It was the first weekend of March. We headed out for The Lost Party in Lavasa to get a taste of the first run of the music festival. More importantly, we were on the lookout for an act that has broken the mould to make the mould. An act that is refreshingly different and is not scared to make big waves by staying true to musical sensibilities that are their own. 4 hours and 200 kilometres later, when the sun got unbearable in the middle of nowhere, we were overjoyed to find Voctronica on a lavishly adorned stage.
Voctronica owned The Lost Party in more ways than one. For the benefit of the uninitiated, they are India's first all-vocal ensemble. No instruments. Just 6 human voices that sound like a band. Truth be told, they sounded bigger than most of the bands that played the festival. That’s Meghana Bhogle, Arjun Nair, Avinash Tewari, Raj Verma, Clyde Rodrigues, and Warsha Easwar for you. When we hung in their green room after their performance, we could tell that they are a band that loves what they do. They are not running the race. They are just realistic about taking risks, and most importantly, well aware that a trend is a trap. It was amply clear that for them, a new direction is the only direction. Here’s more from our conversation. But first, watch this video if you haven’t already.
2Blue: So here we are in the middle of nowhere. No gas station. No phone network. Nothing even remotely resembling civilization. What was it like being on stage in the middle of the day competing with the decibel levels of an EDM act within earshot, and yet having everyone eat out of your hands?
Meghana: Let's just say it was pretty hot in every sense of the term (laughs). We were quite stoked to be a part of the festival’s first year. The overall vibe and turnout was pretty impressive. Being in a band with no instruments, we don't have much of a choice but to be on our A-Game at all times because we're relying on nothing but our own voices. With the roaring electronic beat and bass blaring from the other stage, the band had to step it up even further. We did manage to power through and pulled in quite the crowd, which made it all the more fun for us on stage. 6 people with only microphones held their own right till the end. We probably did it right (winks).
2Blue: Most bands are formed independently. Voctronica, however, was set up by Sony Music and British Council. How has that journey been different?
Arjun: It has been fantastic. Yes, the band did kick-start with the British Council and Sony Music endeavour. But the journey has been more about how we hit it off with a common purpose and penchant for attempting great music with just our voices. Even if you handpick people you wish to form a band with, the chemistry either exists or doesn't. It's safe to say we're blending our paths, even smoother every day, and it's all organic. We've been lucky to have it that way. And it all reeks of good chemistry.
2Blue: Clyde, how has life changed for you since the time you joined Voctronica?
Clyde: I had never imagined being part of something so big. Every experience I have had with this band is humbling and I'm ever so grateful for everything I've learnt along the way. You know, I live in Kalyan and I'm quite proud to be representing it in the scene. K-town for life!
2Blue: Avinash and Raj... those beat boxing duels between the both of you? My my... there’s spontaneity, drama, and everything in between. How do you establish that kind of telepathic bond with each other to know what’s coming next?
Avinash: Thank you so much. See, the two of us have known each other for 5 years now. We were jamming even before Voctronica happened. While we have been practicing our art and have gotten better over the years, there has been a connection between us that made its presence felt right from day #1.
Raj: Yes, we just built on it. All our trade-offs are improvised on stage, led by 5 years of jamming experience and instinct. But we use it as a challenge to push the limits of what we know we can do.
2Blue: Arjun, you are a part of Rang as well. How different is the process of music making between an independent act and one that is managed by a big label?
Arjun: It's a very interesting question (grins wide). I don't think there is a difference. The essential process builds around the same principle. Put out work that helps you express yourself, is impregnated with an idea that converses with the audience, and everyone takes something new away from it. The process involves learning every single time we interact. I read the meter as one ranging from "If it's good, it sells" to "If it sells, it's good". A lot of musicians may lose steam in "commercial" (I daresay "label" driven) acts to fall prey to the latter end of that meter. A lot of indie acts may not realize it's happening to them as well. I've been lucky that both acts that I’m a part of are fully inclined toward the "If it's good, let it sell" end of the meter. So my process, and I safely speak for all my bandmates in both acts, doesn't change much.
2Blue: What will have happened in the life of Voctronica if we exchanged notes in say about a year from now?
Warsha: A year from now, Voctronica would have been quite active across music venues, events, and festivals. A lot of varied online video content would have finally put us out there for our audiences to get a real taste of the band's sound. More importantly, we would have started performing music with a lot of fun live jams and tradeoffs in the mix. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say that some original content, maybe an EP would be ready too, taking our approach on "a capella" to a new level, moulding an identity into our music. Basically, we would have had a lot of notes to exchange next year (smiles). 2015 is going to be a busy and exciting one for the band!
Image Credit: Official Facebook profile
Article by: 2Blue
2Blue (a.k.a Tirthankar Poddar) forayed into the Mumbai rock circuit in 2000. Having gained notoriety for his powerful high-pitched singing and on-stage charisma, he was soon invited to sing for Vayu. After 5 years in Vayu and countless monumental shows, 2Blue formed the hard rock band Zedde (pronounced z?d). Always a man for his heroes, the self-taught singer attributes his vocal prowess to his childhood heroes: David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, and Bruce Dickinson. For him, if a thing was good once, it always is.
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