Archive for October, 2007

31
Oct
07

Ambar – Video Shoot

It was meant to be and therefore it happened! It took three months and many postponements of the shoot date to finally reach a point where we had no choice but get it done. I think it was by end of August that we took a call on Ambar as the launch video song through MTV. Though Vishal and Shekhar were very sure Ambar should be the launch song, I was not myself too sure. Probably because I have always been biased towards Mysore Se Ayee from a very very long time.

Lets say everything that happened towards the completion of the video for Ambar now seems like a conspiracy of the universe in bringing together all the most improbable elements which made the entire process and the result very memorable.

Meanwhile, Anand Surapur (Phat Phish Records – Shot Rabbi’s video for Bulla ki Jaana), who knew me for sometime now (I was supposed to be launched through Phat Phish Records 2 years back), proposed that he would love to direct the video for Ambar and that too for free if Ambar would be the launch song!

Anand is a director who doesnt like to have a concrete storyboard to begin with. It can be quite frustrating to clients wanting know what the video is gonna be all about or how its gonna look. But, with Anand, the answer is never straight and you would be better off not asking him!

Till the video was finally done with, I didnt have a clue what it was all about! All I knew was that Anand is flying down some hep ‘motion control camera’ and that the whole video will be a single shot video. The song’s wave form was first mapped into co-ordinates which then was converted into a data that was fed into the motion control camera and the camera would then move according to the crests and troughs of the wave form of the song!!! aaarrrgggghh! Thats the concept???!!!! I wondered…and doubted the whole technical jargon thingy!

But the more frustrating point was that I made 4 trips to mumbai each time staying for nearly a week to 15 days everytime and each time the video shoot was postponed because ‘the camera never arrived’!!! Meanwhile there was this deal with MTV to submit the video before the first week of October. They would then bombard the video enough number times so that no one would wonder who the hell Raghu Dixit is when he opens for the Lycra MTV Style Awards 2007.

But, it was only by 18th of October, much beyond the deadline date, that I went back to Mumbai after being assured that the camera had indeed arrived. But damn, i forgot to ask if the cameraman had arrived too! It was only after I landed that I was told that the motion control camera had reached but there was no camera person to operate it! The technician who was supposed to arrive was stuck in shoot for Kamal Hassan’s movie in Chennai!

By now we had reached a point where we had no more time to lose. Anand ditched the motion control camera and instead decided to work with a handheld movie camera but still wanting to execute his idea of a single shot video! The camera person would hold the camera and sit on a Grip Trolley manually pulled and operated by four hunky men for about 200 metres and the entire song would be enacted as the camera and the trolley moved through those 200 metres! I was still doubtful about the whole process and i carried those doubts with me to the shoot location.

Location? It was a government run Animal Hospital!!!! But I was simply thrilled when i went to the location. The hospital was full of huge green trees and the buildings were beautiful old british-era structures. The trolley-camera would start at the beginning of a narrow tar-surfaced lane, continue to first a dog-house, then a piggery, a horse stable and then lead on to a broken, run down 1832 built Microbiology-Pathology laboratory where the main part of the video would be shot!!! How perfect that my first video gets shot in a Microbiology lab. The coincidence was hard to believe and the conspiracy of the universe was beginning to unfold! (for people who don’t know, I used to be a Microbiologist before I became a musician!). The big plan was to practice the whole run of 200 metres for two days and shoot on the third day.

Now was the tough part. Anand wants 7 good looking women for the video! We really couldnt afford the professional models. So the ever dependable Samira, Neysa and Bobby turn their mobiles on and start calling up friends and after many ghost-to-ghost hook-ups they finally managed to get 4 ladies including my good friend Anushka Manchanda (ex-viva girl). A good friend of mine, Deeba Shiekh came down to the location to meet me, and Samira immediately goes ‘would u be interested to act in the video for free?’ and Deeba didnt say no! The same evening my gorgeous wife Mayuri calls up from Bangalore and tells me that she is landing up next morning to watch the shoot. I was thrilled and urged her to bring along some pretty clothes…little did Mayuri realise she was getting conned into modelling in her husband’s video!!! So finally we managed 7 women…very good looking at that. Delna (Bobby’s Fiance), Anushka Manchanda, Mayuri (my wife), Poulomi (Samira found her on facebook I think), Tracy (Youhan’s gf), Deeba and finally Rohini (RJ on Fever FM).

