A band that blends rock with Carnatic music, Delhi-based The Iyer Project has been making waves with their distinctive sound for sometime now, garnering a significant following for themselves. In anticipation of their gig at Hard Rock Café (Gurgaon) later this month (28th September, 2017), we spoke to guitarist Ananth Venkatesh about their origins, their most memorable performances, their musical inspirations and more. Take a look.
Tell us something about the band’s background; who are the band members; how did the band come into being?
The band was named The Iyer Project because the three founding members Chandramouli, Ashvin Venkatesh and I (Ananth Venkatesh) are Iyers. Chandramouli (who had his own YouTube page) is Ashvin’s batchmate while Ashvin and I (were a part of another band) are siblings. One day we decided to jam together with Chandra and things seemed to click instantly. We played a few shows together after which Sammy got on board for the drums and Himangshu Yadav on the bass.
For how long have you been playing together?
We have been playing live since early 2014.
What's the story behind the name of your band?
The founding members are Iyers and we also play a fusion of Western rock with Carnatic classical style of vocals, so the name, kind of, resonates with the feel of the music.
How often do you perform live, and which are your favourite venues?
Since we only play our original set, the number of shows is about one or two a month. We love Hard Rock Café because of the spacious stage.
What is your most memorable concert?
We recently played at Banaras for a 43-day music festival known as Sur Ganga. It was amazing because of the Clean Ganga initiative attached to it along with the fact that four to five thousand people were having fun and were super reciprocative.
Is music a full-time affair for all of you? If not, what else do you do?
Four of us have full-time jobs while Himangshu, our bassist, is a full-time musician and plays with multiple bands. I work at a startup called RedCarpet, Ashvin works at Tyco Fire and Security, Sammy works at WatConsult and Chandra heads an NGO called Advit Foundation.
Who are the band’s musical inspirations, and what are your favourite tracks?
We are heavily influenced by Classic Rock bands and Carnatic Rock. Our major influences would be Baiju Dharmajan, Motherjane, A.R.Rahman, Coldplay, and Extreme, to name a few.
Who do you admire the most among Indian musicians?
Well, anyone who is trying to fuse classical music in order to make it more accessible to the general crowd. Say, for example, Baiju Dharmajan and Prasanna among others.
Tell us something about the set that you will be playing at HRC.
We will be playing a full-length original set with all the songs we’ve written and composed until now and it is going to be a ride, from really mellow stuff to songs that really rock.
Give us your opinion about the music scene in India. Is it a difficult environment to survive as a musician?
Well, it is certainly tough to make it as a full-time profession but things are improving.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
We see ourselves as a mainstream band playing Carnatic Rock and touring all over the country and outside (hopefully).
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