On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, India’s most revered folk fusion band Indian Ocean released the first episode of their seventh album Tandanu, which features seven songs, each with a different collaborator including the likes of American-Indian electronica producer Karsh Kale, Hindustani classical virtuoso Shubha Mudgal and singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan. The first episode featured Shubha Mudgal on vocals comprising the single “Gar Ho Sake Toh”, which premiered on Pepsi MTV Indies on April 26.
We caught up with drummer-vocalist Amit Kilam of the hallowed band to understand why they chose the episodic format over the conventional method of releasing albums or singles, their collaborative efforts, and tying up with documentarian Spandan Banerjee to film the entire series.
Tandanu is a very intriguing name. What’s the story behind it?
Tandanu is just a rhythmic word and has no intrinsic meaning. It is actually a song that Rahul (Ram, bassist-vocalist) picked up in his childhood from his aunt, and it is a folk song from the Belur-Halebid region of Karnataka. We quite liked the sound of it, which we feel is very catchy and unique.
How come you chose to release it in an episodic format over the regular album/single release format?
We have tried to explore new avenues and try out newer ways to make our music available. Last time, we gave out our album (16/330 Khajoor Road) for free via our website. This time however we felt with all the collaborators coming in, it would be nice to release the songs on a weekly basis along with episodes on what went behind the making of each particular track and the amount of fun we had in working on each song.
We are releasing one song each Saturday via digital platforms (like iTunes, gaana.com, Spotify, Nokia Ovi, timesmusic.com) along with the episodes premiering on Pepsi MTV Indies. Subsequently, the CD for the new album is being released by Times Music around the first week of June and we are also working on bringing out a Collector’s Edition LP for Tandanu.
You are collaborating with Shubha Mudgal, Shankar Mahadevan, Karsh Kale, among other such noted musicians. What made you decide on these specific artists to work with? Tell us how these contributing artists, if in any way, bring the album Tandanu together?
Each of the musicians we have worked with is truly awesome and has contributed immensely to each song. They have taken the tracks to a different level and have actually worked together with us to create the song, rather than just featuring in it.
All of the collaborators in the album are people whom we have really admired over the years and have wanted to work with together.
Indian Ocean is one of the biggest names in the Indian indie circuit today. Tell us the plan to reach out to larger audiences?
Well, carry on making music and continue to perform shows. Also, keep on evolving and improving as musicians; at the same time keep the signature Indian Ocean sound intact.
How did the association with documentary filmmaker Spandan Banerjee happen? Has he filmed all the episodes?
We have known Spandan for a long time – in fact Spandan also did a documentary on us called Beware Dogs (catch a glimpse here) around 4 years back. We really like his work and he was the automatic choice when we decided to film the journey behind all the songs and working with the collaborators.
Yes, he has done all the songs. But I must bring to (your) notice that a lot of editing and directing work was done by Sumit Kilam and Dhruv Jagasia for a few episodes when Spandan got busy with some personal work, so kudos to both of them for stepping in when we needed a lot of help at short notice.
What exciting features can your fans look forward to in the upcoming 6 singles?
Lots actually! We have tried to do something different with each song – and people can look forward to how the collaborations with such diverse sets of musicians come about.
Watch the next episode, featuring Karsh Kale, this Saturday, May 3 at 8pm on Pepsi MTV Indies. Meanwhile, if you’ve missed out on the first episode, watch it here.