What happens when you pack Bollywood singers, Hindusthani classical artistes, western rockers and an American-Indian music composer into one studio? No, not mayhem but a spin on fusion famously known as Coke Studio, a monster jam leading to a quirky aural experience that has snowballed into cult status after its success in Pakistan and Brazil. The Indian chapter — Coke Studio@MTV — is all set to reintroduce itself in its second season starting July.
Season Two will feature musical heavyweights Amit Trivedi, Shantanu Moitra, Nitin Sawhney, Ehsaan and Loy, Karsh Kale, Clinton Cerejo and Hitesh Sonik as producers, collaborating individually with a range of artistes.
On a May afternoon, at a studio in suburban Mumbai, a sarangi is being tuned while guitar strings are being plucked and voices are soaring in alaaps and melismas at different ends of a big, broad circular stage surrounded by incandescent woofers mounted on textured walls done up in Coke Studio’s signature shades of red and black. For the last two weeks, the Reliance Mediaworks studio in Goregaon Film City, has been the nerve centre for Coke Studio’s sound universe.
Sitting in an enclosed preview room, t2 trailed American-Indian percussionist, composer and songwriter Karsh Kale’s cross-genre romp through beautifully crafted musical pieces.
Unlike the last season overrun by the collision of too many sounds, this year promises to be minimalist and freewheeling, evident from the stripped-down arrangements at the afternoon jam session...
Shuttling between keyboard and tabla while conducting his pieces for three hours flat, Karsh rises from his stool, puts on his jacket and hurries for lunch clutching on to a bunch of papers, aware of the busy day that has just begun.
The New York-based percussionist-composer, recovering from a back surgery, settles down for a post-lunch chat, where he takes t2 through sonic details of his setlist. From “recomposing the melody” of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah to blending Punjabi, Arabic and hip hop styles in “a celebratory way” for Glorious, Karsh explains how he wanted to “choose the right singer and present them in a way most people haven’t seen them. I wanted to project different sides to their voice that can flip from singing Hindusthani classical to western. This generation is so diverse that people should know and get inspired.”