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Coke Studio@MTV

Sampler Episode – 17th June 2011

  1) Yaar Basenda – Featuring Tochi Raina & Mathangi – Watch Video
Tochi Raina and MathangiThis is a very out of the box piece of music for which i had 30 minutes to prepare. Sunidhi was going to be a bit late for her shooting so we had a few studio hrs on hand. Red chillies asked me if we could do something new in this time. Tochi I know from the time he arrived in Bombay & I always thought he had an interesting voice.

Mathangi was around as she had just finished her recording with KK. So i thought that this was a great opportunity to mix hard core Punjabi with hard core Carnatic Classical, 2 extreme styles musically and geographically combined with a trancy heading banging bass and guitar riff. 2 super artists you have to hear for yourself.

  2) Bichua – Featuring Sunidhi Chauhan, Mausam Gogoi & Bondo ( Tribal Percussionist) – Watch Video
Sunidhi ChauhanWhen Sunidhi came by the studio I suggested she do this song as i envisioned it as a "tribal audio drama". Sunidhis voice interspersed with the " missing bihu style" of Mausam Gogoi & the wild tribal beats of ace percussionist Bondo. All this time the music was in my head so had a bit of difficulty explaining it in "english" as music has its own language. Finally Sunidhi figured out what i wanted to do & was really excited because she wanted to experiment singing in Assamese on the same song. Now we were talking my language.

Mausam & I met in Guwahati when I was working on Pankhis album 3 yrs ago, sort of the similar music that you hear on Coke studio. I was really taken aback by the way he sang these very fluid beautiful melodies in a very high pitch without any effort. I knew i had to present his voice somewhere sometime.!! No better place than Coke studio.

Bondo and I go back to the 80′s when he was a young percussionist and i a budding guitarist. He has always been passionate about his music and so spent a lot of time in Spain & Portugal performing with a lot of international acts there. His constant trips out of the country kept him lying low in India. So this would be the best song to present this great musician.

  3) Tip Top – Featuring Shankar Mahadevan & Khogen Gogoi – Watch Video
Shankar Mahadevan and Khogen GogoiKhogenda and I met when i was recording Pankhis album in Guwahati. He was introduced to me as one of Assam’s prominent folk singers. There is something about his voice that being a lover of folk music attracted me instantly. The very easy going and happy style he sings Tip Top made me want to fuse it with something in Marathi.

I spoke to Shankar about this as i know he sings in many languages.
" Wallao Re Nakhva " is an old Koli Geet { fisher folk in its origin} but composed by Hridenath Mangeshkar and sung by Lataji. I grew up with this song as its very popular in Maharashtra. So Shankar’s suggestion of this song was spot on and I loved the way Shankar makes his entry half way into the song. I wanted to create a space where 2 singers who had never met each other could on a musical platform spark off each other and create magic.

But just singing 2 songs together cannot create magic especially when they are cultures apart. So making it into one seamless music is important. you may notice the delta Mississippi blues riff that is the glue in the song. Instead of using the Marathi Dholkhi I decided to use the Assamese Dhol featuring Somnath who is also very prominent in Assam.

  4) Chadta Suraj – Featuring KK & Sabri Brothers - Watch Video
KK and Sabri BrothersThis is a very popular qawwali that I grew up with made extra famous at the many beer bars in and around Bombay in the late 70′s & 80′s. There is something about this composition that had remained with me over these yrs. And I was happy to put KK & Sabri brothers together in this song. I wanted to twist qawwali on its head and infuse an Afro funk bass line which sets the pulse of the song. I knew KK would fit this part perfectly for a couple of reasons one being his first Bollywood hit was Tadap Tadap which is in the same musical space as this song. And secondly when i introduced KK in his album Pal & Yaaron Dosti, I have known him as a young singer and seen the various strengths in his voice. This time i was going to introduce a side of KK you have not heard before. His low timber in his voice is very different from the everyday KK songs you hear. And i wanted to contrast it with the high timber of the Sabri Brothers. Extremely opposite timbers singing with the same emotion.

My visualization on this song is that KK s voice is the celestial voice saying " Chadta Suraj dheere dheere dhalta hi rehejaega" , whereas the Sabri Brothers voices are like mere mortals on earth screaming to be saved. Enjoy!!

  5) Hoo – Featuring Harshdeep Kaur - Watch Video
Harshdeep KaurHarshdeep Kaur is a singer i saw popping up on a reality show and she was signing a Sufi track. The way she approached the song had her own stamp on it. She kind of did it in her own way which is the hallmark of a good artiste. So when her name came up as a possible artist on CS India , I realised she was already performing with AR Rehman on his live tour.

when she met up with me at Red House, My studio there was an air of confidence about her considering she is a very young artiste.

One of the songs she sung for me was Hoo which instantly struck me as " awesome" for 2 reasons. one being that it is a very old song having deep roots in Punjab area. Very much the ideology of CS using roots music. She is an awesome singer and that says it all. She sang it effortlessly.

