23 Mar Karthick Iyer on IndoSoul, Independence, and Musical Identity
There has never been a better time to start a creative business than the internet and social media age we are living in right now. The ability to reach the rest of the connected world can be done with a phone in our pocket. Once within cellular reception, there are no gatekeepers preventing us from using the world wide web to share our ideas, art, and culture. That is exactly what IndoSoul, a classical music fusion band from India, are doing.
Karthick Iyer, the singer and violinist describes. “IndoSoul represents the spirituality of India (an idea that is commonly spread through Yoga) and combines it with the familiar sounds of the guitars and drums… IndoSoul takes Indian classical music (which the younger generation isn’t exposed to quite often) and presents it to the audience in a manner that is more familiar to them and therefore more enjoyable to them.”
The music of IndoSoul is a perfect synchronization and collaboration of its talented band members – Karthick Iyer, the frontman and violinist, Sumesh Narayanan plays Mridangam and is also a percussionist, Vikram Vivekanand plays the guitar, Ramkumar rocks the drums and Reshwin plays the bass.
“The Indian civilization has stood the test of time, welcoming and absorbing numerous cultures along the way – reinventing itself with every addition, but never losing its depth. In a similar vein, IndoSoul goes beyond the confines of genre, seeks out and welcomes other musical influences – while retaining its core identity of Indianness.”
As the independent music scene in India is slowly blossoming, Karthick, like many artists, has paid the bills by working in the huge local film industry. “Working in the film industry as a musician is quite different from being an independent artist in India,” he muses. “With the film industry, your freedom of creativity is quite limited. You are given a sort of formula on how the music must be and you have to follow it with a very small percentage of allowed deviation. It is also more streamlined and an easier process to follow. It works like a simple chain of supply. Being an independent musician gives you space to create and ideate as per your vision.” Credits include a song for a Bollywood movie, as well as several TV ad jingles.
IndoSoul is currently jumping headfirst into the world of music crowdfunding in, as they are currently raising capital to record their third album via a local artist-oriented platform, Goodclap. According to Goodclap’s Sita Pavani, “crowdfunding is in its nascent stages in India. It is not yet mainstream in the Indian market but the rate at which people are looking to crowdfund their ideas, the next few years look really promising for crowdfunding in India.” Goodclap already has over 500 artists (in all sorts of art forms – music, mime, dance…) in the year since launch, clearly tapping into the needs of their target audience.
“Independent musicians don’t often have a rigid day-to-day plan,” Karthick says on the topic of his schedule. “Every day is different. For example, when [the band] has a concert, half the day gets taken up by set up, soundcheck and the actual concert or composition sessions. If there are no concerts, we have discussions and meeting at the office. I also set apart some time every week to just be alone and listen to music.” Listening to music is such an important tool for growth that he even makes it his advice to younger artists. “They have to keep listening to new music. When we listen to a lot of music, the subtle nuances get lodged into our brains and help us later on. [Also], it is very important to have a musical identity of your own. A lot of people tend to ape or re-create the style of music followed by their favourite artist and while this does provide a solid foothold to start with, It leaves your identity in the dust. At the end of the day, we need to get to a point where we express our true self which shows a lot of character, however crude or rough it may sound at first. Over the years you will learn to add sheen to it. It also goes without saying.”
“Independent music allows you to express yourself freely and convey your thoughts to the audience. It allows for out-of-the-box thinking which is a true form of expression. […] It is always a challenge to combine Indian music with the newer styles to cater to the younger audience. The goal is to speak to the culture and traditions that they may have picked up through their heritage and upbringing and also to the kind of world music they are used to.”