Saturday, 28 January 2017

Music Diaries: Debabrata Das

It was a few weeks back that I started this endeavour. Of getting to know music and musicians and talking to them, interacting and knowing what it is all about. While the first interview, followed by a music album launch was much loved; I got a wonderful chance of getting to interact with another very inspirational figure for this week.

Debabrata Das, better known as Debu is the arranger and assistant for Tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh and has been in the music industry for as long as 12 years. Also a part of the major band circuit of Kolkata, Debu has been keenly following everything related to it. He has worked as an assistance music director for movies such as Byomkesh pawrbo and Eagoler Chokh. Having to interact with him has been great. Knowing about keyboards, greater. Here are snippets from the conversation...

What was the first ever tune that you learnt to play?

Debabrata Das- In keyboard it was Jingle bells while in guitar it was Hotel California.

How would you define or describe that you play. Keyboard and guitar, both?

Debabrata Das- I play keyboard as professional. But I play guitar for myself & for friends. Guitar is the 1st love & keyboard is like the wife. I also feel that if played well, 1 instrument is enough.

Woah! So, how is it like being an arranger? For the ones who do not know much about what arrangement is, how would you explain the whole concept of arrangement or music composition?

Debabrata Das- Composing something is like what you have realized. Justify the lyrics with the tune. It’s like a new born baby. While I compose, I always think what the subject matter is. Then I write. Then, compose. Never try to rush. It’s spontaneous. Arrangement. It’s like you have a baby & you are nurturing that child with love and passion. Dressing that child like a mother. Arranging any song means not too much playing rather simple play, less play but effective play. That can back it up from the bottom. Never get loose & enrich the song.

That was a wonderful explanation. So, you do so many things. You play instruments, you arrange, you write lyrics, you compose, you sing. If any day you have to choose only 1 career path, what would it be?

Debabrata Das- Composing


Debabrata Das- ‘Cause, If I compose I can do lots of things. Like, I can make tunes. Sometimes, I can compose lyrics as well compose instrumental music. Arrangement is also part of composing

You must have done live gigs?

Debabrata Das- Yup. I'm member of a band titled Orient Express. We do Latin American music. Every Monday we go live at Someplace else. Early in my career, I did lots of live shows. So called Macha shows. Hindi, Bengali. We had a band. Rock band. Rabindra sangeet live. Have performed with Bickram Ghosh, Mallar Ghosh, Maherin and many more. Last couple of years I have stopped live gigs with various artists. I am concentrating more to play with big artists.

That's a superb bio. How are live gigs different from individual composition? As a musician, what would you prefer?

Debabrata Das- Live shows are so tough. No chance for errors. It’s a challenge. The whole band depends on me. The keyboardist is like the backbone of any band. So it’s quite challenging & individual compositions are like you can show yourself what you can do. Showing your skill creativity. As musician I prefer to do individual compositions.

So how does it feel playing the keyboard? What is the importance of the keyboard in a band?

Debabrata Das- It’s like I'm the spinal cord. Huge importance & in my genre of music without me it’s like fulari bina chutney. With all due respect to the other instruments, I can say that you can make a band without the keyboard but if you make a band with the keyboard then you can never get it out.

You've worked with all type of artists and at all types of places. How has been the experience?

Debabrata Das- It's great. Every good artist has a positive nature. I am learning everyday through them. My career is too short, about 12 years. When I meet any artist I feel they know better than me. True artists always want to give. Want to teach. I'm a good listener so I grab everything and well, I'm a better filter so I consume the right words.

5 years from date, where do you see yourself?

Debabrata Das- As an artist. Now I'm a musician. Maybe a writer. Or arranger. But I want to be an artist. To be more specific, a philosopher.

What are you currently working on?

Debabrata Das- Right now I've lots of project coming up. There’s one upcoming film as the assistant music director. Then, I've a music company. Opolis Entertainment. I'm working on it. There are some music videos that are to be done for my company. There are recordings for my compositions. One album on Rabindra Sangeet that is to be released on 25th Boisakh. Finally, there’s one short film.

So, what would you like to say about the music industry of today? How much has it changed from the first time you joined?

Debabrata Das- It has changed not a single bit. Just the same from what I saw for the first time. You know what? Life never changes. What changes is our way of thinking, way of talking and way of living. So, the industry remained the same while we people change a lot. Composition rises so we became selfish. But in the recent times some good artists are coming. We are trying to help each other to move ahead in the race. I think it will change the industry.

What would you want to say to the upcoming musicians and your followers?

Debabrata Das- Try to learn. Learning is the process that makes you perfect. Perfect practice is needed for perfect poise. Never practice without knowledge. Listen to good songs. As well as bad ones. That'll give a perfect picture. Make good friends. Enjoy the life. And very important, be a good lover. Fall in love and that’ll make you more creative.