The video would start with me singing the first two lines and then camera would first capture Delna (Bobby’s fiance), who would be on the balcony of a house and then catch Anushka walking dreamily into the camera as it flowed down. Meanwhile I would run to the next point and start walking with my back to the camera and slowly turning to it as it came down on me….the camera would swoop again up to capture some of the beautiful trees for about 6-10 seconds and come down before which I run to another point such that this time I am in front of the camera and walking towards it singing the song…like that we keep alternating between me, the women and the nature till the end of the video! Just that everything has to be perfect! The trolley has to be pulled to move at the perfect pace to reach the precise positions marked and the artistes too have to be at the precise point at the precise moment in the song! We practiced the whole motion for about 15 times.

Anand was shocked to learn that I would wear a lungi and kurta. He was disturbed that I was not wearing a casual T-shirt and jeans and chappals! But I insisted that I stay in my Lungi 😉 which kind of traded off well with me obliging to Anand’s demand that I shoot for the video without any makeup!

The cinematographer was Bakul, a frail and petite but tough woman. Navarathri ke din maal banaaneka hai was the line from her I will never forget! She was completely focussed throughout the shoot and despite many disagreements and arguments with Anand every now and then, she did a commendable job! Its so imporatant to be objective on a job! Sanjay and his team of strong hunky men too never did whimper even a single complaint pulling that heavy trolley up and down the road for 20 times or even more. The only problem I faced was that we did not have a PA system to play the song loud enough. What was available was an iPOD with an iTrip relaying the song onto a portable music system at a barely audible volume! I am sure u will catch me strumming and singing off the sync with the song in the video ;).

I think it was the 7th or 8th take that we managed to get that almost perfect take and i barely heard the casual murmer from Anand saying ‘pack up’! Our one shot video was done in as much time as the length of the song! But then we had waited for months and practiced for hours….and the result will be there for all to see by the first week of November once the video is aired for the first time on MTV! Hope you all will love it.

30
Oct
07

The Chef is at Work!

Thursday July 5, 2007

The album was recorded and mixed as long back as March end…but unfortunately we could not put our finger on the ‘right’ mastering studio and engineer….not just here in India but in the rest of the world.

Its been almost 5 years now since I started the recording process of this album…while there were many many hiccups (money, studios, microphones, cables, musicians, egos… etc) in laying down all the 8 tracks and then mix them down, little did I know that getting the right mastering engineer would be so frustrating. Getting it done in India was the last choice in my mind since there are no exclusive mastering studios in India…at least I dont know of their existence.

The next best thing was to hunt on the internet…and then there were so many of them that it was not only confusing but also difficult to get across to most of them….especially the more well known names….some did get back….but with a whopping cost with which I could record another album 😉 While I was losing patience, I was also losing time…August 3rd is the official launch date and its not just in my head…is out there….all the fans and lovers of our music are waiting….some have even sent cash to my residence address ‘pre-ordering’ a CD…and here I am wondering how I could get my CD mastered.

Then there was this moment of joy… i was lazing on my couch watching MTV at near mid-night and I heard this familiar voice…Sadho re…it sang….and my eyes sprung out awake…I listened and watched the whole music video…I was smiling throughout because the voice belonged to one of my fellow musicians-friend from Mumbai, Mohan…soon I found out that he now belonged to a band called ‘Agnee’ (reincarnation of yesteryear Agni)…which he formed with another friend of mine Arijit and Koko, a guitarist whom I admire since my college days. In the next week or more I had bought 16 copies of Agnee’s album and distributed to friends whom I thought would enjoy Agnee’s music…I urge everyone to listen to them…some really neat music happenning there!

