A month ago, Kolkata witnessed a powerhouse of a show as the Amyt Datta Electric Power Quartet did their debut gig at Princeton Club. Featuring percussionist Sambit Chatterjee, keyboardist Samrat Mukherjee and bassist Akash Ganguly, the quartet have a sound that is varied. It is said to have Indian classical influences meeting jazz, prog, metal and rock. In short, jazz or rock with creative modernisms.
As of now, the band does not want to keep gigging after their debut. They are focused on working on their album after which they plan to tour India.
Amyt Datta and Sambit Chatterjee spoke to The Telegraph about future plans of the band.
How was Amyt Datta Electric Power Quartet conceived?
Sambit: His (Amyt Datta) music always attracted me and made me feel like I want to practise hard enough to play with him and make music with him. Finally, in early 2020, I plucked up the courage to ask him whether I could play with him and he said he would give it a thought. After the first wave of the pandemic he sent me a text saying that he was thinking of making a band with his comrade Akash Ganguly and someone who he enjoyed playing with, Samrat Mukherjee. ‘Would you like to join me in this project? I want to make this sound different from what I usually do. I want a lot of your metal and progressive elements,’ he said.
He said he had always explored avant-garde jazz and new jazz space but wanted to explore the angrier side of me. That’s when it happened and we sat for two years and we weren’t looking for gigs. He said he wanted a unique sound, write an album and maybe do a gig later. What was important then was to be in sync and we could only do that by playing together. So we played on and off for two years but we jammed a lot with the Power Quartet. Then he said we were ready to play a gig and the recording of our album is still on.
When it comes to music you want to make personally, what your consciousness feeds to the music is important; I want to do that my entire life. It’s very personal because this is the music I want to be remembered for — Sambit Chatterjee
Sambit, sounds like it’s a dream come true for you.
Sambit: Most musicians have been a huge fan of Amyt Datta as a musician, as a person, as a mentor, as a teacher, guide. And his music has always been something that feels before it’s time. For the way he thinks about music, not only the way he plays but thinks about sound… he has always been ahead of his time. Whether it is the stuff he did with Skinny Alley or Pink Noise, or with Jivraj Singh… whatever he has done has been very honest. I personally have always wanted to play with Amyt Kaku. I have been seeing him from the time I was born. He played in my dad’s (Pandit Subhen Chatterjee) band Karma for the longest time (1985) as a guest member.
How did you go about choosing the band members?
Amyt Datta: Each musician has his own personality. Sometimes it can be muscle power with precision, sometimes it could be filigree work, other times it may be a robust, rock-steady quality. But all these will have to be presented in an aesthetic manner. And this is where art is. These musicians are a melting pot of some of these features.
Could you define the sound of the band?
Amyt: Well, even though it is difficult to give it a single term that describe the music, in short, I would call this music jazz/rock with creative modernisms.
Sambit: The four of us are people who like different things and that helps the music because it is extremely varied. We have Indian classical influences meeting jazz, prog, metal, rock. The set-up of my drums is something I haven’t done, it’s a weird set-up physically. Amyt Datta himself has weird Indian influences where he does not sound “Indian”.
What impact will the band have on the music scene?
Sambit: The direction which the music industry is taking is very natural. It needs to feed the masses, needs to make music the masses will enjoy because there are a lot of people working with music. Right now, synth wave, ’80s music is popular. If you talk about the international market and the way it’s going... if you talk about Bollywood... the South Indian vibe is the market right now. But when it comes to music you want to make personally, what your consciousness feeds to the music is important; I want to do that my entire life. It’s very personal because this is the music I want to be remembered for. My bandmates might second me on this because the money is not great but we’re not doing it to become rich. We’re doing it to express our inner musician and feelings. Industry-wise we are challenging the mainstream media. Now it’s up to the people to accept it or not. Maybe it’s not something for Loolapalooza, although we would love to play there, but the masses might not enjoy it. It depends on the people programming the festivals.
In terms of releases and shows what has the band planned?
Sambit: We’ve had our debut show but we’re not going to play another gig at the moment. We just wanted to let people know we are here. We have an album coming out and we are in the process of finishing and recording it. Hopefully by end of this year or early next year. Hopefully with some support we can do a tour of India.
Princeton Club saw the debut gig for the band. What was the response?
Amyt: Incredible! The response was quite overwhelming.
Sambit: We had almost 170 people but I didn’t see a lot of young musicians who play jazz and rock. I would be happy to see that. I knew that nostalgia would bring people to listen to Amyt Datta but they were mostly new faces. And they exist because I have seen them.
Pictures: Proshanto Mahato and Rajat Mitra