Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Forever is a LIE by Novoneel Chakraborty: a review

A basket of life comes knocking when I open a Novoneel Chakraborty book. "What's life?" Novoneel says, "Life's a beautiful bitch!" and then adds with his quintessential smirk and raised eyebrow, pulling off his glasses "Life's also a lie and so is Forever." Always remember, Forever is a lie. Chakraborty's recent release (today being the last day for the pre order) after the record breaking Black Suits You, Forever is a Lie proves (?) just that. The Mean Monster and an eighteen year old girl is by your side throughout the journey. I fathom a majority of you reading this has also read the blurb but what harm is there in sharing a piece of a book I loved again?


According to the blurb: Prisha Srivastav turned eighteen two months back. Hailing from Faridabad, she studies mass communication in Bengaluru. She meets a mysterious man, double her age, who goes by the name 'the mean monster' in the Bengaluru party circuit. Intrigued, she pursues him and falls for him. However, there's a problem. Prisha doesn't know he kills the one who loves him. Literally.


First and foremost.
Meet the characters: Eighteen year old Prisha.
The Mean Monster Saveer.
As trademark Novoneel as it can get, the character names have a feel good factor in themselves. The names of the characters give in a lot about the character than the book. Can we play a quick game here? Prisha. What do you think of the name? Give me adjectives. How do you think is the girl? Same wise for Saveer. (The comment/inbox section is all yours to leave your answers).


Coming back to the story, as you might have read the prologue it goes without saying that the adrenaline that's needed for the book is set high standards from page 1. As you pace through the book (this goes to the ones who has mixed reactions for Black Suits You) you would see that the Novoneel Chakraborty magic has not faded. It's back and how! Quotations fill the book and dare I say, life changing ones. There wasn't a moment when I felt that the story was dragged or any scene that could've been omitted.
Having said this, Forever is a lie is not a 'psycho sexual thriller' as the write is famous for writing. It is a triller and a thriller which is more twisted than his most twisted tale till date. The layers and sub layers had me in shackles. So had the writing style and usage of words. Novoneel has evolved as a writer and today, I see no point in commending him on how he writes.



For the story, I am in love with Saveer (and that surely was the intention). Too many similarities to things happening around me could make me relate to the book more. Let's not speak of the cons as of now (trust me you'll know why!) As I turned towards the end, (DO NOT. I REPEAT, DO NOT TURN TO THE LAST PAGE FIRST) Novoneel smiles. Finally, putting his glasses back on he whispers out loud... "Happy Independence Day, Sharanya" as he pushes me out in the open. Unharnessed. My coffee lay untouched for the past 3 hours taken to complete this 4.75 out of 5 book, never to be drunk again... Until next time, Novoneel. Soon.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Rains off a Smoky Sky by Pritam Mandal: a review

It has been a long time that I have read a book and that amounts to a real long time. I am so sorry for doing this to myself but I have been so caught up with other commitments that I couldn't help but not read. That is when I received Rains off a Smoky Sky by Pritam Mandal. The book had something in its cover and also in its blurb that almost broke me off my slumber and read it. So to begin with, I would like to thank the book for bringing me back to reality. Having said that, I would like to tell you what attracted me the most. It was the cover. Yes, written in bold and beautiful letters the title of the book spoke to me. I have always been fond of reading books by debut authors and this book is surely one of them. The rain and the girl (err.. Anurita) on the cover made me fall for the book. So, here is what the back cover says about the book.

According to the back cover- Do you want to work, walk, relax, breathe, smile and cherish your wonderful life under a clear bright blue sky?..Then, under the smoky sky, say a little prayer for the rains of love to wash away the smoke. Strap yourself for an emotional roller coaster ride as you experience Anurita’s world through the pages of her diary. Laugh with Anurita, wipe away her tears, revel in her wisdom and be a part of her life’s conversations.  A bold and daring young woman from a little village in India, Anurita chooses to tread the untrodden path, against the dictates of a judgmental society. But she is determined to seek the true meaning of her life at any cost. As she follows her heart all the way to the city and beyond, she is met with turbulences of all kinds. A stunningly handsome middle-aged man stirs in her feelings of love and passion; but her romantic fantasy meets with an abrupt end. And then, in a faraway country, she loses her friends to an unexpected tragedy.  Just when everything seems to be going awry and she is about to give up on humanity, it rains. As rains from the smoky sky fall on the Earth, Anurita discovers fireflies in the darkness, dancing on the rain-bathed petals of lovely carnations, the flowers of god.