Apart from Agnee’s music, what impressed me was the mixing and mastering of the album… while the album was recorded and mixed by reputed engineer Nitin Joshi, the mastering was by Ty DeGroff from The Final Sound studios, Albequerque. It took me days to get out of my agreement with the previous mastering engineer in France and then with some gracious help from Nitin Joshi, I finally managed to get in touch with Ty DeGroff. He was not only prompt in his responses to my emails, I also was lucky to find that he was free to take up my project immeiately. I managed to send the final mixes of the album and the moneys (which was very reasonable) to The Final Sound yesterday night.

The Chef is at work..the final seasoning will be ready before the coming Wednesday. I am sure it will taste good…real good!

30
Oct
07

The Trial By Fire!!!

Tuesday March 27, 2007

The last week was the busiest and the most memorable for the band. We played 4 concerts – The first two were corporate gigs and the next two were college fest gigs. While not much can be said about the first two, the concerts at PESIT and NIFT on 24th and 25th respectively will remain in my memory for a long time.

I had never done three shows in a row…and that itself was huge pressure. I didnt know if i would be able to sustain my energy and then my vocal chords for 3 back-to-back concerts…added to the pressure was a nasty throat infection which attacked me from nowhere. It indeed was a trial by fire…and also a sign for things to come in the near future with the album release slated soon.

It was trial by fire for yet another member of the band – Meet Jithin Das, a very talented violinist from Kerala now studying for his Audio Engineering Diploma Course at SAE, Chennai. I met him at the studios in Chennai where I was working on my movie project. I made him hear our album tracks and the young man took up to the songs like fish to water…and in two days came back to me well prepared with written notes for each song….only thing remaining was to remember those notes and sync with the band. Jithin arrived for practice on 21st. The next two days were exclusively for his practice with Sandeep and I. He never could practice with the whole band before he went on stage since practice had to be called off due to my illness. Jithin faced the audience on 23rd evening without a single complete band practice and boy does he know how to jam!

The crowds at PESIT and NIFT rocked…especially the latter. 24th show started with a slight glitch. We were provided with the college band’s drum kit and Siva had to spend an hour and more to tune it right….but boy he did make it sound great. That night was like coming back home. If u read my first post on the blog (What a fantastic beginning), PESIT show last year same time of the year was our first public performance. Half the crowd already knew our songs and it was a great feeling to have the audience singing along!

I had been warned about the NIFT crowd…by their own teachers!!! NIFT crowd is supposed to be extremely critical and can really be unforgiving if they do not like you. I was wary….only till we finished our first song! Boy did they rock and how?!!! NIFT crowd will be rated as one of the best we have played so far….they were with us beat to beat, word to word, note to note….and we loved every bit of the chaos these young beautiful people created!

At the end of the show, we just knew what it feels like to rock a crowd! And for me I knew I can sing for three consecutive days…with or without a throat infection. A complete review of the concert was written by a kind soul called ‘Althaf B’ on our comments section….just that his comment was so long that I felt it was appropriate to post it on our blog….scroll down and you could read that one too. 🙂 Cheers….see u soon. Look out for the BIG CHILL @ GOA.

30
Oct
07

RDP Rocks NIFT!!! Review by Altaf.B

Monday March 26, 2007

This was posted in the write-in section….but damn it was so long that it deserved to be on the blog!!! Here it goes…completely unedited version.

Althaf B – Freaking amazin performance..!!
I was bought up in a very orthodox setting, outside India..So every minute of freetime would be spend outdoors. Never had time for music at all. However now I have been in bangalore for past 2 years or so..Working and staying alone have given me time to finally sit and listen to a couple of tracks before crashing for the nite. The appreciation for music came automatically during my stay here. The respect for different kinds of music naturally came with the maturity that comes about from discovering life on your own.

A friend who studies in NIFT invited me for the show yesterday. Thats where I caught you guys in the act. Was I blown away or wat??.. The show was absolutely amazing. I really didnt know where to place your music man.. Indian folk, Pop, rock.. the fusion of all this by your little ” Project ”, as you call it, was simply mind blowing, nothing like I have ever heard before.

