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Amyt Datta

It's all or nothing at all for guitar virtuoso Amyt Datta

The quartet performs Amyt Datta’s originals — a completely instrumental setup inspired by music of all kinds, from psychedelic rock to progressive

Sramana Ray | Published 24.08.23, 06:20 AM
Amyt Datta at Skinny Mo's Jazz Club

Amyt Datta at Skinny Mo's Jazz Club

B Halder

After dominating rock and jazz music spaces, Amyt Datta has come up with Amyt Datta Electric Power Quartet with some talented musicians from the city — Sambit Chatterjee (drums), Samrat Mukherjee (keys) and Aakash Ganguly (bass). The quartet performs Amyt Datta’s originals — a completely instrumental setup inspired by music of all kinds, from psychedelic rock to progressive. They’re soon going to release their album, Electric (being mixed and mastered at the moment) and are headed for a tour as well. Amyt Datta spoke about what goes on inside a guitarist’s mind.

What was the concept behind forming the Amyt Datta Electric Power Quartet?


When I started writing music, I heard the potential. I could present it in a very acoustic style or with high voltage, full of energy. So, some of the tunes with the Quartet lend themselves to the electric version of my music. Then I set about finding musicians who could do justice to this kind of music. Sambit is very powerful and his projection is great, Aakash has been playing with me for a while and I needed someone to play the keys, and Samrat is doing well. The concept arose from a desire to give my music a special avatar. I like playing my compositions this way.

How different is it when you play with the Quartet?

This specific Quartet is all about projecting energy out to the crowd. Back in the ‘60s, when jazz and rock fusion music started, rockers learnt jazz harmony while jazz musicians picked up rock traits. They presented it with the energy of rock but harmonically sophisticated pieces. That’s the basic concept behind this band and that’s how it differs from the acoustic, Spanish-y sounding, gypsy and country set-up. This has also got flavours of Indian music but it’s more progressive... I think that’s the word.

What are your upcoming projects?

We just recorded our upcoming album and it’s being mixed and mastered at the moment. Hopefully, in a couple of months, we’ll release the album. I’m planning to take the band on a tour to promote the album. Back in the day, big brands would sponsor bands so that musicians could go around the country and reach out to as many people as possible, there was more effort and recognition in what was done before. Now, that culture is unheard of. Money is there but for the Bollywood industry and cricket industry, not for us. So, that’s the plan but I don’t know how far it is going to work out.

What do you plan on doing with the pieces you played at Skinny Mo’s?

The plan was to make sure that people go home thinking: “What was that?” This was a mix of rock attitude with jazz harmony and also got the complexity and aggressive expression of the band. The music really jumps at you and gets you. This kind of music is like me or my character, it’s like a take-it-or-leave-it kind of a thing. The “we come at you” kind of attitude is what this beast of a band upholds. So, sometimes the audience might feel it’s an overload but they’ve to take it.

Apart from the band, what else do you plan on doing with music?

I want to record another album, which I’ve written. It’s got fresh tunes with a different kind of style and I plan to record it this winter. It’s got a working title which I don’t want to disclose but I hope it’s something people will enjoy. It’s tough for musicians like us, we need to have a lot of willpower and grit to carry on doing what we love amidst the lack of money and popularity. You have to be committed and have to persevere.

What is the difference between playing ‘then’ and ‘now’?

Thanks to YouTube and the internet people are listening to all kinds of music. My students and people who come to listen to us are generally educated about music. So, definitely, the reaction is much better nowadays than it was before. There were people who’d understand back then as well. It was easier back then as the phone would ring and we’d be told a corporate gig or festival is happening and we’d be there. Now, you have to organise everything on your own and it becomes unaffordable to get the band to fly in and so on. At this stage of my life, I’m like, give it all or leave it.

What’s on your playlist at the moment?

I’m not listening to any music now to avoid getting influenced by other styles. Sometimes I like to do that. I’m watching myself closely and channelling my energy towards finding myself, yet again. I do listen to some old avant-garde electronic music sometimes; I listen to jazz and some rock music too.

Any artiste you have in mind that you’d like to watch in Calcutta?

Given the chance, I’d bring all my friends from all over the country to play. Friends from Bangalore, Mumbai, and even New York, once the logistics are figured out. The whole system and society, the entire structure needs to support us and musicians. The art form suffers when these artistes shift to the kind of music which pays bills. It doesn’t remain as art for art’s sake. That needs to be transformed.

Last updated on 24.08.23, 06:20 AM

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