If I have to speak of the book one of the first things that I have to say is something that these days I often end up saying about the books I receive published by Notion press. That is, commending them on the quality of their books. The cover quality and the paper quality, added on with the feel of the whole book when it comes to touch brings a beautiful feeling. You know what another thing that attracted me towards the book was? The subtitle that says "From Anurita's Diary..." 

As I kept flipping through the pages of Anurita (err... Rita's) diary, I felt that at places I am reading about my own life. The feeling of reading about our own life brings forth more interest in the story. The struggle of every village girl is shown in the most realistic way and so has the solution. If you have to say that this book is motivational, then this is because there is nothing that can be more motivational than reading about someone's personal life (even though its fictional) and seeing how that person overcomes what you thought would be very difficult for you.

Perhaps, the book has been written with this in mind where it encourages the young mind to be motivated in life and to know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking of the narration of the book (as I can't say much about the story or protagonist and you would have to read the book to find out about it), it is very simple and that at places gets the pace of the book down a lot of notches. Keeping in mind the fact that the book is written in a diary style, this narration speaks to the audience but for me, it somehow didn't work out.

Also, there are spelling and grammatical errors in the book and I thought that some places has been stretched. Only if, these places weren't as stretched as it is, this would have been the perfect book for today's time. The inner meaning of the book and the underlying intentions that the author wanted to convey is present and that is what makes it roadworthy. Definitely a promising read, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 and would be waiting to read more from the author in the future.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Music Diaries: Avik Ganguly

In the last post of the month, I would first like to thank every person who has helped me reach where I am. Especially with this endeavour of mine. Inviting me to events, giving me references or simply by being by my side. The questions that had been raised on me and my endeavour in the very beginning by close people has been answered. Ironically, those people aren't close anymore. Close are those who've seen me through and continue to do so.



For today's session I present to you a keyboardist who have had a lot of experience in this field. Very fortunate to have met him, his music shinesthrough his words. Avik Ganguly, to everyone has been an inspiration. So here's hoping this helps you...

You have been in this industry for quite some time now and have been the closest to music in your own sweet way. What has been the tune that you first played ever on your instrument? 

Avik Ganguly— Yes, it's been almost ten years I've been playing as a professional and I remember my first tune was Anondoloke of Tagore. 


Keyboard- the most important and yet such a silent instrument. By silent I meant that the keyboard is always there. The best friend. How would you define the keyboard? How unique is its sound? 


Avik Ganguly— I use it in the same manner as an artist does his canvas. In a band, it is a cushion sometimes and at other times an elevator. And with synthesizers one can design his own sounds and that's what make me super happy. But keyboard players are forced to play from ethnic instruments to the latest commercial hits to even the bizzare. For this reason alone some become Jack of all trades (kinds of music) but master of none.


You also arrange tracks. How is it arranging the music of a song from the scratch?  


Avik Ganguly— Being a perfectionist makes me a bit slow as it takes a lot to impress me. I redo my tracks a zillion times before I am satisfied. Often when a track is completed, I wonder did I really make that happen? This is so because there is an abyss between what I started with and what I ultimately have now.


Having been a solo musician and also as a part of a whole troupe, what’s the pros and cons of both the types? What would you prefer and why? 


Avik Ganguly-- They are the two faces of the same coin; in one hand a soloist makes me the boss of myself and I have no limitations. While a group restricts my creativity to an extent as music is planned and rehearsed and one works with a periphery. A soloist like myself can improvise and create as I go along. In fact I enjoy both as they give me plenty of scope to learn and explore.


How does it feel performing in public? All these years of experience, what do you experience during sound check before a concert? 