Sandeep was brilliant with the flute. He kept adding that touch which reminds you of your roots a lot, that you are an Indian first..

Siva.. Freaking amazin both with the band and when he went solo.. I am sure everyone noticed the intensity of his performance which was also clearly shown on his face.

Rahul.. again never seen anybody capture such a young crowd as easily as he did with just the help of his tabla.. The way he was playing, I really though either the tabla or his head would be rolling on the floor, cause he kept jerking it so much man… The combination of Siva and Rahul, even though brief, was again a masterpiece.. even though I have heard and seen the above fusion on the tube.. seeing it live was truly an experience..

Gaurav.. dude your dressing sense is super cool. never seen any one headbangin wearing a lungi before man.. supercool performance with the occasional jumpin was carried off perfectly…

Anirban…Man YOU RULE!!. Absolutely F@#$%#G brilliant. On certain numbers played, the way the focus goes onto him and the way he handles that pressure is amazing..At times, it felt as though he was stealing the attention of the crowd with his skills in between certain numbers. A small package.. however a very big punch.

And Finally Raghu, Dude you almost sound too good at times.. the way you handled the crowd showed a lot about you.. The Dedication you showed for each track showed a lot about your Music.

Am really sorry for just one thing. I didnt catch the name of the Violin Guy. When the band entered the stage, the first person i saw was him.. was thinking whats a violin doing in a rock show. However the way in which he added his touch was really unexpected. Never really expected the violin to play such an important role. He was really good.

On the whole a Kick ass presentation of really good music that really touches the heart at times making it go pump.. pump.. pump… pump.. at the same time sending shivers down your spine and also noticed it touching the head at times too making it go bang, bang, bang, bang all the time( your last song at NIFT was evidence enough of that.. My neck and my back have started paining already and from the feel of it.. have to wait for atleast 4-5 days to recover from that… )

You guys have really made a difference with your music. its mind blowing man.. super kudos to all of you for the dedication and skills shown yesterday… waiting for future shows and off course..your yet to be released Album.. will definately pick up a copy when realeased.

30
Oct
07

‘Psycho’

Wednesday March 7, 2007

Last two months have been exciting for me. I am just all over the place, clueless what my next move would be! There are two projects that I am involved in at the same time with conflicting interests! First, more importantly of course, is the album mixing and then the eventual release and then second, equally important (he he), is the Kannada Movie Project ‘Psycho’ for which I am composing and directing music. Because I am the music director, I am also having a field day claiming ownership to sing atleast 4 songs…he he again!

While Raveolution Studios has been busy with churning out mixes of the album, I have been busy parallelly composing, sequencing and then of course fighting against the provided budget to get the best musicians, best studios, best engineers so that my music for ‘Psycho’ could sound good ;).

The process of composing and designing sound for Psycho is proving to be extremely challenging but yet very exciting. Till now I have never got involved so much into sound designing as much as I have for ‘Psycho’. Not only did I get to meet and work with some phenomenal musicians and technicians but also encountered the amazing technologies and software tools that have sprung up all over. And suddenly I felt small…like that ‘toad in the well’ feeling! Everyday I walk into the studios like a scared student trying to remember what I had learnt yesterday and then wondering whats in store today. Santosh is the guy who not only has helped me in getting the sequencing and programming in place, but also patiently taught me what goes into making a track sound ‘filmy’…what technically can be called ‘Cinematic sound’. Ofcourse, almost 80% o what he says goes above my head and overwhelms me that I automatically go numb! Phew!
Sandeep, my bandmate worked with me on a daily basis to get the interludes composed. Shiva, the drummer-band mate of RDP is helping me getting the rhythm section tight. Psycho has 6 songs and a theme instrumental track. I have tried different genres for each song. While the first song is somewhat an alternative rock song named ‘Neene Beku’ (= I want only you) in Kannada (not sure if you can imagine that!), the second song Mahadeswara is an interesting song. Its a Kannada folk song which actually was a spontaneous vocal melody that sprang out of nowhere on a bed of a latino chords progression that Anirban played for me during one of the RDP jams long back and now this song finds a place in the movie. I should definitely mention Anirban as the co-composer of this whacky song.

