Sidharth Kadadi is a prolific and multi-award-winning guitarist and the founding member of India's premier Heavy Metal Band 'Zygnema'. In an exclusive interview with Sakshi Post, Sidharth Kadadi tells Reshmi AR about his guitar journal for learners, the evolving pop culture scene and more.
1. Let's begin with your band zygnema. How did it happen and how was the journey?
Well, it’s a long story. To summarise the entire ‘journey’, 3-4 like-minded guys met up at our guitar teacher's place and that is where we could feel the spark. I’d say we have just begun. There is so much we learnt and so much more to learn and apply and grow as musicians. Was it past tense? We are still here together. The journey will now begin :-)
2. There's a huge K Pop influence that has enveloped the world. India, particularly, has a huge Army of BTS fans. Do you think how the kind of music people consume music is changing by the day?
I genuinely am living under a rock. I know a few people in my circle who enjoy K-pop music. I have heard of the name BTS, but never really heard their music nor do I intend to. If I was a mainstream music composer/director, then I would have been doing my homework about everything. But yes, as a guitar instructor, it's definitely evident that the musical tastes are swaying away from what actually teaches you about REAL MUSIC. The trend is what it's all about and every kid around the block fears missing out on the trend and being left out of their circle of friends. Quite sad if you ask me.
3. Tell us about your book, Guitar Journal. One always taught that instrument learning involves physical training, are you trying to change that perception?
I am only trying to introduce a perfect guide/ module in the hands of a self-learner, a teacher or whoever wants to learn the basics of the guitar. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole idea behind this book is to standardise music learning in India where every teacher/student knows what to refer to when you are just about to begin your journey as a guitar player. Learning under the instructor is the best, but having a structured module and an approach along with a trainer is even better.
4. How has been the response to your journal so far?
The response has been quite good. I am happy with the way things started. The book is out and people are talking about it and sharing their experiences already. It's been exactly a month TODAY since the book was released. Yet to go all out with this piece of work. Eventually, we will see the response it deserves.
5. Don't you think music lessons are best when they are interactive?
Always. Interactive, practically viable, inspiring, and easy to understand. These should be the primary focus while teaching. The level of the student shouldn’t matter.
6. Does the online medium eliminate the teacher-student concept?
No, it doesn’t. You are still learning from a teacher who is coming online and instructing you one on one. Some form of mentoring is better than no mentoring at all. If you meant YouTube channels and other paid pre-recorded courses then they are just great reference material. One should get into that only after you have completed 6-8 months of learning and playing music under a teacher.
7. You have been a teacher yourself, how did you come up with this idea of an online learning guide for learning guitar?
I have been teaching for 15+ years and am also an academic consultant for Trinity College London. I have conducted quite a few teachers training-support workshops for teachers who send their candidates for these exams. Most teachers misunderstand this examination syllabus as a teaching syllabus. So to answer that question and to make them a little more aware, I compiled this book which covers the entire foundation level (Initial grade to Grade 03) for guitar. Completing this book is like finishing and knowing an entire syllabus thoroughly. So whether you learn online or offline, this book is a definitive guide.
8. Who is your target audience for the book--beginners or professionals?
This book is for both. Absolute beginners who want an end-to-end solution and professional teachers who would like to bring some structure to their teaching and emphasise more on the journey of the student as a guitarist than covering only basic songs and sending them for exams.
9. What's your take on music lessons in educational institutions being just a co-curricular activity and not a subject?
It needs to be a core class and not an extracurricular activity. Music indeed helps one to build their personality, and confidence makes you a team player, improves reflexes, memory, etc. This is a skill that remains with you for life and helps you fight a lot of mental health issues. The Sooner they introduce music in schools, the better the mindset of our youth.
10. Can a person who's absolutely clueless about the instrument benefit from the book?
Yes. There are so many who are clueless about the instrument, but still ended up buying a guitar and are letting it eat dust. The internet does this to most of us and we fall prey to it. They can always use these books to join some dots and refer to some instructional videos online and get going with something.
11. What happens at the Guitar Garage Inc?
As the name spells it out, enthusiastic guitar spankers of all ages and caliber come here to learn and sharpen their skills. We learn and play music and have a holistic approach to teaching and learning.
12. Pandemic was a difficult time for everyone. How did it affect you and your work?
It didn’t affect me or my work per se. Yes, there were plenty of challenges. But it all boils down to how we adapt to it and what our immediate solution is. I was conducting online lessons and had planned out my module based on the online format so that it doesn’t affect anybody's progress in learning. But that’s history now. We are offline and the candidates are back where they are the happiest. Inside Guitar Garage inc’s studio.
13. In your line of work, is talent enough to prove your worth or does having contacts in the industry opens up a window of opportunities?
Talent is 50%. The remaining 50% is discipline and determination to chase what you want the most. You got to be realistic about what you want and understand the challenges involved in between. We are from a time when we used to distribute flyers outside colleges and pubs to promote our gig and ensure it's packed during our gig. We still like mixing both. On-ground promotion along with digital marketing. That’s called understanding the opportunity to meet people for real and making contacts for real. Everyone has their own formula which works for them. This is what works for me.
14. Music is no doubt the best way to de-stress. And with social media channels offering a platform to showcase one's talent, does it become easier or difficult to make a mark?
I’d say it’s a necessary evil in today's time. But don’t just aspire to showcase your talent in the virtual world. It's all in your comfort. Step on a real stage and try executing your own gig. That’s what makes you a real musician.
15. How does one sustain with so much competition around?
Discipline and keep an eye out for new opportunities that will welcome your skill-set. You need to have multiple streams of income if you're going to do only music. For me, it's been studio sessions, Teaching, education consultancy, writing modules for other educators, hosting workshops, and playing cover music frequently to generate a steady source of income. It's your job. You have to work every day to earn every day. If you can’t do that, then you have to re-think being here.
16. Musical concerts have now gone virtual. Do you think people would still love concerts after the pandemic scare?
Gigs are back. There were very few virtual gigs that happened. People are out. Venues are filling up. We refused to play a virtual gig and did a live gig with a capacity of 150 people at social before the second wave. The government had eased down the rules back then. This was on Nov 29th, 2020. Few months before the second wave hit. People more than love attending gigs. This one’s a no-brainer. People will attend.
17. How's the musical scene in India in terms of monetary compensation? Do you think musicians too deserve to be paid on par with other artists in the entertainment industry?
This is a very sticky subject. Everybody is each other's enemy here, knowingly or unknowingly. The day Bollywood culture ends (which is never) we might see some tiny improvement in musicians' lives provided they all decide to work in unison and have each other's backs.
18. What next after the guitar journal? Tell us about your future projects.
I have already compiled the 2nd book. Just needs a lot of editing and I need to re-think a new approach for this one. But I will wait for the first book to reach a specific number with regards to sales and then I will put out the second one. Side by side, I am working on Zygnemas 3rd album and a new side project which I can’t disclose at the moment. But yeah, 1 day at a time.