Avik Ganguly— Playing for public is the goal for most of the musicians. And I am no exception. Yes, it gives me immense pleasure when people appreciate the music I play. As a lobby pianist at Lalit Great Eastern hotel, I've seen people siting beside my piano and enjoying the soft and soothing music. I've also seen people dancing like crazy with the band music. Now and then when my music has not been appreciated, I do not feel depressed or disappointed. Instead it feels me with energy to learn and shine to get better. I want my music to touch people. And soundcheck... well, for me that's the place where you can really explore a musician. Because during the show a musician might have to play what he is asked to play but during soundcheck musicians play whatever is there in their heart. And I love jamming with the fellow musicians on stage during soundcheck.


It is common ground that the taste of music varies from person to person. Some people like some kind of music. But what kind of music do you, as a listener, like to unwind with? 


Avik Ganguly—  Seriously, I love music from all genres. For me if it's good music it's good music. Whether it's loud or soft, whether it's in bengali song or instrumental. But as a pianist I have weakness for Chopin. Specially nocturnes. And Yanni and Yiruma are two of my favourites. I find their music very musical and meaningful. And one of my favourite keyboard player is Cory Henry. His solos are crazy.


You know, there are moments in life where we end up getting ideas in the weirdest of places. Happens with me. How do you come up with the music that you make? 


Avik Ganguly— Yes, weird places indeed. One day I was on my bike and blowing the horn. The  I realised it was a 5/4 pattern and returned home that day and put down a track with that. And some obvious places like Sea,  Mountains and rain make me think new tunes. And sometimes a fight with my wife too.😉


Now that we are on the topic, what are you working on right now? Anything in the recent times that we all should look forward to? 


Avik Ganguly—  Currently I'm working on two private albums. But my project VEDATRONICS is probably the biggest project of mine. It's a electro fusion band where we do vedic chants and Indian classical stuff with electronic music where I work as the music producer along with playing my keyboard and keytar. Some fantastic and finest musicians are involved in it. And also I play for the band WAGAH ROAD  and we have some big plans in recent future.


In 5 years from now, where do you see yourself? And of course, where do you want to see the whole music scenario of Kolkata in 5 years from now? 


Avik Ganguly-- Well,  I would like to see myself as a music director because I did background music of some movies and short films and I feel that I can do that quite well. And I want to score music for different projects. Then I would like to own the most expensive keyboard. And want to do music videos of at least two of my piano solo compositions.And kolkata music scenario, in five years I expect a change in mentality where musicians will not get a call for work saying "BHAI BUDGET NEI. EIBAR PLEASE KORE DE". I expect kolkata to be the place where people would pay for good music, good studios and good musicians. I expect where a music director will be free to express himself and not do the work according to the producers. Where one musician would not take the credit for another musician's work. And  where musicians playing original music will have places to play and earn a good life.


To sum it up, what would be your piece of advice to the upcoming musicians? How should they go about what they do and what should they always keep in mind? 


Avik Ganguly— There is no shortcut to success. You need patience, hard work and humility. Don't let go of your dreams. And in tough times, hold on to them even tighter. One more thing, upcoming musicians should attend live shows of every genre. That's where they'll get to know what to play and also what not to play.





Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at vanyasnotebook@outlook.com. I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.


If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical!





Saturday, 22 April 2017

Music Diaries: Sudipto Banerjee

Stepping into this new bengali calendar year, it is a very proud moment for me to be introduced to some great musical people of this industry. Having visited a few such events too, not only has my interest been keener, I have started to know a lot more than what I knew when I started with my endeavour.

For today's session we have Sudipto banerjee. Also known as Buti, this keyboard player has been in the industry for as long as a person can remember. A person who excels with the keyboard, his views on music has heightened up with his days in Cactus- a leading band that is also one of the founding members of the bengali band circuit in Kolkata. So here's presenting, Sudipto Banerjee; unplugged...


It is more than a privilege to interact with you and especially on music. If we go back to your roots, what was the very first tune that you learnt to play?

Sudipto Banerjee— Smoke on the water-Deep Purple.



And from there on started your musical journey? You play the keys. The keys, as I fathom, are surely one of the most important instruments that can be. How would you define the keyboard? What is its importance in a band?

