Music is one’s inherent gift. But gaining recognition and star status is a different game altogether. However, not one to be deterred by the politicking of showbiz, this group of city-based musicians has been strumming its own tune. Packed with the punch and loaded with an original cadence, Vibes Of India, caught up with the independent music hustlers of Ahmedabad.
When asked if the reality of life has ever led them to retrace steps, the answer was a unanimous “No.” The young musicians/singers are set to defy odds and set their own tune.
They say sound penetrates the womb and the yet-to-be-born fetus knows his surroundings even before birth. Harsh Soni is a case in point. Now a well-known vocalist and music teacher in Ahmedabad, Harsh shares: “My father would go for music lessons after his job. At home, his riyaaz, would be with my mother sitting beside him. Guess, it all started then.”
Blessed with the knack for music, he soon was a name in the local competitions. However, singing popular numbers soon tired him and he realized: “I was just copying someone else’s lyric and music. What is my music? This question was a Muse and I set out on my own journey as an independent artist.”
At 15, came along his first composition. He recalls: “It was for a hymn by my religious guru. I drew upon two ragas from classical music to blend them into a distinct strain. My efforts were appreciated and thereon, it has been no looking back. The path is difficult and challenges do come up but I can think of no other way of life,” says that talented composer.
The lockdown, while bane for some, proved a boon for most. Bhaumik re-ignited his interest in music during the period. “I was always musically inclined but got bored easily. It was singing the same popular tracks over and over again. Then, during the lockdown, I had the time to gather a bunch of like-minded friends for ‘Cloudland,’ an original enterprise. Some team members penned the lyrics, some composed the score and I lent my voice. Our YouTube channel received an overwhelming response,” shares Bhaumik.
Hailing from a business family, Bhaumik had no patron or support to secure a place in showbiz. “Talent is all we have. And today, Cloudland offers promising singers and musicians in Ahmedabad a stage to showcase their skill. All that a true artists needs is a stage and appreciation. Politics and corruption dilute the art and de-motivate the artiste,” as he puts it.
At 21, Tirth has already been there, done that! With more than 400 live shows under his belt, the ” café” music culture egged him on to pursue his dreams. As a student who came to Ahmedabad for higher studies, Tirth recalls: “I was completely overwhelmed by the idea of signing in a natural setting and being appreciated by people who understood music. The café was my first stage.”
Much like in Bhaumik’s case, the lockdown gave him time to re-invent his skill. “An absence of shows during the lockdown meant time to myself. So, I started writing songs. I must have penned some 45 songs during the two years,” he adds.
With two originals to his credit in the local song circuit, Tirth is optimistic. “The OTT platforms have opened the doors. Web series have been a huge saver for independent artists who just need that entry point into showbiz. Big labels are vested in their own interests and often compromise the quality of talent,” he says.
Shiv left the engineering course half-way in 2017. Because his heart lay elsewhere. “I wanted to undergo a full-time training in music. My family was upset but I was determined,” he looks back. But seeing his grit, his elder brother, a DJ by profession, composed a score and Shiv jotted down his mind. Thus came about his “first original” at the age of 19!
The positive response on YouTube led Shiv to “make more.” His channel has four original songs with the most recent, Zindagi, already setting trends. “Every guitarist calls himself a musician. Singing filmi numbers is not my idea of music. It kills the spark of creativity and makes an artist a saleable item,” he reflects on the current scenario.
For Ayush, the journey from Abu Road (city in Rajasthan) to Ahmedabad, was primarily to enroll in a CS course. Once here, he picked up a group of buddies and hanging around cafes became the norm. “Each time I was in the midst of music, I was in my space. It was like something within me that had to be let out,” Ayush recalls the days. Finally, he gave up the studies and devoted himself completely to music. A band was formed with independent artists and live shows were just a matter of time.
In a bid to create a community for performing artistes in Ahmedabad, Ayush turned entrepreneur and set up “Chai Yug,” a café to unwind with originals. Today, Chai Yug is poised as the beginning of many more originals to come.