Wasn’t that so insightful on the importance of the keyboard in music? Don’t you feel like knowing more on music and musicians? Look up at this space, every weekend for something, anything that I can give you. For the musicians who want to help me with this idea, get in touch with me at- For you, music lover, please share this and spread the word. Let us all be by music. Let us let our soul be musical!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Music Diaries: Palki Album Launch

Manomoy Bhattacharya
21st January 2017 saw a new light as singer Manomoy Bhattacharya released his latest album and the first in which he has sung a Ghazal. Palki, as conceptualised by Sunita Sohnee, is partnered by Utkarsh Audio and presented by Blue Morph Records, has 7 heart touching ghazals to its credit.

Manash Bhattacharjee
The music has been arranged by Subhadeep Mazumder and Manash Bhattacharjee while it has been composed by Manash Bhattacharjee, who on this album and on working with Manomoy Bhattacharya says “Working with Manomoy Bhattacharya was really great. It is my 1st Hindi ghazal project. I had worked for many famous singers but working for Manomoy da was really fun. He is a super talented person. Indian classical music is my subject and I believe to achieve success in this field. It was a wonderful experience for me to work as a composer and singer for this project.”

The title track of the album, Palki, in Manomoy’s voice brings about an essence teamed up with Sunita’s lyrics that would touch your heartstrings to another level. Speaking about the lyrics, Sunita Sohnee says “The album is written by me in dedication to someone very special of my life. Every single word that forms these ghazals has touched my soul before turning into words. The feelings that I have written has been beautifully turned into music by Manash Bhattacharya ji and with so much beauty have me, Manomoy ji and Manash ji sung it. I am sure that this album would be loved by people of all generations because this is the sound of the heart.”
Arpan Sen

Present at the album launch was guitarist Arpan Sen, who was nostalgic even and who exclaimed “Being a part of this whole album was great. Manomoy Bhattacharya has been an inspiration throughout. The ghazals are beautiful, along with the lyrics and this album is surely one sparkling star among the others right now.”

Sumit Nandy
 Sumit Nandy, the owner of Blue Morph records who holds the rights to the music album was on top of the sky. Beaming with happiness he says “This would be the first ghazal album that has been released by Blue Morph records. Ghazals have personally been one of my favourite genres and working with Manomoy da and having him on board was great. I would be looking forward to working more with them and seeing the success of Palki.”

Ensuring a lump in the throat are lyrics such as, “Hai aankhein abhi num, sukh jaaye aansu... toh chaltey hai” which elevate the album to a whole new level. So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself the album and do not forget to tell me how was it listening to the songs.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Kolkata Literature Festival 2017: the schedule

The Kolkata International book fair has always been the reason for nostalgia for every Bengali (read. Resident of Kolkata) ever. Starting from January 25th and running till February 5th, the Kolkata International Book Fair also hosts a 3 day long festival known as the Kolkata Literature festival. In a span of a month, Kolkata hosts 3 literature festivals and the Kolkata Literature festival is the only one that is hosted within the premises of the Kolkata International Book Fair at the Milan Mela Grounds, near Science City.

The focal theme country for the Kolkata International Book Fair 2017 is Costa Rica and the Kolkata Literature Festival 2017 would see authors from 10 countries such as Wales, Scotland, Australia, Egypt, USA, India, Bangladesh, Spain, France and of course Costa Rica holding around 25 sessions over the 3 days it is held. Each day would end on musical notes with performances by Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty on the 1st day, Dohar on the 2nd Day and Dona Ganguly on the final day.

Bestselling Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat, Durjoy Datta and Sudeep Nagarkar would be speaking on writing, being a writer and the trends in writing. On the other hand, the festival would also host sessions by eminent poets like Neel Hall and Nishi Chawla from the US. Speaking of foreign authors, in a session about identifying the readers, authors such as Khaled Al Khamissi, Vivek Shanbhag, Lin Anderson, Natalie Holborrow, Denes Gazsi would be speaking on an author’s approach towards writing a novel.

This year, a special initiative has been taken titled “The valley The City and The Village” where authors from Wales would be visiting Kolkata and authors from Kolkata would be visiting Wales and they would be writing down their experiences in the form of short stories which would later find its place in a book to be published in India and the UK. Natalie Ann Holborrow, Sion Tomos Owen and Sophie Mcknead, Gary Raymond, Esha Chatterjee and Kaberi Roychowdhury would be seen discussing on the same.

On the current hot topic of discussion, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, transgender activist (Bigg Boss and Sach ka Saamna fame), Manabi Bandopadhyay, Sandip Roy and Penky Kenworthy would be having a session titled, “What do I do with my sexuality?”