Sudipto Banerjee— Raymond Kurzweil is a visionary who built an instrument which would emulate any sound source right from a Piano,EP, Strings,or an Analog synthesizer . This was the 1st keyboard digital instrument which took the music industry by storm. The keyboard instrument to me is a colouring pallete which I use to make a piece of music or a song sound full and edgy at the same time. Hey there are lotta bands who may not have a keyboard player but they do use keyboards for fx & enhancing their sound. Keyboards actually play a major role in

POP/JAZZ/FUNK acts where the Artist/ BAND is looking to use sounds which aren’t guitar, drum and bass :) RIGHT from ADELE TO MAROON5 they all use keyboards. It is the backbone of contemporary music.


For the uninformed, how would they be able to differentiate the sound of the keyboard from the others in a song?

Sudipto Banerjee— 90 percent of whatever music we listen to globally are made my music producers & DJs who are using electronic sounds, it is actually nowadays pretty easy to distinguish

the sound of a keyboard or synth from anything else if you’re an avid music listener.


The keyboard is a broad term if I am not too wrong and under that term a lot of types fall. Piano, organ etc. One of the confused terms is keyboard and synthesizer. You play both. What would be the difference between the sounds that they both have?

Sudipto Banerjee— Synthesizers are instruments which transform electrical signals to sound & keyboard emulate synths & other instruments through a digital process called sampling. A Synthesizer can primarily make electronic sounds but the keyboard can do both because the engine of a keyboard is made up of a chipset & its much more complex.



You play with one band that is known to be THE band in the band circuit of West Bengal for years now. How does it feel? How has it shaped you up- as a musician and a person?

Sudipto Banerjee— I have been playing for the last 12 years with CACTUS so I actually grew up in this band. It actually feels really great playing rock music around the world & that too

in my own mother tongue. Playing live music with a premier rock band for 12 years is quite an experience. I have played more than 1000 concerts with CACTUS & playing live is a very volatile situation. Kinda like WAR if your sound engineer is incompetent or your PA system is not up-to par or your monitors quit working just before the concert. I have faced all this but now we have a set team as CACTUS is a 25 year old band & the production that we use now is the best available.


If you were given a chance to be asked what you always wanted to be asked but no one asked you ever before- what would the question be. And of course, the answer would be?

Sudipto Banerjee— What would you do if you landed up with 10 million dollars no strings attached? I would buy myself a studio with all the gear I wanted to buy & an ASTON MARTIN DB10 for weekend getaways.


To any musician in todays time what would you like to ask? It can be any musician, it can be any question.

Sudipto Banerjee— I see young guys doing music or whatever their own thing, they are much into their work than I used to be & that is a very good thing. The competition in any field is so fierce that you have to be the best in whatever you do. Honestly THE WORK WILL SPEAK FOR ITSELF.


What, currently, are you working on? Anything new that is forthcoming?

Sudipto Banerjee I am currently working with PROJECT DREAMCATCHER & releasing new material with them. This is the outfit of Ritaprabha Ray that primarily produces folk fusion with a hint of electronica & I play keyboards with them. I worked on a new song with my ex band mate & friend Shayok Banerjee’s latest hindi single & the video is going to be released really soon. I am really enjoying playing with PT Tanmoy Bose’e WORLD MUSIC outfit TAALTANTRA

where I’ve been playing keyboard from december 2016 with incredible virtuoso musicians of INDIA.

I cannot help but ask you this question. The person you were before you became a full time musician and the person you are today- what is the most significant change that you notice in yourself? And where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Sudipto Banerjee I dunno about the future but yeah it has been quite a ride for the last 16 years of playing ROCK N ROLL. The most significant change would be ummm … I used to be a party animal even 5 years ago, but nowadays I just feel like driving to different places with my wife over weekends, escaping the roar of the city keeps us sane. PARTY is onstage with screaming fans :)


If I may ask, what are your thoughts on the current music scenario in West Bengal? Where do you see it going?

Sudipto Banerjee I see great promise in the eyes of young Artists. There are so many killer acts from Kolkata who are really killing it in the national scene. I love bands like UA, GANESH TALKIES, WHAT ESCAPES ME, BODHISATTWA TRIO, FIDDLER’S GREEN,

THE RITORNELLOS, PAREKH & SINGH they are all very artistic & their music is both cerebral & visceral. PAREKH & SINGH, the guys from ballygunge are touring UK & they played a radio show on the BBC. FUTURE LOOKS GOOD.

