Bengaluru musician Karan Joseph’s untimely demise on Saturday sent shock waves across the country. The “child prodigy,” a maestro on the piano, shot to fame with the popular The Karan Joseph (Madfingers) Project. A friend to many in the city, the 29-year-old, it was reported was watching TV with friends. He allegedly entered the kitchen, and jumped from a window, falling from the 12th floor of his Concorde Building address in Bandra, resulting in immediate death. While speculations and rumours are rife, there are reports that he had messaged friends hours before, asking for help, saying, “Bro please help me, I am being beaten up.”
The music fraternity is mourning the loss of a talented musician and friend. Further probe into the matter is underway, Bengaluru Chronicle spoke to friends about KJo, as he was fondly called, the boy who played the piano beautifully.
Joseph, who studied at Bangalore School of Music, Royal School of Music and the Trinity College of Music also honed his piano prowess at the Berklee College of Music, in Boston, USA. He had trained under veterans like Danilo Perez and Jeff Covell. City-based musician and Galeej Gurus frontman Nathan Harris knew Karan well, and is deeply shocked and anguished at his passing, “As a musician, you’re exposed to a lot of detrimental things like bad company, drugs, alcohol, long erratic nights and way too many people to keep happy. That can take its toll, unless you’re able to balance your professional and personal relationships. Like every industry, the amount of sucking up and calling in favours to ‘make it’ often ends in the wrong and becomes ugly. I wish I could have been there for him to help him get through whatever he was going through,” says the musician stressing on the need for timely help.
Another close school friend, Aditya Mendonca is bereft but categoric about some of the reports, “He didn’t commit suicide for sure. He was a levelheaded man. I’ve known him since school — there’s no way he could jump off. Karan Joseph was a gem of a friend and an amazing pianist — I really want the truth to come out of what happened in that apartment — what has already been printed — I do not believe — my love to his parents and the creative music community. It’s a loss to India’s independent music scene.”
Even Rudy Wallang, the Shillong-based musician believes it’s a lot harder for Indian artistes to survive in the Western music industry, “We really don’t have a Western music industry. So, musicians here have to work extra hard to have that edge. Not easy.” Having said that, Rudy also cautions young musicians to watch their back and circles too. “I cannot comment on any aspect of the cause of Karan’s death as I am in Shillong at present. Having said that, Karan has left a big void in our lives... Both as a musician and as a human being. He was a genius musical soul and he was an innocent and naive young man... All he loved to do was make music and play his keyboard. That’s all that he lived for. I believe he had just a small handful of genuine friends. The rest were out either to use him, or use what he had to offer, in the form of his musical genius. All I know is that we are going to miss him terribly.”
Echoing similar views about how challenging it is for Indian artistes who are often considered ‘Human Jukeboxes’ to connect with the right audience, Akhilesh Kumar, lead vocalist and guitarist of One Girl Shy states, “As artistes, we are forced to compete with each other for venues, and it doesn’t help that venues only look at artistes like human juke boxes. As an independent artiste, you’re not only fighting for space among others, you’re fighting against an industry, apathy and complacency... It is true that he (Karan Joseph) should have been celebrated more,” he reveals. Adding how independent artistes breaking through to the live scene is a challenge, Akhilesh adds, “A majority are only exposed to the commercially available music so God forbid if you take it up as a career! He was very well known in the music fraternity, but the general public aren’t aware of him or of MOST of the amazing talent that’s available in their own backyard! Karan’s death is an example of how great talent sans a strong support system gets buried under the carpet.”
— With inputs from Suruchi Kapur-Gomes and Pooja Prabhan...