Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They Unearthed Sufi Singers From South India

They Unearthed Sufi Singers From South India
By: Bhairavi Jhaveri

Chennai-based record label EarthSync is giving an unusual twist to folk music from around the world. iTalk chatted up co-founder, Sonya Mazumdar on their rare finds

Fusing Sufi singers from Nagore, Tamil Nadu with Middle Eastern percussion, sprucing up vocals by traditional singers from Myanmar using a soothing arrangement, even mixing electronica with folk in their latest project, EarthSync has managed to make folk music saleable without dipping into the "fusion" market.

The essence of EarthSync's music remains raw, with a naked representation of the soul of folk artists.

It was founded in 2005 by Sonya Mazumdar and Yotam Agam with the Laya Project as their first production, which captured a musical journey of the Tsunami-affected communities in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar and India and was distributed as a double CD + DVD pack.

The aim was to provide support to folk artists, their culture and the beauty of the lands without indulging in charity.

What kind of folk and traditional music were you looking at promoting when you started?
Our idea was to identify and provide global recognition to music forms that were popular locally, but not confined to boundaries of these lands. Laya Project was our first production, for which we travelled to six countries to record music among local communities, since we believed the Tsunami was affecting not only those in lands it had ravaged, but cultures here too.

The Laya Project's music documentary was sold along with a DVD. Why was a visual representation necessary?
It's a personal musical tribute to the survivors as well as the resilience of the human spirit. The production creates a composition that mixes and enhances original recordings, and embarks on an inspirational visual and musical journey crossing borders, while preserving the music of the people. Some of the performances are rare, and needed to
be documented.

What is the focus of EarthSync's second production titled, Nagore Sessions?
Nagore Sessions features 3 dargah singers from the district of Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu. When we featured one of their songs in the Laya Project, we realised that their music needed a distinct platform. Here, Nagori singers collaborate with Middle Eastern percussion and Indian instruments from North India. The album marks the discovery of Sufi music from South India.

Is folk music difficult to sell?
It's not about the music per se, but about presenting it in a way that audiences appreciate the richness of the music. Fusion is often more easily absorbed by audiences, however, there is an ocean of traditional music forms that can stand alone in all its majesty. This is evident in Laya Project, in tracks such as Katalu Talu from Indonesia, and Tapattam from India, Buduburru from Maldives.

What does it take to source music, find the artists?
A lot of research! We search countries and localities for native music, often not very recognised in the other parts of the world.

Tell us about Business Class Refugees.
Business Class Refugees (Kartick & Gotam) is a collaboration between music producer Patrick Sebag and Yotam Agam, a sound designer, who have remixed EarthSync's folk productions to create an alternative, electronic album and a special live show.

What's unique about upcoming release, Shoshan?
Shoshan by acclaimed composer Shye Ben-Tzur, comes from Rajsathan. He performed with his group of Rajasthani vocalists and percussionists and set Hebrew poetry to Qawwali music.

The complete EarthSync range Laya Project, Nagore Sessions, Techari, Voice Over the Bridge and Business Class Refugees is available at all leading outlets like Landmark, Plant M and Rhythm House.

EarthSync distributes in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai and is priced between Rs 295 and Rs 800. Log onto www.earthsync.com for more information


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