The upcoming musicians have a lot to look up to in terms of music and they are brimming with ideas. Being in this industry for quite some time now, what would you like to advice them?

Sudipto Banerjee— Just do your thing is what I would advice them, as long as you as an Artist think what you create is making sense to you & IF the effort is honest there is no looking back. There are no shortcuts in performing arts.



Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at vanyasnotebook@outlook.com. I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.


If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Music Diaries: Pre-Poila Boishak evening with Riddhi Bandhopadhyay

It's late, I know. But there's a saying that says better late than never. My pre poila boishak days continue to be packed and musical. With the presence of the band I visited a day back, yesterday evening at Outram Club changed my whole mood.


Noted singer and Poncho Kobir Konya, Riddhi Bandhopadhyay was on the house. Along with her team of 4, she belted out songs that would directly touch your heart. The Indianized dresscode of the club added to the flavours.

Nostalgia was written large on the faces of the crowd present there, sitting and standing as tracks that found a new level on Riddhi's voice resonated in the whole club.


A happy woman, Riddhi Bandhopadhyay went on to wish everybody a shubho poila boishak and told them about how excited she is to be on a train journey after ages.

"Live jaabo on facebook" she said, adjusting herself before entering the stage and she went as promised. Her voice and the claps of the guests thundered across as a huge line for pictures was formed.

All photograph courtesy- Antaheen Partha


Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at vanyasnotebook@outlook.com. I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.


If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Music Diaries: Behind the Mirror

You might be thinking why am I back with Music Diaries when it is not a weekend. Well, I had a great pre-poilu boishak event and when I had such an awesome experience, why not share it with you all? Especially since it is about music.





On an eventful evening one Thursday, City Centre Salt Lake in Kolkata saw the promo launch of the first ever film made on demonetisation- Shunyota.  Following the launch was performances by a city based band- Behind The Mirror. 





The lead vocalist of the band, Poulomi Das was a treat to listen to. The crowd that gathered in front of INOX the evening for listening to the band was much more than what it was for the promo launch.



All photograph courtesy & copyright- Antaheen Partha




If you're reading this there's one thing for sure- you're here for music. And if you trust me even for a bit then you should surely not miss them. The drummer of this band, Suvonil Saha is also the composer and lyricist of the band. While his fingers do the talking, the real feel of the whole composition comes because of Ayan Banerjee's violin.








With Subhadip Ghosh and Surya Banerjee on the acoustic and bass guitars respectively, the band's best composition for me was Parabas

This team of 5 musicians are one of the most promising upcoming musicians of the bunch and hoping to listen to more of them, I wish them all the luck.


Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at vanyasnotebook@outlook.com. I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.



If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Chameleon Lights by Ayushman Jamwal: a review

Certain books are important. Certain books mean a lot. Certain books have the aura around themselves just by the look of it. Chameleon lights by Ayushman Jamwal is all of this and much more. What do you feel when you hear the title of the book? Neon. Would've been my answer. But the paradox lies in the title itself. Done in chic black and minimal designing, this book is much more than what it promises.

According to the blurb- Chameleon lights is a journey of self-discovery. The turbulent passage of love, despair, peace and revelation is played out in twenty poems. The daunting turmoil of youth and human ties; the harmony of conviction and affection; and the eerie, invisible role of Destiny dance through these pages. The poems reflect the rough and unpredictable road to one’s identity- to who we are and what we are capable of. Savour the words and find yourself between the lines.

When I first caught hold of the book, I had a sinking feeling that this book is here to stay and trust me on this and my capability of judging poetry, this book surely does. The play of words from the title to the headings of each poem give in the capacity of the poet. A witty one and a smooth talker, Ayushman’s way with words grips you to the core.

Imagine reading a book that catches every attention of yours and every single emotion that you conceal within yourself. Eerie is the word that well describes the feeling. What makes the book all the more special is the fact that being a part of the team at Kolkata Bloggers and being invited to the launch of the book supported by the Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust (in the memory of the poet's grandfather, a Dogri writer), every word stresses on the feelings the poet has himself gone through.

