something that gets vomited out the next day in the newspapers. And I didn’t think much. Music just took a toll over me and then I started travelling and learning music outside my training. My training was in Hindustani Classical, for 14 years, ever since I was 6 years old. Then I got interested in folk music because I thought folk is the source of all kinds of music in the world and I might as well delve a little deeper down that side. Then I started with BAUL because it is folk music from Bengal. Then I delved into folk from Punjab and Gujarat and Rajasthan and then it started and then we formed a band and I am one half of the electro-acoustic duo Sukanti and Anushree. And we do music in our own space. A lot of electronica, so it is fusing electronica with folk and our own music, our originals!

Vidula – What is the band lineup like?

Anushree – It is a duo. The sound is massive because we use a lot of high energy electronica as well as ambient depending on the essence of the song and the way we want to treat it. And we do a lot of original compositions as well as a lot of folk from the sub-continent.

Vidula – So you said you had a formal education in Indian classical, how do you value that?

Anushree – It is very difficult for me to comment on Indian classical music because I have grown up with it. The way I looked at it personally is that it has really helped me with the vocal exercises. I do my riyaaz on that. But I can’t be just that. I do respect lyrical content and all that I get in folk. Classical music has come from folk music. Persian folk has a huge influence of classical music and those are about the stories, the rustic sufferings. Even blues – it has come from suffering. IF you have to understand music, you have to understand suffering, you have to understand pain and it is where the best of the musical genres have emanated. Indian classical I would say is great for vocal training. It is great to lubricate your voice and to keep it in shape and for me that is where it should be. I enjoy light classical. I am not a person who would just go to a concert and do the math and ensure that the one is correct. I don’t like that zone. I like the melody side of it.

Vidula – What were you early musical influences?

I grew up on a lot of 70s rock and roll. I love CSNY. I love Yard birds. Beatles of course, that goes without saying. I still listen to them. I listen to the new guys but they are always new. Because they are always ahead of time! They have definitely been the primary source of influence to do music on my own terms.

Vidula – Who were your teachers?

Anushree – My teacher for Hindustani classical music was Ma’am Veena Chaudhari. She taught me Hindustani classical and Rabindra Sangeet. Those were the two formal training zones for me.

Vidula – Who were your Indian musical influences?

Anushree – Major source of information was my teacher. I enjoy Shobha Gurtu ji. I enjoy Girija Devi ji. I love Alla Rakha compositions. But not a range of musicians.

Vidula – What did you grow up listening to?

I listened to rock and roll. There were cassettes back then and that time when you had to buy music it was expensive, Rs. 75 per tape, back in 200. My brother and I used to save money together and used to sign these tapes. It was our property. It was a romanticized possession. We used to get a lot of records and cassettes.

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Vidula – what sort of music did your family listen to?

Anushree – They always were into Bengali contemporary music, Adhuni Bangla. That is what they grew up on. My father just retired last April in 2014. He was working in Bharat Petroleum. He was heavily into music and theatre. He was always into theatre whenever it happened in his office. My mother was a great singer. I love her voice. My grandfather was a very good song writer. He was also into theatre. They listened to a lot of Bangla music from the 50s and the 60s and the 70s like Uttam Kumar and all that music from that time.

Vidula – Do you have any influences in Bollywood?

Anushree – Bollywood it covers a huge world, it covers a hell lot of things. I love good Bollywood music. Just the way I love good music. I like exploring music that is not easily available. Bollywood is something like you get on to an Auto Rickshaw you are over exposed to it. And anything that you are over exposed to after a point it is not. For instance – Malika Sherawat – The guys are tired. I have seen it all. It is just the way good music needs exposure also if you play the same song over and over again it is too much. I find a lot of patterns that are similar. They are producing at such a frequent rate that the quality will drop.

Vidula – What sort of audience does Sukanti and Anushree get?

The useful audience, young crowds, the guys and girls who are energetic, who love to trip on music; the sound is very high energy. Electronica is groovy, it is psychedelic, so people who can catch that groove and feel it in their body and lyrically it is very relevant because we take up songs which have very strong lyrical content and that is why we have songs by Bulle sha and Sultan bahuji and Lalan fakir, who I worship personally because of what he said and he had the guts to speak his mind which no body had, at that time. So that’s what I value a lot along with the sound and all of that.

