Ska Vengers, The
The Ska Vengers is a new Delhi based band who blend ‘ska’ rhythms with elements of dub, punk, jazz
and rap to come up with a form of music that is refreshingly different, energetic and highly danceable.
Keys man, Stefan Kaye rounded up a few of his musician friends to form the band in the fall of 2009.
The band was put together since there was a lack of energetic, harder edged dance based live mu
sic in India.
All members are highly experienced performers in their own right. Nikhil, Stefan and Tony play in
experimental ‘unjazz’ outfit ‘The Jass B’stards and psych-disco band Emperor Minge (with Samara C).
Various members have either won or been nominated for Jack Daniels Rock Awards in keyboards,
bass, drums and vocals categories. Samara is also an actor and is well known as a TV presenter on
NDTV. Delhi Sultanate has garnered much praise for his highly skilled, socially conscious rap with
drum ‘n’ bass team BASSFoundation and through his WORD, SOUND, POWER project with Chris
McGuiness. Raghav is also known as selecta with DJ collective ‘Reggae Rajahs’
The Ska Vengers play very much for the moment as carefully worked out structures are at times
elongated and receive dub treatment and Delhi Sultanate’s unique and highly rhythmic patois provides
a suitable foil to Samara’s more sweet and soulful vocal styling.
They add their unique take on songs from reggae and soul legends such as Lee Scratch Perry, Betty
Harris, Marcia Griffiths and when reworking classics from the likes of Velvet Underground, The Clash
and even RD Burman, but really come into their own with their original material.
Following the release of their first song ‘Rude Boy Skank’ on the Stupid Ditties IV compilation album
in October 2010, the band created huge waves with a handful of gigs at Ska! Ska! Ska! evenings at
Q’BA with their now expanded line up featuring Rie Ona (sax) and Yohei Sato (trombone). More
recently the group played a storming set in Delhi with ‘banghramuffin’ Apache Indian and brought the
house down during a full set at the ‘Justice on Trial’ event at Alliance Francaise. The band have a
number of notable musicians and writers among its fan base and received a request from author and
social activist Arundhati Roy to perform at the launch of her latest book in May 2011, where as part of
their set, the band collaborated with Roy and performed a specially written piece accompanying a
monologue she had put together for the occasion.
The band has completed work on its debut album, which is slated for release in October 2012. It was
mixed by acclaimed UK based music producer and winner of this year’s JD Rock Award for best
Indian producer, Miti Adhikari (Radiohead, Coldplay, Foo Fighters and India’s Menwhopause,
Supersonics and Them Clones).
In April the band staged the largest rock concert to be held in an Indian prison, performing for 2000
prisoners at Asia’s largest jail, Tihar. The event was picked up by international media and covered
extensively in The New York Times, BBC World Service, China Post, Los Angeles Times, The
Guardian, Arab News and many others.
They have received much praise from critics and audiences alike. Closer to home The Ska Vengers
have had articles appear in many publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, Platform, Rolling Stone,
Grazie, MTV Noise, Tehelka, Caravan etc and most English language dailies. Samara C, Nikhil and
Tony have all received nominations for JD Rock Awards in best singer, best drummer and best bassist
category respectively. Stefan picked up his award for best Indian keyboard player this year for the third consecutive year.
The group is widely considered to be one of the more vital and relevant live musical outfits in India