If I speak about the cons of the book then there are very few. Even though loaded with emotions, this book at places fails to tug at the right chord of the reader. Whole some poems feel that they shouldn't end, some still feel unfinished. I would rather have preferred if certain parts of the book were polished up a little. But then, would polishing have given in the feelings the poet wanted to express? Let me leave it up to you. The book for me is 4 out of 5. Waiting, for a lot more to come.

“ When hope turns dark,
I will bring the sun to light it,
I shall guide, protect thee,
For I am the human spirit.”

The poet writes… I say, so be it.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Music Diaries: Arka Das

A big thank you to all of you who have been supporting me on this endeavour of mine in all ways. The support has been overwhelming for me and I'll try my best to give you all the I can.


For today's session I present to you a very well known person in this area- Arka Das. Also known as Dodo, a Soultone Cymbals endorsee and supported by Tempus Drums, Vancouver, Canada; Arka has been in this field for long.


He was a founder member of both Cassini's Division and Five Little Indians, played with the pop rock band Span alongside, and played on Rupam Islam's third solo record, Nishkromon, apart from film work and co-composing drum tracks on Fossils IV. Currently a member of the Saturday Night Blues Band, which is now a trio, along with Mir & Bandage and also on an unique all-percussion quartet that's all set to release its debut EP. So, here's presenting Arka Das- unplugged...


Since I have had the warning with tell me how you started it all not being in the questions that I ask you, can I instead ask you what was the very first tune that you learnt to play? Or rather, what was the first tune that attracted you the most?


Arka Das-- As far as I can remember, I was air drumming to Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie and of course, Michael Jackson before I actually picked up drumsticks. Growing up, the first major artistes that I was into were heavy-duty pop superstars, from MJ to George Michael. And the first major rock band to have an influence on me as such was The Police. If you're talking of picking up cover tunes, I really can't remember, but covers of Pink Floyd and The Police were pretty popular while we were in our teens, so it was probably some of that stuff. Weirdly, the very first band I was in, named Sweet Leaf, was an all-originals band, in the mid 90s, and since that was my first 'band', as such, I didn't really think that playing your own tunes was so rare back at that time. Being in a band, some of Rahul Guharoy's tunes were the first ones I learned to play.

Percussion. An instrument which means a lot to any band. Being a senior drummer with a lot of experience to boast of, can you tell me what is the real definition of it? What I mean is, how would you define this family of instruments?


Arka Das-- No, all songs have rhythm, so whether you actually have percussion in a piece of music or not, rhythm and melody are core elements of composition that you cannot do without.

I have been talking to musicians for quite some time now and one thing that I've talked about the most is how the bass guitar and the drums go hand in hand. That's what the bassists told me. Being a drummer, Would you like to shed some light on that?
Arka Das-- Bass and drums form the rhythm section. I obviously have a soft spot for bassists that hold it down and lock it in, and some of my favourite people in the world, as musicians and as personalities and often, close friends, happen to be bass players. Aakash Ganguly, Sandip Roy, Roheet Mukherjee, Nitin Mani, Shamik Chatterjee, Sanket Bhattacharya, Hemant Aligi, Sonu Sangameswaran, Mainak Nagchowdhury and Stuart Munro happen to be some of those friends and bass players I absolutely enjoy playing and hanging with.

You've been with SO MANY projects. And if I can guess correctly, the 2 bands that you've been the founding member of are the closest to your heart. Following the other bands. Having a band of your own to playing with other bands- what's the major difference?


Arka Das-- I don't think there is any question of preference  a when you happen to be a professional musician: every musical situation is a gift and an opportunity to put your stamp on. At this point in my life and career, I feel blessed to be able to do what I love to do and make a living, and I keep learning every day, from every musical opportunity that comes my way. Of course, I enjoy the creative process of making songs with projects where that is involved, but I love the process of picking up covers to be played on a weekly basis, because that keeps my chops up and educates me about the nuances of playing and feeling a song better, seeing as these were played by some of my biggest drumming idols.

I'm sure you're the most confident when you pick up your drum sticks. Playing love must also be coming naturally to you. But what I want to know is at the beginning of every show when you see the sea of audience in front of you, what goes on in your mind?
Arka Das-- Thank god I still get the butterflies in my tummy and am pretty stoked to go up on stage and hit those drums.
All pictures courtesy: Arka's Facebook profile

An all percussion quartet with your brothers- this is a very unique initiative. How fun is it to work with them? And how different is it to work with your brothers and with other people?