The 3 day long festival would be inaugurated by French ambassador and Costa Rica representative, Sankha Ghosh followed by a musical performance by the Calcutta School of Music. Promising a great time to the art and literature enthusiasts, the Kolkata Literature Festival 2017 packs off with a super schedule from 2nd February to 4th February. So, do not miss the festival.

A wonderful part of this whole festival is that you, being a blogger, reader or a writer who loves talking about books can contribute posts for the official website of the Kolkata International Book Fair 2017. You can also update your social media profiles with #KLF17 and post about the Kolkata Literature Festival 2017 as well as connect with the live updates following the hashtag.

 You can see the whole schedule HERE.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Music Diaries: Soutrik Banerjee

When was the last time that you heard a song and thought about the music, musicians behind it and not just about the beautiful voice that you hear and the soul touching lyrics? I wouldn't have remembered had someone once not told me, "Musicians are the soul of a song". It was then that I started listening to music in a new light and I knew, I need to interact with musicians, know them and bring them forth to the people who don't know about them. Thus, from today I present to you my journey with music. 

I couldn't have been happier with the fact that I could start off my new endeavour with one of the most talented musicians we have in recent times. Apart from playing the bass guitar with the sensational Pata da (Abhijit Barman) at Pata R Moruddyan, this young guitarist has a lot of other identities. Helping me and all of us understand bass, presenting to you- Soutrik Banerjee...

Thank you, Soutrik for being a part of this... Let's start with the basics? What was the very first tune you ever learnt to play or you could associate yourself with?

Soutrik Banerjee- It started in my school days. 2009/10 to be precise. I was drawn into playing an instrument after listening to basic pop and rock songs. I wanted to play guitar after listening to tunes like "About A Girl" by Nirvana, "Hey There Delilah" by Plain White T's, "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias" etc. You know, those kind of songs. I liked the sound of the acoustic guitar, it felt really cool and thought that myself playing the guitar would please a lot of people (and girls in the school). Like it happens in the early days, ha-ha! So I begged my parents to buy me an acoustic guitar and they finally bought me one after several requests. But it all started getting serious after I was introduced to bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden etc. Cliff Burton's use of distortion and wah in Metallica's first three albums made me go crazy and that's what made me pickup the bass guitar to be honest. It kinda felt like the coolest thing ever. The first tune I ever learnt to play on the bass guitar was the intro to "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Metallica. That's the first song I ever learnt to play.

Vanya- That's like so common in all the musicians I've met off late. You know, the passion makes me feel like you guys are connected by blood. Blood brothers.

Soutrik- Ha-ha! It definitely is. The musicians in us are our alter egos. They just have to be woken up when time comes.

That takes us, to how would you define the instrument you play- the bass guitar? Of course you are close to it but how close are you to it? Named it anything? How many do you own?

Soutrik Banerjee- People's conception about the bass guitar has always been a little twisted. Some don't even understand its importance. But the irony is, had there been no bass in their favourite songs they would've sounded somewhat thinner and incomplete. Legendary songs have been defined by their baselines. Can you imagine listening to "Billie Jean", "Come Together", "Money", "Under Pressure" etc. without the baselines? Music producers consider the bass guitar as one of the most important instruments in the mix, if not the most. The bass glues everything together in the mix and adds meaty vibe to the songs, the low end that is. I'm extremely close to my basses. I own three of them. A "Sterling Sub Ray 4", an "LTD D6" and a "John Hornby Skewes Vintage V4".

People basically know about the acoustic guitar. For the ignorant, a guitar looks like the acoustic one. While the bass looks super sleek. What's the major difference between those two? It sounds different, yes. But to the layman, how would you explain it?

Soutrik Banerjee- There's a huge difference. These are different instruments. A guitar natural frequency range lies much higher as compared to the bass on which low notes are played. The bass guitar is a modernized upright bass in the shape of a guitar. The major role of the bass guitar is to lock in with the drums and add the low end to a song. The boomy thing actually. So basically it helps to add layers to the song. The low layer. Without the bass there would be no boomy vibe. The song would sound thin.

Talking about live gigs, you have been doing live gigs for a long time now. How is it performing in public? Stage fright? Adrenaline.

Soutrik Banerjee- A good live rock concert with an enthusiastic crowd is the best thing for a musician. Stage fear used to work in the early days but it all went away with time. All the fear lies in the technical problems nowadays. Unwanted white noises and stuff. Adrenaline is always there in good energetic shows. But then there are shows where the people don't seem to react at all.

Vanya- You guys usually have sets that are played, right? How is it decided which set would you play? Decided keeping the venue in mind and the audience you might have there?
Soutrik- Yes set lists are often tweaked keeping the venue and the crowd in mind. The first five songs remain intact. We perform them at a stretch.
1. Sudhu Tumi Elena
2. Mon
3. Raatri
4. Dil Doriya'r Maajhe
5. Bodhu Re
Now that we've been talking about the audience. As an audience yourself, what kind of music defines you? We have known that some people like some kind of music, to each his own. So in such a case, what kind of music do you like to listen and what kind do you like to play?

