Entertainment Music 03 May 2017 Music that challenge ...

Music that challenges

Published May 3, 2017, 12:00 am IST
Updated May 3, 2017, 12:24 am IST

Unlike Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kerala, the indie music scene in Chennai has a lot of catching up to do. Though there are local English bands that have made strides in the field, bands that do Tamil music are less in number and they are not as popular as their English counterparts. Moreover, when one looks at the regional bands which do social commentary, there are only a handful. But, we are witnessing a change. Sofia Ashraf’s Kodaikanal Won’t, which made heads turn globally, and the band Kurangan, have become the recent game changers which have opened the possibility of more social commentary through music. DC talks to few upcoming bands, including Kurangan, about their stories, and ideologies.

It is safe to say that Kurangan, the Tamil rock band, is the forerunner of Tamil rock bands that take up social issues. Started in 2015, the band consists of Kaber Vasuki (songwriter and singer), Tenma (bass and music producer), Krish (drums), Sahid Singh (guitar) and Soundar Rajan (percussion). Kaber, who was a solo artist, met Tenma during his attempt to crowd fund an album called Azhagu Puratchi in 2014. They ended up working together on the album, which turned out to be the first crowdfunded Tamil music album. As the result of the collaboration, Kurangan was formed in 2015.

Anyone who has listened to Kurangan’s Suthanthiram Oru Dabba and Arasan Enbavan will find the lyrics to be the result of some rage. Kaber says, “That anger is there in everyone. Over the years, the political class has distanced themselves from the citizens. As a result, you see people who shouldn’t be in power being there. In the last two to three years, these things are becoming more explicit. I believe people deserve better than what we have now. So, the anger reflects in my songs.”

When asked why there are such few local bands that are socially pro-active, Tenma says, “It is because of the lack of accessibility. Musicians don’t know how to go about their views and there are no concrete platforms. But I see it changing, not at a rapid pace, but changes are happening.”

He adds that there is a pre-conceived notion attached to regional language bands. “People ask, ‘are you guys a folk band?’ Of course not, we are only making rock music in Tamil and informing people about the state of affairs.”

Siennor started his career as a pianist, and he also learnt guitar all by himself. Initially, he was part of a band called ‘Endless Knot’, which took Bharathiyar’s poems and composed music for them. Later, he joined Kurangan as their keyboard player. Recently, he has also branched out and is doing live concerts with the name Siennor. He has been writing songs since his higher secondary and though they take on social issues, have a philosophical spin to it.

For me, more than the music, the content and the things I want to say matter a lot. I would like to talk about the issues that people face daily.” However, Siennor says his romantic songs are more liked than the ‘serious’ ones. “Sometimes it is sad that people say they liked my catchy love songs, for which not much effort is put, and they don’t pay much attention to the rest.” The other members of Siennor are Jones Roland (bass) and Gowtham Healer (drums).

Vada Chennai paiyan:

Prince Huston’s Vada Chennai Paiyan recently got popular with the song Pichai Kekurom — Begging for Our Rights, which attacks the election campaigns of politicians. Prince, who is doing a Bachelor’s in Political Science, says, “I made this song when the last by-election was about to happen (which was later canceled). Sofia Ashraf did something similar about the elections, where she stressed upon the option of NOTA. But my stand was different. I wanted people to vote for the right person, and I wanted to make this video.”

Hailing from a family of musicians who practice gospel music, Prince wanted to branch out and do something that he thought needed to be addressed. “I am used to making romantic numbers, and people I knew thought this was not typical of me and were pleasantly surprised.”

Though these attempts have been only noticed by the people who have the ears for alternative music, they have provided an opportunity for the conversations among the like-minded musicians, which had been absent even five years ago!



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