Harshdeep was very excited I choose that song over the others as it was one of her favorites that she always wanted to do but never gets a chance to sing. You must realise that at this time there was no musical accompaniment except a drone of the tanpura.

So it got me thinking as to what i could do with this beautiful song keeping its culture in place & creating something absolutely new with it.
I am really proud to present Harshedeep Kaur singing Hoo.

  6) Vethalai – Featuring Chinnaponnu & Kailash Kher - Watch Video
Chinnaponnu and Kailash KherI had heard ‘Naka Muka’ which was a huge success down south. For a while
I didn’t connect her as the same singer who was featured on Sanjeev T’s
song Indian Jaadoo. Chinnaponnu arrived at my studio Red House typically
south! Shinny sari, flowers in her hair and a great smile. ‘Vanakkam’ (South
Indian namaste) was our first hello I got her to sing a few lines of Tamil folk.

You must realise that most Indians associate south indian music as Carnatic
classical but fail to realize that there also exists the local folk music which is
a far cry from the classical sound. This is exactly what I wanted to present in
this song! Also her husband was accompanying her and he is a Tavil player
(south Indian dhol) so I asked him to get his tavil for the shooting .. I decided
to pair her up with Kailash , as to me, both artists possess a rustic quality
of voice .. I decided to mix the local flavours of the north & the south into
one Street Beat Kailash had never heard or heard of her then, but when he
heard her sing (on the day of the shoot) he knew this song was going to be a
cracker! He quickly ran off to his make-up van and soon came back with some
awesome lyrics ready to jump head on into this funky mix of Street Beats. The
harmonic shifts behind the groove on electric piano are so subtle but make it
really interesting.

Interestingly on the day of the shoot, Chinnaponnu and her
husband missed the flight to Mumbai and so were delayed (which means I
had to juggle a few artists/tunes around so we didn’t hang around waiting for
her) To make matters worse, her husband forgot to get his Tavil !! Well, that
got sorted out and all of us had fun at the end of it with Sanjeev. T. being the
official translator!!

  7) O Majhi Re – Featuring Shaan & Saurav Mandal – Watch Video
Shaan A song that Shaan wondered on the onset ‘Do you really think I should sing
this song?’ Well, I thought so and so does everyone who hears this song I
really wanted to feature the ‘charm’ that Shaan has always had in his voice
but without the bollywoodish inflections that are present in all his movie
songs. It’s not a bad thing, but this is a not so flamboyant side of Shaan’s
voice Easy going yet silky smooth at times with an occasional burst of
energy.. I wanted to fuse the song with the original boatman’s song from
Bengal – ‘Bhatiyali’ which is a scale that is commonly used by boatmen in
their songs. When Victor ( who is an avid music enthusiast himself and so
has his ears open where ever he goes) came up with suggesting we use
Saurav Mandal.

I thought for a moment and said not only does this guy sound
good, he also has captivating look when he performs. I sat with him and
musically took him through the game plan of the song. He was really happy
he was singing alongside Shaan ‘Da’ ( ‘Da’ denoting an elder brotherly and
respectful way of addressing another in Bengali) I have always loved O Majhi
Re. Possibly because of some connection in my mind of ‘Bhatiyali’ so I took
this opportunity to bring in the sound of the soil element and infuse it with a
melodic Bass line and a melodic groove which Darshan uses not just the skins

on the drum kit but also the wood and metal parts of the drums

  8) Tu Maane Ya Na Maane – Featuring Wadali Brothers
Wadali Brothers Being a lover of Indian folk music over so many years I could not miss these
two giants of Punjabi Sufi who have been so prominent in the cultural music
scene! Besides being very popular, I also had a personal equation with them.

For my Tamil movie ‘Chikku Bukku’ along with Hari I had gone to Amritsar
to record them in Tamil!! Strange as it seems, but then, these have been some
of the musical journeys in my life .. So when they were on board I thought
that if I did something extremely alternate with them, they may get a bit
uncomfortable considering their age and that since this was their solo song,
I didn’t want to experiment too much.

Since the basic thought of Coke Studio
is to do contemporary music while preserving the culture, I thought who
better to do this with than the Wadali Bros.
Since this is such a beautiful
song I thought I’d down tempo it and make it float a bit so as to not have a
heavy beat. Now, they have never ever attempted to do it this way.. so.. they
tried, trusted me, trusted my musical instincts (considering I had done Tamil
with them was a big plus ) When it was done, they smiled and said that this
is the first time they have tried it like this and loved it! So it was a bit of an
experiment for them.. I got Darshan to play the drums with his bare hands so
as to get a different tonality from the drums. Navin on the other hand played
tabla in a more traditional manner so we don’t lose sight of the earthy feel.
My take on this song was to make you feel like you were in a gurudwara but
in a slightly more contemporary space. Same but different