Soutrik Banerjee- My taste varies from classical music to metal. Progressive Rock/Metal and Funk are the genres which I love playing the most. I enjoy playing bass lines oriented stuff like Chic, Narada Walden, Michael Jackson, Teena Marie, Sly Stone etc. And I also love to play prog. Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Dream Theatre, Tool, The Contortionist, Periphery etc.

Now that we are talking about this, what are you working on currently?

Soutrik Banerjee- Apart from Pata R Moruddyan, I'm associated to a couple of bands. Atlas is a North Kolkata based Bengali heavy metal band where I play bass. It is a 4 man line-up and I've learnt a lot from the guys there. John Paul, Jishu Paul and Sukhendu Chakraborty are the other three members. They too work on multiple projects. John plays guitar in Lakkhichara and Rigmob, Sukhen is a professional guitar tutor and also has a progressive metal band called Trident, and Jishu, who is a music teacher in Aditya Academy Group of Schools, also plays drums in the bands Feather Touch and Hip Pocket. And last but not the least I have a progressive rock project called In4NiA where I write, compose, sing and play bass. It's like a home project. I and my friend Shrayam Das (guitar player) are cooking some stuff in our lab. We are currently working on a six song long Extended Play called 'Hexa' which we will hopefully release by July 2017.

Having said that, you've been associated with so much, how has your journey been? From scratch to now?

Soutrik Banerjee- Music has given me a lot. Being completely self-taught and having taken no formal training, it was a little difficult early on. But hard work, practice, listening to a lot of songs, following good informative videos on YouTube, getting in touch with good musicians etc. has helped me a lot over the years. Challenging ones limits is the key.
And I'm looking forward to learn more.

So let’s go to playing for a band v/s your independent projects. What would you prefer and why?

Soutrik Banerjee- Both. Music in a band consists of multiple influences whereas my personal projects define my own music. The flavours are different. Both are important. But, working with people always has its pros. We get to learn a lot. Our thoughts get widened.

How has been the experience with Pata R Moruddyan? How much time has it been? Any memorable experience?

Soutrik Banerjee- I've been playing with Pata R Moruddyan for the last five months or so. This is my first season with them. It's kinda emotional because I grew up listening to Pata da's songs. Mon, Noah'r Nouka, Bodhu Re etc. were my favourites since I was in primary school. And now I'm playing these songs with the person himself. So, it's really kinda special. And I also get the privilege to work with some of the most phenomenal musicians in the city. Sudipto Paul on Keyboards, Atanu Mukherjee on Drums and Prasun Bhattacharya on Guitar. It has become like a family over the months.

Now that this is such a beautiful start, where do you see yourself in 5 years from date?

Soutrik Banerjee- Hahaha... In 5 years, I want to work in around 50 albums! Kidding! Let’s see what happens. But what I know is, I want to work more.

Vanya- What is the one thing that you want to be asked but haven't been asked yet?
Soutrik- What is my dream rig? It would be awesome if someone asks me this.

Ah. So what is your dream rig?

Soutrik Banerjee- Well, I've always liked the bass tone in modern progressive music. I have a fetish for Kiesel, Dingwall and Musicman basses. For the basses I'd like to have a Kiesel Vader, a Dingwall Combustion or a Musicman Stingray 5. For the preamp I'd like to have a Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B7k or a Tech21 Sansamp. My compressor would be a Super Symmetry by Darkglass. Apart from these I'd have a decent chorus, octaver and envelope filter. And all of it will go to front of house through a powerful DI. That's pretty much it.

For the upcoming musicians and fans, what would you like to say?

Soutrik Banerjee- Practice is the key. And listening to good music. The more you listen, the more you train your ears, and the wider creative area gets. It's not about being faster than the other guys or having the fanciest of skills. It's about expressing you self with music and going with the context.

It was the best that I could think of. Now, don't you think you, being a layman, understand sounds better? Don't you feel like knowing more? Don't you feel that there's so much more to music than it meets the eye? Look up at this space, every weekend for something, anything that I can give you. For the musicians who want to help me with this idea, get in touch with me at- For you, music lover, please share this and spread the word, Let us all be by music. Let us let our soul be musical! 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

A Way Back Into Love by Veronica Thatcher: cover release!

~ Cover Reveal ~
A Way Back Into Love by Veronica Thatcher
5th January, 2017

About the Book:

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love… Well, that makes complicates everything complicated. When you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.
Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life is turned upside-down when she realizes she's in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home... to the man she left behind?

About the Author:
Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!
Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it. You can reach Veronica through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad and Gmail.

Contact the Author:
FB Page * FB Profile * Twitter * Wattpad