Fusion is In! AGAM- a popular Bengaluru-based progressive Carnatic rock band, proved it yet again with their recent performance at Mumbai's Dublin Square in Phoenix Market City. The band, whose name translates to 'limitless' in Sanskrit, kicked off their Onwards and Upwards tour across the country with a unique gig in Mumbai.
With the band consisting of Harish Sivaramakrishnan (vocals), T Praveen Kumar (lead guitar), Aditya Kasyap (bass guitar and backup vocals), Sivakumar Nagarajan (ethnic percussions), Jagadish Natarajan (rhythm guitar), Swamy Seetharaman (keyboards and lyrics), and Yadhunandan (drummer), the evening was set with some delightful classical songs, including Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Rangapura Vihara.
Harish Sivaramakrishnan (vocals) |
Harish, the lead vocalist, set the tone for the rest of the evening, with some grooving numbers also being sung by the audience members. The highlight of the evening was Malhar Jam from the movie Guru (2007). Ahead of the intensified classical music evening, we caught up with the band members for a quick chat about their music and more.
Formed by an equally enthusiastic group of friends and colleagues, what binds the group together is their inclination for Carnatic Classical Music. The band released their first album, 'Inner Self Awakens', in 2012, followed by A Dream To Remember in 2017. Evolving in phases, from Coke Studio to releasing their music albums, especially A Dream to Remember, which Aditya, the bassist of the band, claims was an introduction to Carnatic music to a lot of young people and kids.
“Many young listeners will come to us and tell us that they started listening to Carnatic music because of AGAM, and parents will tell us that their kids are listening to the same songs as them. It also kindled the energy to learn Carnatic music in many young listeners,” says Aditya. The band is all set to enter their third phase with a new album that he says will be out soon.
On choosing to blend Carnatic music with rock, the lead guitarist, T Praveen Kumar says it was more of a mutual and creative decision to make fusion music. “We learned Carnatic classical, and then we travelled the world for work and ended up learning new things like Jazz, Rock, tech, and many more kinds of music. In the end, it was a mutual and creative decision to go ahead with the progressive Carnatic rock music,” says the guitarist.
T Praveen Kumar (lead guitar), Aditya Kasyap (bass guitar and backup vocals) |
When it comes to fusion and hitting the right chord with the audience, keyboardist Swaminathan Seetharaman believes that sticking to the roots of classical music has helped it stand the test of time. “In a creative field, there should never be any restriction on trying, but one should always maintain the ethos of the original song. We believe in being true to our roots, and finally, it's the audience that has a say,” he says, adding that the team follows a long creative process to create several versions of the same song before releasing the final version, “which takes time and hence the delay in releasing the albums.”
Interestingly, while any art form demands complete attention to the craft, all of AGAM's band members have lucrative jobs apart from their music aspirations. It is only on weekends that the band members meet and make music. “We have made it clear at our workplace that the weekends are for our passion — music, which makes us go on the weekdays. But, yes, our families play a major role here, as they adjust to all of this and support us the most,” confesses Aditya in conclusion.