New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANSlife) While on tour in the United States, sarod maestro Amaan Ali Bangash takes out time for a quick tete-a-tete with IANSlife to talk about music, social media and new collaborations.
Q: You just collaborated with Eagles, how did that come about?
Bangash: Five years ago, Joe Walsh from the band was visiting Mumbai and we were invited by a common family friend to meet him. So my entire family flew down from Kolkata to meet him, and we gifted him a sarod, which he was very keen on having. My brother was in correspondence with Joe’s team for a track, which we were supposed to record together while in LA. Call it destiny, but our sarods were never delivered by the airline company from Vancouver to LA. So all we had to record with was the sarod that we had gifted him. If we hadn’t met him five years ago we would have never recorded that album. So it was solo performances with them and one track became three and before we knew it we had recorded 11 tracks in all, one after the other. And then Joe introduced us to Ringo Starr from the Beatles and it was just fabulous.
Q: What did you learn from that experience?
Bangash: A lot. The humility and the way they are as people… so down to earth, I cannot imagine a celebrity from India being so humble and nice.
Q: Other than classical musical festivals, you are also playing in world music festivals? How is the audience connect at these events?
Bangash: Obviously, it’s different. When you play Indian classical music, you are confined. You have to restrict yourself to be within the box. There are certain norms that you have to follow, you can’t cross the boundary. When you play at world music festivals like Adelaide Music Festival or Woodstock etc, it’s not just about music, the audience connects with you as a person. They accept you or they don’t, it’s not how good or bad you play,they accept you for how you sound and feel. Then they connect with you. It’s about high energy, the same music has to be presented in a different way.
Q: Should nationalism flow into art and culture and promote that instead or religion?
Bangash: Music has its own language, which is not connected to words. Religion is connected to words. There won’t be conflict if a medium does not have words. You cannot manipulate the sound of music, but you can manipulate words. India is known for its history, art and culture, but communal and religious differences are unbecoming of such a historically and culturally rich nation. Just like the iPhone has an update to change with times, so should various religions update the interpretations of their texts to deal with the times we live in. Musicians and artistes are ambassadors who bridge cultures and divides, but cultures must also keep updating themselves.
Q: Social media is such a strong tool to connect with audience nowadays. As are people who are known as ‘influencers’. What in your mind are the qualities of an influencer?
Bangash: I think there should be a balance between what I do and what I post. So if I post a picture of me maybe eating in Moti Mahal or Sagar, it’s well within the reach of all of my followers. But when there are posts about may be luxury brands, I have to focus on how I present it, so that I am inspiring someone. Influence has to be a positive, so people look at your posts and feel good, not excluded. If I take a picture in the gym, I want musicians to be inspired and turn to fitness because being fit is as important as playing an instrument. Work hard, eat healthy, workout, take care of yourself, enjoy life, respect your family, help and be kind to people. That is the way to influence to people.