Vidula – Where were your earliest gigs?

Anushree – The first gig that I did professionally, being a part of a band, was with a project called “Ashram” which was kind of an electronica outfit but their sound and our sound right now are very different which didn’t eventually take off. Rock C at park hotel and that is where we had our first gig. That is where we had our launch gig. That didn’t work out. I hibernated for a year and I was writing songs. Then I came to Sukanti, who was also a part of that project. Sukanti is the lead guitarist of “division”, which is a 12 year old band. It is the pioneer English rock band from India. I had always had a lot of respect for him as a guitar player. And then he is also a beautiful, kickass producer. So then I approached him and told him “I was writing songs. Would you take a look at it? Can you help me audition musicians?” Also he was very busy at the time. And then he was helping me audition and then we landed up together and I didn’t like any guy who was playing for the audition. I loved what he was playing. And I asked him “would you want to play?” and then he said give me a week and if I give you a commitment I will stick by it. So in a week he said yes!

Vidula – how long ago was this?

Anushree – 3 years ago in 2011. In 2011 we were a trio which eventually became a duo. So as a duo, Sukanti and Anushree it has been a 2 years.

Vidula – What was the first tune you ever learned?

Anushree – Rag Yaman was the first musical piece I ever learnt

Vidula – When you are not doing your own music, what do you listen to, these days?

Anushree – Recently, I found a piece by this woman called “Alusha”. She collaborated with M C Zani. It is ambient electronica. What a voice and what fusion! I have it at the back of my mind right now and that is what I have been tripping on at the moment. Otherwise it is Beatles. I might sound closed and locked up. But I am not closed up. It is just that I cannot help it. If I go and listen to’ Sexy Sadie”, it says it all.

Vidula – Do you perform for TV or radio?

Anushree – Yes. We’ve been doing that a lot. Other than performances our recent gig was at Hard rock café, in Pune, on 8th January 2015. And then a week later at Hard Rock Café, in Andheri, Mumbai on 15th Jan!

We just returned the day before yesterday from the North Bengal music festival. Other than that I collaborated for the big boss grand finale. I was not in big boss. But there was a musical performance at the end of it. We did a lot for ETV and Zee Bangla and lot of radio shows in Kolkata and Bangladesh. We had a gig in Bangladesh in 2012. That was a lovely, amazing show. People were very warm and lovely and they really love music from the bottom of their heart.

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Vidula – You don’t hear much about the music scene there. Why?

Anushree – They are in a political and a social turmoil. They want to do a lot of things but they get so crippled because of the system and the administration and so much of violence is going on. They really want to live and live in peace but they are just not being allowed to. And that is very sad. All my prayers are with them. I hope they get out of it and get to music the way they want to.

Vidula – how often do you practice?

Anushree – I practice every day. I do riyaaz every day.

Vidula – Do you practice new tunes or difficult tunes? How do you practice?

Anushree – As a band we obviously practice because we are meeting at the practice pad and sometimes we take a break when we get into the ear fatigue zone. Sometimes we listen to other music or don’t listen to anything at all. Maybe we will make some chicken. Because I have seen personally when you work, work, work and you are creating, suddenly you reach a stagnation point and then you are like “This is something I created 5 minutes ago, it was nothing different.” Then we make some coffee or do something manual it sort of unlocks your head. I see that working for me personally. We do a lot of other stuff other than music.

Vidula – Are you a full time musician?

Anushree – Yes. But I am also a music teacher at a school called baleganj shiksha sadan, BSS. It is a very beautiful school in Kolkata. I cannot do my early morning riyaaz now because school starts in the morning. What I do is when I go back to the practice pad, I do my riyaaz and then we begin practice.

Vidula – How did teaching happen?

Anushree – We are poor musicians. I didn’t have money. I needed money. And we are working for the gigs. I just thought teaching is the best thing that can happen. This job at the school gets over at 1230pm. There is no other job in the world that could get over at 1230pm. And if I do something it has to do with music. I cannot go to the bank and suddenly come back sing. There I will think about the music and when I am doing music, I will think about the bank. I will completely get messed up. But when you are teaching music and a class 8 guy comes and asks you ma’am what is this and what is that, then you realize that I actually don’ know and then I go back and do that research and I feel so enriched. Then you really think you are on the right path.

