Folk fusion band Swaraag has been a part of over 1000-plus shows so far. In an exclusive interview with Sakshi Post, Swaraag band members share their journey.
Sakshi Post: How does it feel getting back to the live performance scene after the lockdown?
Swaraag: We live for live performances. The kind of music Swaraag creates and experiments with requires an energetic and honest audience. When we perform live we are able to not only gauge their reaction for feedback but also drives us to engage with them and stay connected. The lockdown was harsh for everyone yet necessary. However, resuming stage performances has been an absolute delight for Swaraag and we hope to continue performing more.
Sakshi Post: Your experience performing in Hyderabad, how has the city crowd response been?
Swaraag: One thing Swaraag’s bandmates have in common is our love for chai and so we always knew Hyderabad and its famous irani chai wouldn’t disappoint! Coming to the audience, we were rejoiced on seeing their reaction to our music. We have mostly played for north Indian audiences and going in we weren't sure how Hyderabad peeps would like it.
We can confidently say that the nightlife, culture and enthusiasm Hyderabad offered us will surely keep us coming back. Right from the venue to the vigour, everything was exemplary.
Sakshi Post: You have moved on to performing at clubs, how different has this experience been from the stage?
Swaraag: Clubs have a more intimate setting than open ground and stage performances. It may seem more mellow from the outside but we thoroughly enjoy the close-knit space and energy we share with our audience. It provides more room for honest feedback since it’s always harder to please a small audience than a big one with diverse music tastes. We have noticed that even though the space is limited, the vibrancy is through the roof even in clubs.
Our experience performing at clubs in the north has always been positive and Swaraag hopes to bring our music to Southern India as well.
Sakshi Post: Even though it's clichéd, what are your learnings from the COVID pandemic?
Swaraag: The pandemic took a toll on everyone but our takeaway from it was more on the positive side. Performing live is our niche and it's what keeps us going, however, we definitely saw the perks of going online. It connected us to a wider audience and we were also able to have time to ourselves to explore our music and experiment.
Although we wouldn't want to go back to it, we didn’t have any major complaints. The health and well-being of our listeners has always been Swaraag’s top priority and measures were strictly taken in accordance.
Sakshi Post: Among the four labels-Sufi fusion, Rajasthan folk, instrumental fusion, and Bollywood mashup which is more popular and requested?
Swaraag: That mostly depends on where we’re playing. When we go to Delhi and Rajasthan, we get a more zealous response for Rajasthani folk and sufi fusion. Whereas in other parts of India the response is fairly balanced amongst all four labels. We try our best to listen to our audience, whatever makes them happy is what makes Swaraag happy.
Since our roots are traditional, mostly all the songs and covers we play have folk beats to them. Instrumental fusion provides a great segue to showcase pure fusion, our use of instruments, and our artists. A Bollywood mashup on the other hand is the perfect way to end the performance on a high note with a bang.
Sakshi Post: How do you keep reinventing yourself and adapt to the modern music scenario and yet stay true to your Sufi tradition?
Swaraag: Traditional Hindustani and Sufi lies at the core of our and our forefathers’ music generation. Coming from the land of folk music- Rajasthan, it’s our innate quality to add a pinch of folk and sufi to all music we create. The tricky and fun part was playing around with western and modern music. We not only want to create music for Hindustani lovers but also reach western music listeners.
We do that by keeping up with the trend while bringing in our exclusivity to it. With 8 instruments on the band, we love to experiment to bring in a futuristic vibe while staying true to the Sufi roots...