Blending Folks And Blues

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Maatibaani, which consists of Hindustani vocalist Nirali Kartik and award-winning composer-music producer Kartik Shah, create sounds that are a mix of India’s rare folklore and classical music, with a blend of funk and blues. With global quarantine, the duo believe that music has and will always be a powerful force; but right now, people have more time to experience and appreciate it.

Together both Nirali and Kartik have collaborated with more than 200 musicians across 30 countries including Inner Mongolia, Israel, USA and many countries from Europe. Nirali’s Hindustani roots and Kartik’s nomadic vision has given the bands its distinct folk-pop sound. The core of their sound is rooted in Indian Classical and Indian Folk but their music speaks to a global audience, making them one of the most popular fusion acts from India with an enormous digital following.

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They had recently re-imagined an ancient chant, ‘Karpur Gauram’ found in Yajurveda, to offer hope and positivity to people amidst this daunting pandemic. An interview with them:

Q: Has the world realised the connective power of music and arts during the lockdown?

Maatibaani: Music has always been a powerful force but right now people have more time to experience it, I think. Because of the lockdown, a lot of musicians started to come online and got more creative in terms of collaborations. Musicians took over the internet as all they need is their voice/ instrument and an appreciative audience. All these things coming together has brought musicians in the forefront in this ongoing pandemic.

Q: For someone who has a glocal flavour to their music, how do you see this “globalisation under quarantine” – physical world closing but the online world opening up a new wave of connections?

Nirali: Maatibaani, mine and Kartik’s band together, has always been into global collaborations. Our first global collaboration with 11 artistes across 5 countries came out in 2012, and by now i.e. 2020, we have got expertise on how to work with musicians from different countries remotely.

Global collaborations are very addictive as you get to work with the finest and most passionate musicians across the world. We have worked with musicians whose language we don’t understand at all, yet we find a common language though our art.

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It’s just fascinating how beautiful it is to connect with strangers, work with them and come up with something substantial that people across cultures appreciate it.

‘Karpur Gauram’, the lockdown song/chant that we did is one such example of how global collaborations are being loved by audiences irrespective of different countries, languages etc. they maybe belong to.

Q: What have been your lockdown learnings?

Maatibaani: We have all realised what an enormous waste of time, energy and money it is to go for random meets.

Q: How do you see cross-border collaborations happening now?

Maatibaani: The Internet is a great medium to explore cross border collaborations. We have done a collaboration with some amazing musicians of Pakistan in 2014 called ‘Rang Rangiya’. When we created music with Pakistani artistes we have had amazing conversations and we found more similarities than differences with them. We tried to do a collab song with Chinese artistes at some point but they use completely different platforms than us – hence logistically it didn’t work out! But we would love to do that in future!

Global collaborations is music are being loved this time: Maatibaani. by .

Q: When do you expect the music world to make a recovery?

Maatibaani: Well, that’s a question every musician is thinking. It seems there won’t be any public gatherings allowed till November-December. So, probably only in 2021 and it is scary! Hence, it is nice for musicians to skill-up and starts using online platforms to perform and monetise the performances.

Q: What’s keeping you busy?

Maatibaani: Our upcoming song will be out soon! It’s an Indo-French track. There are a bunch of individual projects that we are doing as well.

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