Vidula – how do you go about getting gigs?

Anushree – Initially you have to really hunt. You have to do a few gigs and get noticed and people call you give you gig. You still struggle because what happens is I don’t know but in this country average sells very easily. I personally agree with this. I don’t want anybody else to agree with me. That’s ok. If you make something very ahead of time, or if you make something really bad, then neither of that works. You have to make something average. It is very difficult for someone who creates something with a holistic perspective. We do it very organically. I am a very raw musician. I like to feel raw about the music. Music is as pure as a baby and as pure as life. I cannot do music with a back calculation or think that if I wear these kinds of clothes then people will come and then if use some kind of prop then people will come. It’s very difficult. Sometimes we do, but we do it in line with our music. There have been best of glam-rock bands and there is nothing wrong with that. But it is only a part of your music. You have to justify the use of a prop in music. I would love to use a lot of colors because our music is about celebrating colors. Even darkness, which is also a color! So as long as it is in line with our music, I am fine with it. But as far as getting gigs is concerned, it depends. You have to send your profile. For that first you have to make your profile. At least for the first few gigs you have to document your music and put it up on YouTube, send your profile, and then, you have to keep updating your profile because what happens is that profiles get old. Two years ago, the profile that we made is useless right now. Because we have evolved! Now the profile we will make will get old in another 2 years. It has to keep evolving. Keep updating it. But whatever is there you have to keep sending it. You have to look out for all the live venue platforms.

Vidula – Do you write your own songs? How do you write your own songs? Do you have an instrument that you use to write your own songs?

Anushree – Yes! I am a song-writer. In fact the first album of Sukanti and Anushree is called Ashmaan. It had all 8 originals that I wrote and we composed together. It actually got nominated for “Radio Mirchi music awards 2014” as the album of the year. I don’t exactly write with a message in my head but some of my songs have messages, some are abstract. There is this song called Dupa which means 2-feet. I wouldn’t want to lie here, but I wrote it for my women friends. I have seen this in some women. I don’t know but guys prolly get the same feeling. It is about these women who try to cling on to someone or something because they are scared of loneliness. It is about breaking free from the fear of loneliness. Even if it is a bad thing it is ok! There is shit in your hand, throw it, and plunge towards the darkness but it is better than questioning your self-respect every day. It is breaking free from the fear of loneliness and to see what it is like outside. Enjoy a cup of coffee by yourself without anyone coming and patting your back. It is ok. That is what the song is about.

Then there is a song which is unreleased. I strum it on my guitar sometimes. It is about this man who was cursed and ever since he was cursed he was scared of the rains. So he wears a raincoat all day and moves around. It is just pure fiction.

So there are these songs. I don’t write with a plan in my head. That time the head space that I am in, gives out a song.

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Vidula – Do you compose the tunes of the songs that you have written?

Anushree – Yes there are songs that I have composed. Then there is a song called “Ishita”, then Dupa. Many songs I have composed. But I am a limited guitar player. And then when Sukanti came into picture, it was so much fun composing together. I tell him a tune, and then he tells me to go to a minor or major 7 then it will sound hotter. So I like to mix and match ideas. But I like to make tunes by myself as well.

Vidula – So now are you learning music theory – as in Western music theory?

Anushree – I am more aware of theoretically aware of the eastern side. Theory wise I know more about Hindustani classical music better.

Vidula – is there a niche kind of audience for your kind of music or is it open to the masses?

