The Great Indian Octoberfest, Bangalore's answer to the German beer carnival Oktoberfest, honors Indian Standard Time by taking place in November. Scheduling apart, it promises an extravaganza of entertainment. The festival has served as a platform for many artists and rock bands. In past years Indian Ocean, Thermal And A Quarter and Motherjane have performed. This year, the festival has an official anthem, "Come On Over", performed by Delhi band Eka (exclusive preview on Yahoo! India).
A R Rahman's anthem rescued the beleaguered Commonwealth Games last year, Bollywood's composer triumvirate Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy bowled over 2011 ICC World Cup fans in January. Daler Mehndi shook a leg (and both arms) for the Indian Grand Prix. An Art of Living volunteer penned a theme song for Anna Hazare's nation-stirring campaign.Theme songs are in. After
So why shouldn't a festival in praise of beer groove to an anthem of its own?
Eka's founding musicians formerly played with Delhi Indi-rockers Euphoria. Keyboardist Benjamine "Benny" Pinto and guitarist Hitesh "Rikki" Madan were part of the Palash Sen-fronted Hindi rock band before it achieved fame with the album Dhoom in 1998. Just out of high school, vocalist and bass player Lokesh Madan performed with Delhi rock band Canzona after which he took a decade-long hiatus spent fruitfully in climbing the corporate ladder.No strangers to surging crowds, two of
Eka, which describes its music as "Swatantra Rock", blends original songs sung in Hindi, English and Urdu with elements from "selected classic rock, Sufi and popular Hindi/ Bollywood/ Punjabi music." The band has performed at the Indo-Pak peace concert at the UN General Assembly Hall, New York; the Great Wall of China; and the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, USA.
Eka will perform at the Great Indian Octoberfest on November 12. In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! India ahead of their performance in Bangalore, the members of Eka shared their excitement and previewed the newly composed theme song, "Come On Over".
Interesting name, Eka. How does it describe you and your music?
“Eka” is a Sanskrit word that means unity, oneness or having one and the same purpose. While short-listing a name for our band we chose “Eka” as we felt that it truly brings out the very essence of a band as a team, as one unit. In musical terms, Eka means 'in unison' and for us it means connecting and being one (Eka) with our innermost selves, with those who create music and with those who appreciate it.
One reviewer recently described Eka as having “risen from the ashes of Euphoria”. Is that a fair comment on what to expect of your music? Or, is the comparison confining?
Our endeavor has always been to make good music and we continue to evolve as musicians. Whether Eka’s music is similar or different from Euphoria is really for the audience to decide. The fact is that Benny and Hitesh were an integral part of Euphoria for 18 years and 14 years respectively (much before Euphoria achieved commercial success with their first album Dhoom in 1998) and had contributed to all the Euphoria albums released till 2010. The formation of Eka was like a rebirth of their already very successful musical journey. This description of “rising from the ashes”, however, was an interpretation by the journalist. Nevertheless, Benny and Hitesh are proud of the music they jointly created in Euphoria along with the other members. As life moves on, one of the first songs that Eka composed, “Chalte Jaana”, best describes our situation when we started on this new musical journey together as Eka.
You call your music Swatantra Rock. Explain.
We found it very difficult and limiting to classify our music under any one particular style or genre. We coined the term Swatantra Rock and defined it as ‘Music beyond music, time and boundaries’. To us it means music which is born free, has a purpose, a feel of timelessness and music that knows no boundaries, geographical or that of the mind. With so many styles and forms and genres all across the world to get inspired from and even more to learn from, why put any boundaries on a medium that has the power to connect millions of people irrespective of language, religion, age or background.
Tell us how your song got selected as the official anthem of the TGIOF.
We performed at the finale of Bengaluru Habba earlier this year in January. During that trip, one of our friends insisted that we meet Vilas from CommonColors, the company behind TGIOF. Vilas and his team liked our music and we discussed about creating a song for the event... and the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s different about your music?
It’s difficult to say because every musician is unique in their own way. We believe our music is easy to sing along to, it’s about day-to-day things that impact us in our lives and its music with a purpose. When we’re making new music, we believe that the music flows through us and we’re just a medium, there’s a greater power at play when we make music; you can call it a spiritual connect or the hand of God working in our midst. Example, ‘Sayameva Jayate - voice for a better India’ was composed almost a year ago and we released it on August 10 only to find out that A R Rehman / SuperHeavy were also releasing a song titled ‘Satyameva Jayate’ on the very same day. We’ve had a fairly encouraging response where 'Satyameva Jayate', for example, crossed over 23,000 views in less than 60 days.