The next 20 days is crucial for RDP is many ways…the road ahead is really the last leg….till we reach for a beautiful view…and then yes, we move on to the road ahead yet again…and the journey continues. Hop in…we sure do have space for you too.

30
Oct
07

Incident-alli!

Tuesday February 20, 2007

After a long long time, we played for a college show and most apprehensions that bands have about playing college shows came true for us! But that was not the end of it … the concert we played on the the 17th at NITK Surathkal’s Incident ‘07 was one of the best in recent times!

Its always fun to travel out of Bangalore and meet new audiences and add to that an energetic college crowd and its a performer’s dream! So we headed to the beautiful shores of Surathkal after finishing up a lot of last minute work here and completely sleep deprived!!

Well the whole sound check fiasco and the wait for getting the stage set up did take a bit of our enthusiasm away but then, it is always to be expected in these situations I guess.

When we did finally get started with sound check and setting up the whole thing, it was quite a big relief and after a few ‘management issues’ were sorted out, we went through the sound check getting quite a nice feel for the open air theatre and the sound itself.

A quick shower and a light snooze and some wonderful Mangalore Bajji’s and we were all set to rock and roll! When we arrived at the venue, NITK was playing a basketball match with Christ College and the OAT was absolutely empty when we went up and did a quick sanity check of the stage and saw that everything was in place like we wanted. Towards the end of our little check, we saw a huge flow of people from the entrance rushing in which was quite a nice feeling! its always fun to play for a full house!

We went back and got into our attire, and were out to entertain! The crowd was with us right from the first song! Anirban, the performer of the night was being sent a lot of love and affection from the wonderful bunch of ladies on his side and everywhere I could see in the front, it was a PARTY!!

Chants for ‘Raghu-Bhai’ and some inspired singing from the crowd got Raghu in his element and the show took a very energetic pace with Shiva being absolutely spot on and flawless with the drumming. I had to engage everyone in some chit chat when Raghu-Bhai managed to break his ‘E-String’ (sadly!! for all you ladies 😉 ) and had to fix it right there on stage and re-tune the guitar which went off quite decently I think!

When Raghu finally called the ladies on stage for the showdown and the guys who were feeling left out as well … I think we were stress testing the stage construction. There were more people on stage with me for that song than I’ve seen in my entire time with the band and it was a complete blast with new people joining every second!!
This show was a complete blast and a HUGE round of thanks to everyone who attended, a big ‘wink and a “how you doing?!?”’ from Anirban to all the ladies and whole lot of love from Raghu to everyone waiting so patiently for the first album .. make sure you grab your copy when its out … VERY SOON!!

Watch this space for a lot more .. I keep swearing to myself that I will write here more often but I guess this time I will keep my word. Send us your comments and tell all your friends and anyone and everyone about us … and keep coming back!

Keep the Groove!

-Gaurav

30
Oct
07

Bengalooru Habba ’06

Sunday December 10, 2006

Yesterday, we played at the Bengalooru Habba and it was quite a memorable gig for us. We called all musicians who were present at the venue who had played for us before to join us on stage and it was one big party!

We played a short and modified set which started off groovily with Hey Bhagwan … This song is going on the airwaves soon and you should be seeing a lot more of it very soon.
Then Rzhude from Thermal and a Quarter joined for a rocking version of Mysore se Aayi which really got the crowd on their feet!

We followed that up with Ambar for which Pandit Prakash Sontakke joined us with some amazing backing and a soulful interlude which had everyone reminiscing.

We then had to cut down our set by one song since the event was already running late and chose to go with Gudugudiya for the Kannada lovers in the audience and was that a good move or what! Since Siva was not playing for us for this show, Raghu took the Djembe and Anirban replaced him on acoustic guitars while Bruce Lee Mani of Thermal and a Quarter did his magic on the electric guitar!

In all … it was a splendid performance and we did manage to win a few hearts! Check pictures of our show on our flickr page here

If you guys were at the show, drop us a line and tell us what you thought .. 🙂

-Gaurav