Anushree – We have always kept our music open to the masses. It is the masses who decide. Till about now the feeling I have which I have been getting a lot these days is that the urban youth is more likely to listen to our kind of music the most. Also if it is the older crowd like we had a gig at IIT, New Delhi, where the average was about 55. There was a gentle man, my father’s age and he had come with the flute and was jamming with us from his seat. They connected with the soil factor. They didn’t understand the raga bit of it. They connected with the soil factor. Some people connect with the soil factor or some connect with the root somehow they get into the mood. And as long as it works, it is great. Apart from live music, which is a huge part of our repertoire (since, we do it all day), we have also done music for short films. Films that have the independent status right now, and are doing really well in the festival circuit! There again the work culture is very different. We are working in a studio and we are trying to write a tune, based on the visuals. So there of course we do keep in mind, how the audience will respond to that. It is very difficult to identify your crowd initially. When you start with a band you don’t have enough options. You cannot select your crowd. Wherever you get to play, you go play. After playing for 3 years and doing gigs more frequently, now we know and understand. We have figured it out. I hate to say, maybe in the rural sides or rather among the uneducated crowd, where people have no idea about what the folk mystics have tried to say or have spoken about! They celebrated life irrespective of discrimination that people have created. They have no idea! I cannot sing lalon songs or bulle sha’s songs to a crowd that doesn’t respect the very value system that they held. Their limitation is from coffee house song which was like an anthem song from Bengal – from ashiqui 2 to lungi dance. Sometimes we land up with those gigs and then we just play and get the hell out of there. Then it is just about the money. There are gigs where we really feel connected, where people actually exactly know! They are dancing to the music, they believe in what is being sung, and they know and understand the songs. That is the idea!

Vidula – Other than Sukanti and Anushree are you working on any other project?

Anushree – No. I can’t do too many things, because if I do too many things, I will distribute my efforts. This is the zone I want to work in. Why distribute my efforts? Why not look at one way and nurture it and just make it grow

Vidula – When you write your songs or make a rendition of the folk song, do you have access to those folk songs? Are they available on tapes or cassettes or CDs?

Anushree – Yes, we do have access to the folk songs. As far as folk is concerned there are some popular songs, some known and some unknown songs. We do a beautiful song called Katte. We do Damaa Dam Masta Kalandar. We do Jugni Ji. Sultan Lohri Ji’s song and they have interpreted in their way. We do a lot of Lalon fakri songs. I have had access to them because I have been doing my end of research work since 2006. I have been continuously digging these tunes so I try to get songs and feel them, see what is inside. I do the RnD and I never give that access to Sukanti because he is from a classic level background. He is all out western not just that but classic. He is from a different head space altogether and he has a different approach to music. The moment I make him listen to a song on a do-tara, he will be inhibited. Should I do this to the song? Is it ok? I don’t want him to go through that. I just tell him I’ll sing this song. He tells me “Don’t make me listen to the song”. Normally they are sung on a minimalistic instrumental arrangement. If he listens to that he will get a bias. He might back out from going all out. I don’t want that. I want him to be honest with his songs. I sing the songs to him and he gets the core from what I sing. Like morni bagama it is a lovely folk song. I wanted him to go all out and blast it. We have a high-energy, rock rendition! I don’t like the Bollywood way. I like the straight raw hit. I turned the song upside down. I take the lyrics and then I do it my way. And people don’t even remember what it was when we do it. But there they can connect because they can feel the song. So that is the idea!

Vidula – Does music pay well?

Anushree – Music is a difficult job. It is a difficult affair. Problem is that when people who go for it, stick to it, are people who can’t help it. You mind decides. I am not boasting, but I was a gold medalist in college. I am telling you this. I have been good in studies then your parents will tell you “You are so good at studies, then why music?”

I question the question “Did you want me to be an uneducated musician?” I have no regrets. I am fortunate that I have got the education and then I got into music because education gives you the perspective, if you really feel it. For many people who hold degrees, their thinking stops once you get the degree. And you actually take in what you want to, from the education and then pour it out into art that is where the magic begins. I tell every musician. Please study – you have to study. It could be chemistry but that will help your art. That will help a lot. I loved literature. How can I not like literature and write songs? How can I not read the poem on clouds and not think of clouds. It is all connected.

Vidula – Music scene here in India – Is it changing? What do you think about that? Are more people listening and opening up to live music?

