Cosmic energy

Alisha Shinde
Monday, 13 August 2018

Catching up with Urja band members, on the eve of their performance in the city

What makes a band stand out from another, apart from the genres they play, is the energy that they reflect through their performance. And Urja, true to its name, has loads of it, Chintan Katti, its founder, points out. 

Katti, who himself is a talented sitarist, says that the band comes up with compositions based on certain raags and scales which are played through sitar with keyboard (by Dharmesh Maru), bass guitar (Hansel Dias), drums percussion (Jigar Shah) and tabla (Rupak Dhamankar).

The band, which plays a melange of Indian and Western tunes was formed when Katti thought of coming together with friends, who share similar mindsets and tastes in music to jam. “The idea of forming a band clicked immediately and we went ahead,” he says adding that all the members of the band have been friends for a very long time and some have even studied together at school.

Dhamankar emphasises that the journey of the band is such that though they grew as friends and became band members, the essence of their friendship was never lost. “We all are together for a reason — our love for music and for creating something which is out of the box.” He says that when bands are formed, they have a certain sound to them which becomes monotonous in the long run. But the tuning of their band is such that they are forever on the lookout of a new sound because of which, they simply do not stick to one genre but indulge in them all.  

Dhamankar observes that the band is a safe space for all of them to learn and grow together. “We all play the role of a teacher and that of a student where we constantly exchange feedback and discuss how we can outshine our previous performance,” he says when asked about the kind of relationship that the band members share with each other. 

Apart from being band members of Urja, the musicians have the liberty of performing as freelance artists because of which there is more room for them to improve as performers. 

“We don’t want to stick to any single genre and most importantly, want to explore the depths of fusion and see its scope which is extremely branched out,” Katti says adding that the songs that they compose just never sound alike. “If one song has a Middle Eastern feel to it, another will have a rhythm and tune influenced by South Indian music. The point is that we want to, and love to, create music which is different.”

Talking about the type of music that they play, Katti says, “We don’t play authentic raags but our songs are based on them. We usually play along the feel and the mood of the original raags while striving to create something that is unique.” 

What keeps them going and encourages them to put up a performance better is the energy of the crowd which indirectly has an effect on their level of energy too. “That is in fact one of the reasons why we decided to name the band ‘Urja’ — which means energy,” he points out. 

“We absolutely love it when we keep getting positive feedback from audience who are just enjoying themselves and having fun but for us, it means a lot, it means encouragement to better ourselves for them,” says Katti. 

He adds that today’s youngsters are compelled to like new and fun music and they usually don’t stick to just one genre and are open to a lot of options and choices.   

Talking about surviving in a space where there is an influx of fusion bands, Katti says that they themselves love listening to other bands perform because they believe that encouragement is needed and that they too need to learn more from their competition. Talking about the future plans, Katti says that they are in the process of releasing an album towards the end of September.

Urja will perform at Osho International Meditation Resort, Lane 1, Koregaon Park, on August 15  from 2.30- 3.30 pm 

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