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Boom Shankar!

Boom Shankar!
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Tell us about your journey.
I have grown up in a family of music and the arts in general. My grandfather was a composer, professor and played a variety of musical instruments including clarinet and piano. I credit my initial musical interest and development to him, as he was the first one to teach me how to play the clarinet and piano in the western classical style. My family and I devotees of Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as the 'Amma'. I have grown up playing bhajans at her programs and that was my first introduction to Indian music.
Also, in high school I discovered the Remember Shakti recordings and I was obsessed with all the musicians in the group. I used to listen to the songs over and over again, and play along with the music. That’s when I realized how much I really loved Indian music. I remember making a resolution then that I would study with Hariprasadji, and that’s what exactly what I did after college. He has taught me everything I know about Hindustani music.  I had to drastically change my instrument to play the Indian classical gamaks and harkats, as the clarinet cannot naturally bend pitches that easily. I worked on it for months to get it just right.

What inspires you to create music, who are your idols?
All the Shakti musicians: Hariprasad Chaurasia, Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, John McLaughlin. Apart from that, I love AR Rahman, Coldplay, Radiohead, Foster the People, Bon Iver, Kanye West…the list goes on.

Tell us about your first break and how the journey has been since
The very first video that really started getting attention was Nee Nenaindal with Vidya & Vandana Iyer. We recorded it in Vidya’s dorm room for fun, spontaneously. I haven’t looked back since!

Some memorable moments for you?
Ah this is a tough one. I have so many! I think my favourite one right now is getting the call from Shankar Mahadevan and him asking me to collaborate! Almost surreal, and such a dream come true.

What songs top your playlist?
I really like Miguel’s new album. I like the production style and vibe on that album a lot. I’ve been listening to Raghu Dixit’s new album, Jag Changa, really killer stuff.

What suggestions would you have for newbies who want to make it big?
I’m a bit of a newbie myself! I think what I’ve realized is that it’s important to do music you love. Even if it is contrary to what the popular taste is. There is always an audience for genuine music and soul. And that can only come if you do music that inspires you.

What next for you?
I’m currently working on an album with very exciting collaborations. It’s all my original compositions and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

What is on the cards for the Storm Festival?
I’m working with an excellent set of musicians! It’s going to be a mix of some of my original compositions from my channel, plus some of Shankar Mahadevan’s big hits. Basically, it’s going to be a big, fun jam session.

How do you think music festivals will change the way the country perceives music?
I think music festivals are great, because they encourage up and coming talent as well as nurture the already established artists. I think it’s a great way for musicians who are just coming into the scene to showcase their work and gain exposure. It broadens the mind and taste of the listener, as there are so many artists from different genres and styles at festivals.
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