Anushree – Well live music is a little on the low side. A lot of people are really trying to get it back. There are a lot of independent artists like Nikhil Udapa, Bobbin, Rishu, Darryl and so on. I might be forgetting some names. Do mention these names and they are really rock stars and they are really trying hard to get the music scene back and we are with them. And these efforts need to be more and more visible that can help people. I think people have to come out of their houses and listen to music. Entire culture has to shift to getting that energy out. I hope it comes back. It is not doing great because for example, in Kolkata there are very few bands that have made it big and are still there and are still playing. And in these 10 years, none of them have recovered. In 10 years, if somebody asks, what are the bigger bands? The names that have been taken in 1990 are the same ones that are taken even today. Independent musicians are not getting platforms. It is on the low or there are no platforms. If one band is called to the same college back to back for 7 years. In those 7 years, people who are actually good and who wanted to make it could not happen. What happens is that these musicians do some odd jobs say in ICICI bank and couldn’t hold up. It is not their fault entirely. It is very sad. People have to get out of their homes and come and listen to music. They have to stop clinging on to something they once find for their entire life. You have to grow. It is not the same music over and over again

Vidula – Do you think there is a need for a platform in India for the independent musicians?

Very few!

We need more platforms. For musicians, they have to feel united and not think about themselves. Think about the scene and the fraternity. I had a problem with the term Indie. What is Independent music?

I had heard someone say – What is it? Is it something that doesn’t sell? No – It is music that you make on independent terms. Mainstream Bollywood, independent this, why are you getting the terms confused. People don’t need to get into categories meaninglessly. I have no problem if my song is being used by Bollywood. I have no problem if I use a Bollywood song but the terms being used. It is pointless. It is not necessary

Vidula – Do you experiment with sound?

Anushree – Yes. Electronica allows you to experiment with sounds, try out diff grooves, and the frequency that actually hits you the right way in line with the song. Of course I would say when you are doing live performance, it is all about experimentation. When you experiment It is about the sound, how the audience reacts. The best aspect is silence. I love silence. It is like orgasm. It is about people sacredly connecting to music every point in diff ways. Sometimes playing low sometimes playing high! Playing with the different frequencies of your head!

Vidula – Are people open to experimentation?

Off late there is acceptance. I hope it gets better. People are getting better. Earlier it used to go above their head. They used to say “What are they doing? – common gaanaa bajao” play a song that we all know. All that happens! I think people who make songs that talk about a lungi or a butt really count on those uneducated losers to get the money out of. It is very sad that such people exist and such music gets played. I am confused. One of my heads tells me – Generate demand for shit. On the other hand I feel how can you generate if people were wise enough not to take it? Maybe if you keep feeding that shit then they will start taking it. It is the average that sells. That is also fair. Also I don’t believe in stealing. How can someone steal every day? I really don’t know. Will I stick to it? I don’t know. Good music can be sellable. You can fuse good music, with good presence with flashy, psychedelic atmosphere. Don’t feed shit.

Vidula – Are you trying to break the stereotype?

Anushree – We are doing it every day. We want to. I just did a few playbacks. Not too many people know about it. But in Kolkata, people say your voice is for Mumbai. I don’t want to. If you call me I’ll go. I am a workaholic because work is something that is closest to my heart and that is music. If somebody calls me to sing a song I will give my best performance. But I cannot go and say after you’ve had 17 coffees then you say “now let’s talk about work today” and then you give me dirty glances and then I think do I have to call home and say “I’m going to be late”. I just cannot get it. I am very lazy and am not interested in anything other than work. I am proactive with work and music. I’d rather get down to doing music rather than spending all that time. Maybe they will call me after 2 years. It’s ok. I am happy. I want to take it in a respectful manner. I want people to call me only when they want music from me. It can only happen when I have a repertoire of my own identity as a musician. I want to make music.

Vidula – Where all have you performed?

The first gig was at Techno India college, Kolkata; There were gigs in Bangladesh; Delhi many times; Mumbai – Hard Rock; Pune – Hard Rock; 34th Kolkata book fair; 3rd year with North Bengal music festival; Few more festivals coming up; Maybe few gigs in Goa this year.

Vidula – Do you like playing old songs or the newer songs that you have written?

