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Three men in a cab and a mix of melodies

A student of psychology and medicine from Germany, a leather merchant from France, a mechanical engineer from Calcutta. They come from vastly varied backgrounds and cultures, but share a common passion for music. And they were destined to meet in the City of Joy.

When Stefan Taeuber, Yann Lefebvre and Amit Gupta hailed the same cab on Park Street an early November Saturday night, little did they realise that the chance meeting would spawn a whole new genre of musical fusion.

“We fought over the cab and initially, there were bad vibrations. But, then we realised we could actually share the taxi since there was only the one around, and we were headed in the same direction,” recounts Stefan. The 28-year-old, be-spectacled psychology major from the old university town of Jena in eastern Germany also strums his Ibanez acoustic bass to dabble in a bit of reggae, funk and ska, and is in town since October on voluntary work for an NGO.

Yalan (Yann’s artistic name), a techno-trance DJ from Reims in eastern France, had also touched down in October to further his dad’s leather business, not forgetting to pack his Yamaha drum-and-sampling machine along with his luggage. “The three of us got talking in the cab and instantly realised we don’t like each other’s music,” smiles Amit, who plays guitar for a local black metal band, Reign Of Terror.

However, once the nerves had settled, the trio decided to get together at Yalan’s Camac Street lair anyway to try out a jam session. “Yalan popped up some beats on his sampler, Stefan added some grooves to it and I did some licks around the stuff. We had to go completely by instinct, but it seemed to work and the pieces simply fell in place,” remembers Amit.

The positive chemistry enthused the motley threesome to stitch together a band and Projet K (for Kolkata) was formed. The fast-pumping electronic beats, driven by a black guitar and surrounded by a moving bass, united to create a new-fashioned style of danceable vibrations, which was unveiled before Calcuttans in the shape of their maiden gig at MusicWorld on Tuesday evening.

“We have kept our music intentionally simple and we draw inspiration from day-to-day life. It’s quiet and deep and groovy and gives the listener his/her own space to reflect,” says Amit of the Projet K sound. The nascent outfit is off to Goa next week and will do sessions there during Christmas week. “Goa is the birthplace of trance music and it will be an exploratory experience making music there,” observes Yalan.

Goa gigs notwithstanding, Projet K very much has Calcutta at the epicentre of its plans. “We would do a lot of jamming with local musicians, come January. A female vocalist and a tabla player could be interesting icings to our sound,” says Stefan, who has to balance his bass-playing with his social work for Sneh in and around the city.

The German psychologist, who makes music under the artistic name of Bog, counsels kids in schools on drug abuse, sexual behaviour, AIDS prevention and time management. “It’s wonderful to work on both the fronts. Maybe our music can soothe a few stressed-out souls, since it’s pure and straight from the heart.”

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