Indie folk band Indian Ocean jams with African musicians

Updated: Jun 06, 2012, 14:24 PM IST

New Delhi: Indie-folk band Indian Ocean, which found its way into the global rock arena over two decades ago and has collaborations with musicians from countries such as Pakistan, is open to experimenting further with varied music genres like those from Africa.

"I think this is the first time we are ever playing with African artists in India. We have done that in Africa which was fantastic...Would love to go back there whenever given a chance," vocalist and guitarist of the band Susmit Sen told reporters before a recent gig here to celebrate `World Africa Day`.

The band improvised and set the mood with its popular number "Kandisa" in which vocalist Rahul Ram modified to "hille le jhakjhor re Afrikaa" throwing in a rap "am a winner/ am a champion."

As part of IndiAfrica: A Shared Future, an initiative supported by the Public Diplomacy division of the Ministry of External Affairs and managed by a design and strategy firm theIdeaWorks, Indian Ocean revisited its popular songs including 'Melancholic Ecstasy', 'Jhini', 'Des Mera' and 'Bandeh'.

Calling the initiative a "gesture", the globally renowned band teamed up with boys as young as 12 belonging to a hip-hop collective "Slumgods" and Nigerian group "Amazing Talent" to deliver a mix of African and Indian folk numbers.

While "Slumgods" features Bboys (breakdancers), rappers, graffiti artists and Djs, African bands like "Amazing Talent" comprises African students pursuing their studies in India.

"We never thought we will perform on World Africa Day in India. Jamming with Indian Ocean band is is fantastic", says Anderson Emmanuel,a band member.

Another member, Ajay Singh, an Indian described bonding with Africans as an amazing experience.

"It`s amazing. Just like brothers... It feels like a family now," he says.

Two other groups - a dance troupe from Somalia called `Horn of Africa` and a band from Congo called `Rio Des Djikas` were also part of the performance at the event that was touted as aiming to recognise shared sensibilities,histories and intertwined cultures between India and Africa through the youth, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Amit Shahi, Programme Director of IndiAfrica says roping in an established band - like the Indian Ocean helped getting attention to World Africa Day.

The band `Indian Ocean` itself however does not want the music it churns out to be labelled. Some music critics have termed it "Indo-rock fusion with jazz-spiced rhythms that integrates shlokas, sufism, environmentalism, mythology and revolution."

"We don`t call ourselves fusion... We do music for the love of music," says Susmit Sen.

Meanwhile, after their latest album 16/330 Khajoor road, titled after their rehearsal space in Delhi, the band is now planning to release by August a new single with 'Strings', a band from Pakistan with whom they have collaborated earlier too.