Anushree – we actually keep playing the songs that are there in the album. They are songs that we had written a long time ago. We just unearth them. We play them. When you are doing an album it is important to see what sound you want from the album. All the songs are different. I like an album to give out different moods – crying, angry, sad, blissful, zonked out

I like to give that one trip in one album. That is something I like. Also that changes. Maybe this song is contemporary. It’s something that I recently wrote. But the melody is not going with the entire album. It will wait. That makes the decision. I look at everything as my own. We do a folk number or our own music. We start from scratch anyway. We take a bulle sha song and we forget what has been done with the song. Because the person who has composed the song has no idea what the song is all bout. He doesn’t know who kareena Kapoor is. See these girls bitching about who kareena is. It is innocent, ignorant understanding of the Indian folk song. That is what I need. The music to speak through them and be honest! Starting afresh every time! It is very original and that is what people like.

Person who is composing the music, producing the music has no idea about the song. So when he/she is getting the song, it prolly is just like listening to poetry for them. They are feeling it again

Vidula – do you write protest songs or political songs?

Anushree – Yes it is a rap song. Not good at rap song. They don’t want me to sing it because I am bad at rap. I have written that. I am more worried about ignorance in people than politics, because ignorance leads to bad parties. This has to be taken care of. Parties keep fighting. It is about them. What about us. Someone will get ahead and do the same old shit. I am more worried about people. I want to go and ask them why they are listening to “kataa lagaa”.  It is not even fun. It is not giving any information. It is about people. People talk about women empowerment. Women have to stop jeering at women and stop telling them what they are supposed to wear. What is their problem in the first place? Mind your own thing!

Vidula – Where do you think the problem lies?

Anushree – People have to be educated.

Vidula – Does this mean education system have to change?

Anushree – Yes it has to

Vidula – So can you educate people through music?

Anushree – Music has always done that. It has tried to bring about some good change in the world. Musicians always love peace. Music is a source to spread love. Absolute love and honesty! I think music is all about that. And we hope to earn some money. Because that is all we do! That is our bread and butter. People gave to stop discriminating on the basis of different factors right from sex to color. Respect people for who they are. Man, woman, lesbian, homo sexual. Get out of that and just enjoy life.

Vidula – How do you think Media plays a part in this?

Media breeds like a vegetation on people. Till people are uneducated they will make money. When the people get educated, they will stop making any money.

Vidula – People are educated but they don’t apply that

They are minority. People who think like you and me are just 0.001%. It is a very small number.

Vidula – How long will people need to change?

It is a long, long, long process. There has to be a set of people who have to think otherwise. Only then Musicians will make songs. Painters will paint what they want the world to look like. Pottery will churn out a diff form of art. For artists, for travelers, for you, when you go back you will be a different person! You will have different experiences. That is what art is all about- It is a very honest attempt. You have to keep doing that. It is not about the money at the end of the year after gigging throughout the year. It is not done. It is much more than that and when you realize what is wrong with people – That means there is a problem! You have to address that!

Vidula – Describe your music to someone who has never heard it before!

Anushree – Our music is a combination of original compositions which talk about life, its problems, solutions, paints a picture of life the way it is. A huge part of the repertoire is a lot of folk music from the sub-continent, used with electronica. The way we approach electronica, very psychedelic, and very trippy! It is useful, energetic and there to engage people and give them a spiritual lift. That is what Stoned Caravan, the second album, is going to be about.

 

Vidula – what is your personal favorite on both the albums?

Anushree – Chobi gaan from the first album

I wrote it on a number of pictures taken by Deep who is the lead guitar player of Fossils, one of the biggest bands in Kolkata. I never knew him. He is a great photographer and this is a beautiful number. The song is about travelling from one photograph to another.

In the second album, it is difficult to have a favorite. There is a lot of good stuff. Katte I think.

Vidula – When do you plan to release it?

Anushree – Feb or early march for sure.

Vidula – What do you think of platforms like Sound cloud and ReverbNation?

Anushree –they have helped us a lot. When the digital revolution will take place, there will be a lot of business churning out of digital platforms. There is soundcloud, soundhues, ReverbNation etc. These have always been there and just not them but the aggregators who say iTunes, amazon. We also make albums not expecting any money in return out of an album. We do it to ensure that gigs are there. People keep themselves updated about our music.

Vidula – what do you think is the younger generation is listening to in Kolkata and are enough places to play in Kolkata?

