Enriching the independent music scene, musicians Nirali Kartik and Kartik Shah of Maati Baani, have been combining elements of different genres of world music with Hindustani classical, funk and new age sounds. Every song of the band is a collaboration; either with street musicians, folk artists or even well-established artists.
The duo travels to the artiste's hometown, and records the music with the background of their cultural landscape. The bands latest project, ‘The Music Yantra’ is an online music series, where the band works on original songs while collaborating with various artists from all over the world - all discovered online. We got in touch with Nirali to tell us more about Maati Baani’s music, what keeps them going and advice for upcoming musicians of the world.
Maati Baani began its journey about 3 years ago, to unearth raw musical talent from the streets of the world by incorporating the sound of different cultures to one song! How did the idea come about?
Nirali: Yeah, Maati Baani set on its journey 3 years ago, simply to explore how beautifully classical music can be blended with the diverse tunes of various musical instruments around the world. Because there was no limitation of how a song should sound like, we set ourselves free to experiment with different genres in music.
It is very rare to have fans that enjoy Hindustani Classical; you’ve managed to lure fans belonging to different generations to enjoy the same. How do you respond to the fan love, that’s so diverse?
Nirali: It is very sad that we collectively as the youth of this country aren’t exposed to the classical music genre of our own land. Hindustani Classical is such an endless form of music, every student of this art has the ability to create unique music. I consider myself extremely lucky to have parents who encouraged me to learn classical music while I was young. I found an amazing Guru, Shri Vikas Parikh who made learning classical immensely engaging. And this fascination reflects in our merger of classical and world music for Maati Baani. The blend of diverse elements makes it enjoyable to a wide range of audience who haven’t been exposed to these forms of music.
However, there is a lot of thought that goes into achieving this perfect recipe; Kartik is the chef for Maati Baani who brings different ingredients together to prepare a yummy fusion dish!
And, we love the feedback we receive from our diverse set of fans, and we respond to this by making more music that would reach out to an even more diverse set of audience.
Not just the music, even your videos bleed of simplicity and originality. Do share a bit of advice for upcoming indie artists who face difficulty creating original content.
Nirali: Thanks! Well, this could differ from artiste to artiste, and band to band. But overall, it is very important to project the idea behind your song/music.
However, the execution has to be neat and technically strong. There is a lot of work that goes into post-production, and the one very important thing for an artiste is the song; the song is your baby. You have to put your foot down if you don’t like a technician’s work.
Very often, technicians try real hard to make you believe that their work is great, and sometimes even you settle for sloppy work instead of making sure your mental picture of the video comes through. Many artists have faced similar situations, but if you don’t like a persons work and it is not aligned to your vision, don't take it.
Your new video series has you collaborating with over 70 artists across 20 countries all done via the internet. Tell us about the challenges you faced while creating these videos? And, how did you tackle them?
Nirali: When something of this scale is done, challenges are bound to be there. It requires tremendous patience, time and insurmountable heights of dedication to get the material from an artiste which also fits in our vision. However, over a period of time we have found of various ways to work faster.
Also, the major battle of collaborating with artists out of the country, is sleep! Different time zones, day jobs, family life - even arranging a skype session is a task in itself, leave the entire collaboration scene alone.
The independent music industry in India is finally picking up. But, still there are major problems that upcoming artists face. Since, you were in that phase for quite a while, what is the one major issue that compels artists to give up, according to you?
Nirali: The independent music industry is not streamlined at all. The number of production houses that create indie music is miniscule; while for every other form of indie art like films, theatre, comics, there are quite a few production houses.
When a musician approaches a production house with a vision, the platform questions the viability of the project, and the answer to that question is always disheartening. Having said that, the spirit of indie musicians is something that shines like a beacon of light, and that’s what keeps the indie music scene alive and kicking!
However, it would be great if mainstream entertainment platforms would learn of the potential these artists possess and back them, here lays rich talent, untapped!
What's next in store for Maati Baani? Can your fans expect a grand worldwide tour with you performing with artists from various countries?
Nirali: For now, there is a lot that our fans can look forward to - many new songs are coming your way. Also, we have a few live gigs lined up, good things are happening and are keeping us very busy. And about the world wide tour, we would love to and some day would try to make it happen!