Whirling Kalapas is all about exploring newer sounds — is how founder Uday Benegal describes his band. Formed in 2008, it started as an acoustic act with Benegal, his Indus Creed band-mate Mahesh Tinaikar, and Sankarshan Kini. Six years later, Tinaikar isn’t a part of the band, and has been replaced with Ashwin Andrew. The band is going strong, with its first live gig in Mumbai with the new line-up at the Blue Frog this Wednesday.
Uday Benegal during one of their live performances
For this act, Whirling Kalapas have collaborated with four new artistes — Mynah Marie, an accordion player from Montreal, Canada, Ankit Dayal (vocals), Vivaan Kapoor (percussion) and a special guest, Swati Shah, a dancer who will add a new dimension to their performance. Benegal believes that collaborations are an important part of the band’s music, because it helps bring out the sound they want and explore newer tunes. “Whirling Kalapas is about live energy, and we like sharing that energy with musicians we admire and like listening to. We have always been about exploring and experiencing newer sounds. However, on many occasions, it’s just the three of us; at times, we play just one instrument to get the point across,” he shares.
Lyrics play an important role, often carrying deep-rooted views, questioning social values, and satirising on existing social and political scenarios. Finding The Mahatma, and their new track, Monkey Dance, which the band will play at Wednesday’s gig, are some such examples. The approach, however, is never to play the moral brigade but rather share their experiences. “Yes, there is a lot of questioning, but it’s at a personal level. They question one’s place in the turbulent world. Our songs are essentially about human emotions,” he reveals.
Andrew’s inclusion seems to have added a new dimension: “We all are vocally very rich, and can contribute at more than one level. There’s a lot of exploration; our music is getting bouncier,” he informs.
Such a long journey
Benegal will complete three decades in Indian music in 2015. From Rock Machine to Indus Creed, Alms for Shanti and now, Whirling Kalapas, the artiste has come a long way, and has performed with musicians from across the world, exploring, experiencing and expressing his love for music. When asked about how he sustains his music, he adds quickly, “I’m a travelling musician. I love travelling with my music, going to places and performing with different artistes.”
(From left) Uday Benegal, Sankarshan Kini and Ashwin Andrew
Has three decades of travel also changed his music? “My music has changed the way I have. With Rock Machine, it was raw. At Indus Creed, it matured as a Rock band. But we also explored new sounds. It continued when I formed Alms for Shanti with Jayesh Gandhi in the US and now, with Whirling Kalapas,” he adds.
When quizzed about the current status of Indie music in India, he was happy: “This is a good time for non-Bollywood music as things are changing. Indian Indie music has flourished and survived for the simple reason that people are making music for the love of it.”
On April 9, 10 pm
At BLUEFROG, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel.
ENTRY Rs 350 (post 9 pm), Rs 1,000 (cover)
Indian artistes: I like Jay Row Kavi of Indus Creed. He is one of my favourite musicians. He loves what he does. Of the newer lot, Sridhar Thayil is ridiculously interesting. Then there’s Adil and Vasundhara, Soulmate, Nikhil D’Souza, Spud in the Box, Skrat, a Punk Rock band from Bangalore and The Supersonics from Kolkata. In the Electronic music scene there’s Sand Dunes. She is very good.
The Who (when I was growing, The Who had a lot of influence on my music), Led Zeppelin, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray.