Sbcltr speaks to the Delhi-based popular fusion band Advaita on their remarkable journey as musicians

“Amidst deep discussions on the meaning of life, hot cups of tea and some inspirational jamming – Advaita was born.” Ever since they burst onto the music scene twelve years ago, Advaita has resonated with anyone who has heard them. Maybe it’s because their sound is a little eclectic—rustic mixed with psychedelic and spacey, the kind that makes you want to just tune out the world and just focus on the music. From small-time gigs, to spectacular performances on Coke Studio and even a song in Bollywood, the band has done it all. In an exclusive interview with sbcltr they talk about their journey, their audience and their most favourite gig ever.

What’s Advaita’s story? How has the Journey been so far?
Our story…well, the music found us, we’ve been fortunate in that regard. The journey has been good, we’ve been a bit dormant for the last year or so, recharging mostly.

What are your views on the indie music scene in India – being elitist because of major western influences?
I don’t think in this day and age the concept of getting influenced by “western” music is applicable. Influence and inspiration can come from any source, irrespective of boundaries, however the realisation of that primary source of inspiration should find a form that’s more relevant to one’s surroundings. The indie music scene is vibrant, it’s interesting because I think you can ask that question at any given time (across the decades) and you’ll always think that it’s bubbling and nascent and exciting and all those things…and that’s exactly what indie music should be. You can always complain that most of it doesn’t really reflect an ideology, but then, well, complaining isn’t the best thing to do…

Do you think the audience is more receptive in terms of creativity in Hindi as a language – since Advaita began their journey? And how?
Hindi has always been around with Indian Bands, but over the years as the independent music scene began to grow, one can clearly see that more indian languages have been used for expression. Our songs are have both hindi and english, but the style is primarily hindustani. More and more people have actually opened up to original indian music and as a result language isnt a barrier anymore.

What is your most memorable gig till now? And Why?
Our album launch gigs were very special and memorable. it celebrates the beginning of a new chapter in the life of a musician and a band, and to be able to present it to a large number of people who equally enjoy the music and care about the band makes it even more worthwhile. All our international tours have been equally special because its a completely unknown territory and representing India at festivals abroad is a matter of pride.

There’s a sense of psychedelia to Advaita’s music and bands are growing in India, how do you think, it’s will effect the concert landscape?
That equation sounds like it’s heading for a good result.

Artists that have continuously inspired you guys over the years, both – Indian and International?
Currently on the playlist…Snarky puppy, Radiohead, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, John Newton Howard, Shahid Parvez.

You have recorded a session at the much talked about Coke studio India. How was the experience considering the production value of Coke studio India is beyond comparison?
We had the pleasure of being featured in the very first season of coke studio India and at the time there weren’t many television programs based purely around music. It was our tv debut and we made a huge impact in the tv world. A large number of people heard us literally over night and it was a kind of new discovery for them. We met a lot of senior musicians and industry people also took notice of us. We performed our song Ghir Ghir with some very special changes made to the arrangement. Something that we are still proud of and its incredible how the audience reacts to us every time we announce the song name!

What is the songwriting process behind what we know as the sound of Advaita? How has it evolved over the years?
Anindo: When we started out, a few of us would come up with some melodic riffs or ideas and jam with the others to give a definite direction. And at times some of us would make sequenced versions of entire songs and bring it to the jam session to further refine it and play it live. From the second album onwards, it’s a been more unified and collaborative process.

Advaita debuted in Bollywood with Amitabh Bachchan. Tell us more about that experience.
We were approached by Bijoy Nambiar, the director of the film, who after listening to our song Mo Funk got so inspired that he made a film sequence for it. It was a thrilling experience to create the track around Mr. Bachchan’s iconic voice. It was released as ‘Khel Khel Mein’. This has certainly brought a lot of recognition to the band and we are hoping to get more involved with songwriting for films in the future.

You have played both small gigs and big stadiums, how do the dynamics change with each show? Is there a set formula?
There is no set formula. As mentioned, the dynamics do change and we sequence our set list based on the energy of the songs and the kind of audience we are playing to. Sometimes we do acoustic sets at smaller intimate gatherings, or make it really grand by featuring and collaborating with other artists during special occasions.

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