I don’t know if other cities have these many pubs where one can play. Kolkata has many pubs. When we play at pubs it is a great platform for rehearsal. When you play music, and I am sure other musicians will agree to it, 200 rehearsals = rehearsal at 1 live show. You need to do that. I am asking the new guys who are coming up with music, forget about the money that you will earn. Play at as many music venues as you can. You have to overcome that fear, stage fright. What you need to do is go up with the guitar and your mike and then you will understand what you have and what you don’t have. It is more important to have live venues and gigs. More of venues and less of malls! One doesn’t need so many malls. It is no more a demand in the economy – these malls.  When the society screams for something that they need, then the demand should be met. Now they are just giving it without the need. People used to be happy with that. You cannot generate a demand for something you don’t need. Just look at it. We are looking stupid with more and more technology. Malls are also not doing well. If there are so many malls then they won’t do well. They are not thinking. Depends on what kind of malls they are. There are few malls don’t look at it as a source of money. They just want to have their brand presence. I just hope too many trees are not cut. Birds still chirp. Those are the basic things of inspiration that an artist needs to create something.

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Vidula – what are the challenges that you face as a musician.

Everything is a challenge.

First challenge is your own family – you try to convince them and then beyond a point you cannot. It is not their fault. Now my family we are upper middle class but my father was from a poor family and he has seen a lot of suffering. For me the lack of luxury is not being able to afford this coffee. For him lack of luxury was not being able to afford a book. He was looking for security. He wants to stick to a stable income. Thankfully I am self-made. I have made myself. Ever since I have been in college I have been on scholarship. I’ve taken care of my own expenses. I did my graduation at St. Xavier’s Mumbai through a loan that I cleared last year. You can do it. Nobody can stop you from being educated and no one can stop you from playing music. But there are a lot of challenges like your family. You have to convince them. Even if you don’t convince them you have to make them come to terms with it. That is what I did. I will do this is what I said. Initially, my father was a little disturbed. I was good at studies. He was worked up and he said “What the hell are you doing?” Then when he saw me on stage, he said “what you need is a hell of a lot of practice. I know what you were doing for those 7 hours every day and came home sweating.” I am very happy that he has respect for my music and work. That is all I’ve expected from my father. There is no other reason for me to be happy. I remember we were out on a trip, when he actually told me – “What the hell are you doing? Baul music? I’ll see how long you can do that!!”  I was very upset. Because of lack of respect for my decision! Nothing else! My father scolding me was fine. Who else will scold? But I had a problem with the lack of respect towards this art form. That much maturity I had. When I came back I was thinking “I can’t see my father hurt, because I am getting hurt. Why should I hurt myself?” So then I wrote a letter. A 4-page letter and I was a letter writing addict. I loved writing letters. For me it was a great job.  I wrote everything in it – exactly what is in my head, what I am, what I wanted, what I was doing and how I looked at music. The last line was somewhat like this “Baba, if you are with me, it will be a great journey. I will feel like you are on this side on the stage with me. If you are not, then this show will go on. Just that I will miss you! You must know that I am doing this with all my heart and I love doing it.” After that I have seen him coming to terms with it. He had respect. I can also tell the guys who are coming into music that if you had a spat with your parents – tell them, communicate with them. You may not get approval to do the things, but you will get respect. They will understand. Because they have all the information!

Vidula – Any other challenges other than family?

Vidula – What do you think about us travelling like this?

Anushree – It is great! It is kickass! Travel makes us grow at an unimaginable rate, not in age. But with spirit! One sees so much. I am sure you have seen a whole lot of change in culture. I have seen that personally. In the villages people are so open to something new and they are modern. And then in the most modern city all people want is some shitty music. It is always a life full of surprises and nothing more than travel makes you realize that as frequently as it gets. It is an amazing initiative and I hope you keep getting sponsors. I don’t know how to drive but I’ll go with you. I’ll try and learn some driving. I have respect for every woman who can. It is not about driving for me. I am feeling a part of this journey already.

Vidula – Any messages for the women in general in India

Anushree – Stop bitching about women. Respect them for what they are. Respect yourself. Let the other person the way she is. Stay connected! Be friends and look at men the way you look at women. Same goes for men too. Just be in love. To all men and women – Stay beautiful. Enjoy life and help each other out.

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