The independent music scene has been growing steadily in India, says New York-based Indian guitarist and composer Shubh Saran who describes his work as a “modern jazz sort of idiom”. The 28-year-old, who toured India recently with performances and workshops in Mumbai, Goa, Gurgaon and New Delhi to promote his latest album Becoming, said he received an “overwhelmingly” positive response from the independent music community in the country.
“The music scene in India and the Indian independent music scene have been growing. There are always pitfalls created by the economy, lack of venues and musicians but the indie music scene remains steadfastly in an upward direction,” Saran said.Being associated with the independent music scene in India has always been his “first true love”, he added.
While Indian classical music is an institution, parallel independent music in the country also needs nurturing as it breeds free thought and creativity within young people, Saran said. Becoming, Saran’s third album, is a confluence of modern jazz and his early musical influences. It is also about embracing one’s different identities.
“I compose in a modern jazz sort of idiom, but I decided to revisit the music I grew up with as a teenager… it was Blink-182, punk rock, Green Day, the kind of music you don’t associate with ‘serious music’,” Saran said. “I decided that instead of pushing that away, I should embrace it and create a record that sort of merged my early and later influences.
The theme is about who you are as a person, as a musician, and embracing the past that has led you to the present,” said Saran who grew up in India, Egypt, Switzerland and Canada before moving to the United States.He joined a liberal arts college in Toronto after graduating from high school and in 2010 landed at the Berklee College of Music, one of the most competitive colleges for contemporary music in the world.
Saran said the exposure to different places and cultures has given him a unique perspective on music and life. “I now seek out diversity and I seek out fusion. I gravitate towards music that is some kind of mixture and enjoy things that sort of fuse together four different things and find commonalities between various genre and styles,” he said.
Music began as a hobby in his teenage years. And then took a more serious turn when he went for an Indian Ocean concert. Saran remembers being “completely blown away” by the band’s music. “Everyone was taking them seriously. They were musicians and it was a real job and not a hobby.
That really changed my perspective on everything. People tell you music is a hobby, something extracurricular. But here were the middle-aged men who reminded me of my uncles. They were performing Indian fusion music for Indians who loved it. It really changed everything for me,” the musician recalled.