Arka Das-- Unity Village is an all-percussion quartet that includes my younger brother Ritoban Das, my long-time comrade, bandmate and brother from another mother Dwaipayan Saha and our gurubhai, the Latin percussion master, Sourav Chatterjee. And yes, you are right: it is a unique group, because UV plays songs, and is not just a percussion jam opportunity for us to let loose. The band is now almost two years old. We call it a platform that studies root rhythms from around the world; rhythms that range from Afro-Caribbean music to Oakland and NOLA funk to reggae to street beats that define our raucous festivals to Kamtapuri folk. It is home, it is easy, and it is equally difficult because there's no bullshit involved. We are going to release our debut 4-song EP over the next few months, and I think it would be best if we just let the music do the talking.

You've seen a lot happening around you. Musically. How would you explain the changes that has taken place from the time you joined the industry to now? Where does the music industry stand today?
Arka Das-- I think the main change is that there is actually an 'industry', if you will, than what it used to be back when I started off. Live music, at least, is an organised sector, and there is a definite market for it, there is an audience demand, and there is a studio scene which can sustain professional musicians. There is definitely more money, which is a good thing. But big money comes with its own pitfalls, and Bengal's situation has been no different. There's a slew of booking agencies and event management scamsters who seem to be making a lot more money off artistes than the artistes themselves. Obviously, that will implode in a few years, till we are better organised.




Wouldn't you agree if I say that being a drummer, musically, at times, you do not get questions asked that you want to? It's the same old questions. If given a chance, what do you want to be asked to yourself? And of course, what would be the answer?


Arka Das-- I'm quite a gear nerd, so I do enjoy questions about drum gear. And of course, idols.
Just before summing it all up, I'll have to ask these two very cliche questions. What is currently on your platter?


Arka Das-- I play with four set-ups now: Mir & Bandage, The Saturday Night Blues Band, Unity Village, and a songmaking project that I have been working on with one of my closest buddies, FLI founder and Fossils guitarist Allan Ao. That's basically it. Each band has specific plans, which we shall talk about when ready.




And the final one. What would be your piece of advice to the upcoming musicians of today's time?

Arka Das-- Learn the craft, hone your skills, play like there's no tomorrow, every day. Keep yourself humble, because not everyone gets the opportunity that's given to you. Keep working, and a superpower somewhere will take care of the rest. And have a tonne of fun while you're at it.

Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at vanyasnotebook@outlook.com. I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.


If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Music Diaries: Shibasish Banerjee

Phenomenal is the word that I'll have to use if I have to describe to someone, anyone about the love that I've received from music diaries. Thank you, everybody for being so supportive and for talking to me so frankly about it all. With every week, I promise to bring you newer perspectives and fresher notions.

This week, on fool's day, let me not fool you guys but bring to you one of the much loved music makers of today's time- Shibasish Banerjee. The man behind the widely popular #SingaSongTuesday, this man has seen the music industry from up close. With very unique answers up the sleeve and experience speaking a lot, here's presenting Shibasish Banerjee, unplugged…


I have this habit. I start with the very basics. So, What was the very first tune that you learnt to play or that attracted you the most?


Shibasish Banerjee-- The very first tune that I learnt to play was a robindrosongeet. It was Alo amar alo. I am talking about my early childhood. 6-7 years old.

I have to say this. This is one of the most unique answers I've ever got for this question. Do you ever go back to the song?


Shibasish Banerjee: I don't go back to that particular song. But I can never do without robindrosongeet.

Why the keyboard? How did you get attracted to it?


Shibasish Banerjee-- We had a piano. But I never took it seriously. I of course had an interest in music and I could also play by ear. It was when I was 13 that I got my keyboard. And I started playing it as a replacement because by that time the piano was broken. And it needed fixing.


What differentiates the keyboard from the other instruments? For the uninitiated, how would you define the keyboard or the sound of the keyboard, rather?


Shibasish Banerjee-- The keyboard comes with the sounds of all the instruments. It has every sound from the piano, the orchestra, the guitar. Everything. Whether these sounds are as convincing as their respective original source instrument would take the discussion somewhere else.


