Thaikkudam Bridge. (Photo by arrangement)
HYDERABAD: Popular Kerala-based band ‘Thaikkudam Bridge’, which was in town to perform at Odeum, is all for independent musicians like themselves taking a more prominent space in the mainstream. They credited the south Indian culture for promoting independent artistes.
The 15-member band, founded by Govind Vasanth, who does vocals and violin, features Mithun Raj on the lead guitar, Ashok Betty Nelson on rhythm guitar and Vian Fernandes on bass guitar as core members.
Fernandes said: "Independent music is on the rise, here in the south. I come from Mumbai and I can vouch that this is not the case in Mumbai. Bands coming from the same line-up, such as Agam and ourselves, perform at the same event multiple times; there's hardly any event for independent music in Mumbai or elsewhere."
Nelson said that as culture shapes one’s artistic personality, the band believes that their diverse backgrounds is one of the biggest strengths in the music they create.
Sharing that a lot of voting happens before decisions, Nelson said: "But the crucial part is the discussion before the vote. This yields many more creative inputs. Sometimes, out of mutual respect to the other band members, we change the decision irrespective of the majority. Band comes first for us, so any decision is taken in favour of the band only."
Raj said: "We come from different backgrounds, in terms of our music training. Our focus is on bringing together all these elements in a way that makes sense."
Given that the band’s meaningful lyrics, cutting across several socio-political themes, are what garners their biggest fan base, Nelson said, "For some songs, we compose with a lyric in mind, for instance, Navarasam. But for songs like Kanne, the idea was taken from a letter written by a father in France after the ISIS bombing, to the terrorists, in which he declared that he will not raise his child to live in fear. This was taken as inspiration and fit into a scenario where a father was telling his daughter to live her life without fear."
Raj said that this was the strength of independent music, as it allows for freedom to write on issues that move hearts.
"Film music is restrictive in this sense and we have enough songs on love out there. Being an independent band, we have the opportunity to write about themes that are not common. For example, Navarasam is a tribute to Kathakali, while another song, Chathe, is a retrospection of life from the perspective of a person who has committed suicide," he said.
Vasanth, heading off to the stage to perform, said that Hyderabad is one of their most loved cities to play in. "Public gigs are the best thing in a musician’s life. It is the crowd. It’s people that bring us back to the city. Money is an afterthought. And that's our little message to upcoming artistes — do what you love; don't chase money or fame as both will follow if you’re doing right."