Ivan Singh: 'I never thought that my big debut would be in India'

Ivan Singh: 'I never thought that my big debut would be in India'

Argentinian musician Ivan Singh, who was in the country recently, talks about his music and India connect

Verus FerreiraUpdated: Saturday, April 08, 2023, 09:35 PM IST
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Ivan Singh who has his roots in Punjab, marked his India debut at the Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai earlier this year. The Argentinian born bluesman / singer-songwriter brings a mix of Latin blues with his (four-string) Batata Box Guitar and his amazing band. Singh, who has roots in India, speaks about his visit to the country, his music, and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

It’s your first visit to India, how has the experience been?

I love it. I’m feeling so blessed. It was a chance to come here from Chicago with my buddies and with my idol, Buddy Guy. We’ve been playing at many places, but I don’t think, at least for me, any of them was so special like this one. It’s special because I gathered a root connection with this country.

It is the first time that I’m here, the first one in my family history to get back after 120 years since my great great grandpa lived in India. The place is magical. The people are super nice and the love that we’ve been receiving since we got here was amazing. The show and the after show was just so magical. I’m super happy and I find this opportunity unique for my lifetime as a musician and my personal life too.

You said your great great grandfather lived here?

I don’t know much. I just know that my great great grandfather was from here, he left India 120 years ago, and went to Argentina. His name was Kursing, but I don’t know more than that. There he married a Spanish woman, my grandpa married another Spanish woman and my father is an Italian-German. I never thought that my big debut would be in India. So, everything came a full circle and that makes it pretty special.

When you were walking to the stage for your set, you played a beautiful song. Can you tell us about it?

This song is an original one called Sylviake, which means ‘the journey’, so we are on this Spanish journey. It’s an Indian blues song. I used that song to walk to the stage because it’s where my roots come from. When I play slide, I love to play Blues slide, I find the sound of the sitar, so I tried to get that kind of sound of slide.

You used a peculiar looking instrument ‘Lata de Batata (sweet potato can)’ in the song making it sound like the sitar?

The instrument has four strings. It’s basically a can — box slide guitar. It is crafted from a potato tin box beyond the traditional style, which gives out a sound close to the sitar. You need to hear it to really get the feeling into you as there’s a particular way to play it. I also play a little bit of piano, drums, bass, and trumpet. I like to record in my house.

What kind of Blues is your style?

Well, it’s gonna be Chicago Blues, because I got my band members from Chicago, you know, I’ve been playing forever. I bring some kind of Latin Blues, because I mix Spanish English with that and I like to bring the rhythms like I did in my version of Carlos Santana’s Maria Maria as it showed everything is connected. Music is a universal language and any music almost comes from the Blues.

Have you heard Indian music?

I love it, actually. When we entered the hotel they welcomed us with Indian music and then they played music from Punjab. I am getting into the mood now for Indian music and the music from Punjab.

Have you tasted Indian food?

We get chicken wings in America, but the chicken wings here are made so differently. We also had a cheesy naan. The food is amazing. When we arrived, they didn’t let us eat a lot before the festival, but now the festival is already over (laughs) so they take us out and let us eat whatever we want.

Did you get a chance to go sightseeing?

We did go around the city and did some shopping too. I mean it’s a big smash of reality being here in many ways for good. I’m going back to the (United) States with a different perspective of life, too. I think India connects you with the real stuff and you get to know more about spirituality for real.

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