The point that I am trying to make, however emphasises on the user of the keyboard. The difference lies there. The keyboard expects its user to know how the different instruments actually sound in reality and that is when you can make use of all the sounds. I do not think other instruments come with this sort of a disclaimer.

I would really love to get back to the point you mentioned here. Can you please elaborate on your sentence? The sounds being convincing or not
.


Shibasish Banerjee-- Sometimes you hear a piano sound of a keyboard and you feel that it is exactly how a real piano would sound and sometimes you don't. This experience pertains to all the sounds.

So the sound being convincing or not depends on a combination of factors. 1.The make of the keyboard. The price range.
2. The person playing it.

If someone uses the guitar tone present in the keyboard and plays it like a piano then he can never emulate the original sound of the guitar and hence the result will be misleading and unpleasant.


Woah! That is so interesting. Tell us something about #SingaSongTuesday. How did it start, what does it entail?


Shibasish Banerjee-- #SingaSongTuesday is a weekly musical show on facebook and YouTube featuring curator and music maker Shibasish on the piano/keyboard and one respective singer/artist. 


The episodes are usually 3-4mins long. The show stresses the importance of words and how music can and should only make love with the words and hardly be the reason of conflict. Keeping things very basic and yet making a strong connection with the audience is what I always go for.


I was going through this difficult time. The movies that had my music were not releasing and I was basically not being able to do anything about it, because it wasn't produced by me. I had to depend on the producer.


That's when I thought of taking things on my own shoulders and I started the show. I was alone but not anymore. I have a team now.season 1 was very popular. Many others have started their own thing now and they say that they owe it to me. Season 2 aired its first episode on the 14th. And without any sort of paid promotion the episode has more than 200 shares. That's what makes me believe that honesty always gets you a connection with people.


How is life as a musician in the Bengali music industry of today's time?


Shibasish Banerjee-- I like my city. I feel empowered here. I believe that Bengal has a lot to offer. It always did. Quality is here. Yes the business aspects of the industry might be a little turbulent. But who says we can not learn.


I am primarily a music maker. But people think of me as a musician. If that was true then as a musician I have my own show. Which other city would let you have that? Life is great in our industry. I will bring about more changes, a little tweaking here and there. It will all be great.


Doing live shows v/s making your own music and putting out there. What's the major difference? And what would you prefer? 


Shibasish Banerjee-- There are many differences. Being a musician for some other act was my job. And like every job it's not just about the music. It's about how you handle situations. How you handle the pressure of touring. How you put your best for your team. Live shows require you to be adjusting, understanding.


A lot goes in into making a good live setup. Making my own music is so satisfying. It's so satisfying. I work for hours to get the perfect chord, to get the perfect sound. To have the right sound, I enjoy the process very very much. I would always prefer my music over everything else. Playing live would be so redeeming if I could play my music. And it has been everytime I have done it.


What music attracts you the most?


Shibasish Banerjee-- I think of music as feelings. So the feeling of contentment attracts me the most. Not happiness. Not being delighted, but being content. Any music that makes me feel that way attracts me.


And What are you working on right now?


Shibasish Banerjee-- #SingaSongTuesday season 2 would be done with its shooting in March. I will be working on my singles. And there will be more digital content from my channel.


For the last, What would you want to say to the upcoming musicians?


Shibasish Banerjee-- The upcoming musicians should concentrate more on what music represents to them and what it has always meant to people. COMMUNICATION. Rest will fall in place.


Isn't it wonderful knowing music up close? Do you want to share your experience? If you are a musician and you want to speak about music or get featured here, get in touch with me at vanyasnotebook@outlook.com. I would be more than happy to talk to you and discuss music with you.


If you think that there are things about music that you know and would want to share with the whole world, don't forget to leave me a message. To help me with my endeavour, do not forget to share the post. If you have come up with a music album and would want me to review it before release or for that matter, after release, I am always there. Also, if there is a music launch and you want me to cover it (especially if it is in Kolkata, India) I am there. For the people outside Kolkata, give me the details of the launch and I would cover it for you. If there is any music event that you want me to attend, I am just a ping away always. For the rest, as I always say, let your soul be musical.