It was exactly 10 years ago that Delhi-based band Advaita played their first gig. As they work on their new songs, guitarist Abhishek Mathur talks to Nikshubha Garg about the changing face of Indian music and how the band has survived and thrived over the years
These 10 years have been great,” Abhishek Mathur, guitarist of Advaita, is quick to reply when we congratulate him on his band completing a decade in the music industry.
Re-inventing themselves at constant intervals has helped Advaita stay ahead of the race
The eight-member band based in the capital came together in September 2004. It was on September 21, that they played their first gig. Over the years, Mathur, and the other band members — drummer Aman Singh, keyboard player Anindo Bose, western vocalist Chayan Adhikari, bassist Gaurav Chintamani, tabla player Mohit Lal, sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan and Hindustani vocalist Ujwal Nagar — have managed to carve a niche for themselves in the live music circuit.
A distinctive fusion of contemporary Indian psychedelia and traditional instruments with electronic and rock influences, has ensured that theirs is a sound few can forget. “With time, our sound has become edgier, to a point that we no longer call ourselves a fusion band. It’s more of post-fusion,” explains Mathur with a smile.
Down memory lane
The musician admits that the music industry has seen a sea change since they started out. “The days of tapes and CDs are gone. The Internet now gives listeners access to everything. Having said that, the exposure has made the audience far more receptive. It is only in today’s times that we see artistes writing their own music and being popular for it,” he says.
With so many bands incorporating influences of rock, psychedelia and electronic music, isn’t there a risk of sounding similar? “That’s where the challenge lies. A band must rejuvenate itself constantly, yet stick to the kind of music they make and have a distinctive sound,” he says.
Milestones and more
In 2009, Advaita was one of only four bands from India to be selected by producer John Leckie — who has worked with John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Muse — for the British Council Soundpad Project, where they recorded two songs, Just enough and Colourful, for a globally-released compilation Drops of Earth. “That was by far the most memorable experience for us as a team. Working with a legend such as Leckie boosted our confidence and taught us so much about music and aspects of marketing, promotions and team work,” affirms the band member.
With two albums behind them, does the thought of commercial success cross their mind? “Yes, it does. Beyond a point, you can’t be happy with critical acclaim. But we will never compromise on the kind of music we make just for commercial success. As long as we earn enough to support ourselves and keep making the kind of music we love, we are happy,” says Mathur. And what does the future hold for Advaita? “We are releasing new songs and video content.
We are also launching the new look of Advaita. Finally, we will come out with a new EP soon and will be touring cities to promote it,” he signs off.