Bangalore based Vinayak^a has been making steady and firm strides in the electronic music world in recent times. One of the most forward thinking musicians around today, his live performances are a force to reckon with. What makes him even more interesting is the story of his humble beginnings and the way he continues to remain deep rooted in the tradition and culture inculcated in him during his early years.
We cought up with him to try and unravel his past, present and future:
How and where did it all begin?
I believe that I had early beginnings. As early as the time when I was around three years old, I have memories of when dad would listen to music on a floor system which he brought back from Australia in the 80s. My mother was trained in Indian classical music and listening to her practice was a process which subconsciously introduced the discipline of music to me at that age. We were in Bokaro from where we moved to Jamshedpur in the late 90s, and during this time my parents enrolled me in classes to learn playing the tabla. Learning to play the tabla is probably the single most important element which has prepared me to create complex rhythms today.
You come from small town Jamshedpur, which makes it even more interesting to understand your beginnings and influences. What were you early influences and how do you think they shaped up your early years?
Jamshedpur is a small green beautiful city in the north Indian state of Bihar whose cultural fabric is bound together by a small but strong following for music. My mother was part of a group of musicians who based their music within the framework of Rabindra Sangeet. During those early days, I would accompany my mother to various sessions and performances and play tabla along with the group. These days it is very easy for people to take up electronic music, and start producing, without actually having to go through the discipline of learning an instrument. I was fortunate in that respect because my parents made me learn instruments at a young age, which I am incorporating into my music now; it just came to me in my life without my asking for it, and I am grateful for it.
After completing school, I was unsure about plans for the future, because there was a strong urge to create something inspiring and motivational. My parents arranged to send me to Bangalore for higher studies, and it was here that the playing ground for where I am right now was set. It was here that I got introduced to new sounds and styles of music which directed me towards the path I am on right now. The process was gradual; for instance, I remember hearing a couple of Paul Oakenfold tracks, and wondering if somehow this could be infused with elements of my musicial learning, and whether that would result in something interesting and enlightening.
Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, a discipline?
For the last ten years, I have been following a disciplined routine, which I’ve realised is key to creating music in the way I’ve come to work. The calm of morning hours provide a time when my mind is open and receptive to creative instincts. After taking care of morning household chores, I begin my day with a small prayer following which I embark on the journey of creation. My creative process is made up of day long sessions, which some times spread into late night too – my normal daily ritual is made up of 12 to 16 hours long sessions – and sometimes I push myself a little further. Pushing myself is important because that inspirational moment of creation is very fleeting and would normally take over me only for a few seconds or stretch into maybe a few minutes, and I wouldn’t want to miss it.
It has been some time since you came out with your debut album, and you have constantly been working on new material. Do you look back at your earlier work and see the changes in direction?
[Laughs] I don’t really look back and compare what I’m doing at any moment with what I may have done in the past. That is like answering an exam and correcting it for yourself. My first album was an experiment with field recorded sounds; that gave me a huge kick because I had always dreamed about finishing a solo project. My work today is not very different, just that the nature and depth keeps getting more intense with my experiences.
There is word of a second album in the works. What can listeners expect?
My second album is called “Towards the Unknown”, and it is a journey based on my psychedelic experiences. Naturally, the album would have a heavy tilt towards a psychedelic sound.
Any other artists who you think are doing good work and anyone you would like to collaborate with and why?
The reason why I would collaborate with anyone would be to create something which hasn’t been done before. Our experiences are rooted in our backgrounds, and one of the reasons why I started making music was to bring two diverse genres of influences together and see how I can merge them together into something new.
Traditionally, music has had the objective of creating enlightenment, and in some cases, an enlightened source of being has been the source of music creation. I would like music to go back to this, and while I work on my music, this is what I have as my objective. I have worked with other musicians in the past, and will continue to collaborate in the future, dependent on the music.
But if I had to pick only one artist, it’s been a dream to have the opportunity to work with Solar Fields.
What are your favorite cities to perform in?
Personally I’ve really been enjoying my gigs at Swig in Pune and Q-Bar in Chennai. They love the “boom boom” music I play, and they love me too.
What direction is the music going to take in times to come?
Hard to say what direction the music would take because every day is an effort in experimentation. The only constant that I should hopefully continue to strive for is connecting the heart, mind and soul.
written by Asif Khan