One of the things that we’re very happy about is that while we perform some of our songs live, a lot of people sing along even though it’s the first time they’re hearing the songs as most of them are yet to be released. This is very encouraging. Even the kids in the house know each song, word by word and note for note. This is probably our biggest achievement so far, being able to make kids as well as grownups sing along and enjoy our music.
Two of you played in a rock band back in college. What kind of music were you listening to then? Has that changed?
Lokesh and Hitesh co-founded Canzona upon completing high school. It was perhaps one of the youngest gigging bands during its time, performing at numerous concerts and wooing crowds across the country. So it was primarily Western Rock back then. Benny founded Black Slade about two decades ago and has had the privilege of performing with musicians such as KK, Annamika and many more. All three of us have grown up listening to various artistes, genres and styles of music and list has grown over the years. So what has definitely changed and evolved over the years is that we have learnt to appreciate and understand that every form and style of music has something unique to offer.
People perceive being in a rock band as an adolescent obsession that wears off with age, settling down and taking on “responsibility”. But you guys have left lucrative corporate careers to get back into making music and playing as a band. What changed your minds?
Today there are a plethora of opportunities available for the modern-day musician in the metros to make a career in music – be it as a performer, recording artiste, composer or a music educator. Things are improving now and taking up music as a fulltime career is coming up as a good career option. Most people in rock bands who’ve taken up a fulltime career in music take support of other activities in music other than just performing in a band till the time performing alone becomes a self-sustaining, lucrative option for the individual. Benny and Hitesh have always been professional musicians and lived that life.
The change, of course, has been for Lokesh and he feels that music as a career choice is not for the faint-hearted much like most creative fields as one has to create his or her own path. But if you have a dream and believe that you have it in you and are willing to give it your all, there’s nothing more beautiful than being able to make your own music and being able to perform for thousands of people. After all, you have only one life to live!
How easy or difficult has it been to make a living as a rock band? Where does the moolah come from – live performances or film scores? Do you have personal studios to rehearse in?
Moolah for us primarily comes from live performances. Like any other start up, the initial days are always challenging on the financial front. Eka started out about a little more than a year ago and all three of us are giving our 100 percent to Eka. We’re doing far better now than we were last year around the same time. We hope to be doing a lot better once more of our music is released in the near future. In addition to performing live, we are also doing a fair bit of music production work for various brands, events and television now. In addition to doing the official title track for The Great Indian OctoberFest 2011, Bangalore, we recently also did a completely original soundtrack for the Times of India Earth Care Awards and the title track for 'Aspire - The Music to Money Challenge' on Zee Business. We have a state-of-the-art studio in Delhi where all our music production work takes place.
Among your own songs, what are your personal favorites?
Benny: "Satyameva", "Chalte Jaana", "Jaane kyun I Love You", "Aye tum"… all our songs are my personal favorites … as I said, it’s all inspiration from the Lord Himself … hey you should also hear our Earth Care instrumental...
Hitesh: Each of songs fits in with a different mood. When I feel low, "Chalte Jaana" motivates me. "Jaane Kyuon, I love you" is the perfect song for a little bit of romance! The message of "Satyameva Jayate" is so relevant in the times we’re living in, "Hubba" is our song for celebration, etc.
Lokesh: I really enjoy making new music with Benny and Hitesh as each one of us are so different and have our own strengths and ideas. Each of the songs are special in their own way, my all time favorites are ‘Jaane Kyun I Love you’ – a romantic love ballad; ‘Chalte Jaana’ - a deeply meaningful and inspiring track, "Hubba" - a high-spirited celebration song, 'Aaye Tum' - a beautiful feelgood song, "Satyameva Jayate" - the first song that we released, The Earth Care Instrumental and Nimboo Paani - a fun song with a twist.
What can the audience expect of you at your gig in Bangalore on November 12?
Swatantra Rock it is! Bangalore has been very special for us in so many ways, so it would be a special Eka experience indeed for Namma Bengaluru!
To learn more about Eka, visit their website.