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Interview with Shri

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It had been a crazy few weeks leading up to our final show of the season this Friday, May6th 2011. Shri & JC001 had been travelling and Mayur had been having a very busy summer . As it turned out we only got a hold of Shri for the exclusive HA interview a couple of hours before show time.Shri is an  exceptional artist who credits DJ Badmarsh, Goldie and Magnetic Men for leading him down the path of dubstep, drums n bass. Shri is also thankful for the influences of his formative years in his father’s sitar playing, mother and sister’s carnatic violin, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Eberhard Weber, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, PannalalGhosh, Nikhil banerjee, Jethrotull- “the list goes on” he tell us. Most of all he’s a delight to interview and we were glad to get to chat to him even if only for a bit.

The Shri Bass

We asked Shri about his trademark self-fashioned fretless bass. Does it have a name?!!”Names .. well I call it the Shri bass, the other names it has been given is the cow, aztec,..then some! I guess the name does not really matter but it is just what it does.” So  how or even why did it come into being? “I had 3 reasons for making this bass – 1- I could not afford to buy a good bass, 2- I always liked making things and had made a couple of electric guitars before that 3- I wanted something that was unique to me and also an instrument that could really extend the possibilities of bass .. I bow it like a cello/sarangi, play percussion on it and also can create all kinds of textures which is not possible with a regular bass.” Shri glanced out by where the equipment was being set-up to see if they needed help.A wave of the hand to the sound guys and he returned with a smile “I found a piece of really good teak wood lying in the rubbish behind my building in Bombay and thought it would make a good bass.. dont know why I thought that but it just felt right. It was a matter of planning the shape, which had to be functional while being good looking . then carved it out, filed it, shaped it, made the carvings on the instrument with a Swiss-Army knife in San Fransisco, at a bus station at 5 in the morning! I finally finished it when I came back to Bombay .. all this was back in 1991. The basic bass took me a day to carve out and assemble but the carvings took a bit longer. Shri casts an appreciative glance at the bass. It’s sitting in it’s case close to him. What of modifications, we ask.”I have not made a single modification to it since the beginning. I was always scared that it would ruin the sound of it. only had to rplace the neck recently but nothing to the body. In fact it need a bit of work soon and some TLC. Finally, we ask him, any favourite tracks played on the Shri bass? “I use this instrument on almost every track I’ve done .. bowed it on tracks like Lament and 130 Steps with Badmarsh &Shri, and also on various tracks on my solo stuff.

Shri & Theater

Over the years Shri has played a vital role in a large number of theatrical productions. All original compositions too! Any favourites? “I’ve done quite a few theatre productions and each one had its own charm really.” Pausing for the briefest moment, he goes on.”I always work and have been lucky to be involved in projects where I like the people and also they do not really interfere with the composition process. one great one was Coming of Age at the Southbank Centre in London.It involved 10 dancers from various Indian disciplines using the entire Southbank as a stage. It was seriously challenging to write music that suited various styles that performed simultaneously sometimes .. and the music was played through 35 speakers around the venue and about 6000 people attended each night for two nights. That felt good !!!”

Working with JC001

When sitting down with JC001 he told us that his association with Shri had been over the last 15 years. So what was Shri’s take on shows with JC. “He’s a seriously talented and prolific artist with great taste and a lot of fun to be with. JC-001 is great to perform with. We have worked together extensively in different situations. We understand each others vocabulary well and can react by pre-empting what the other is going to do. I really enjoy working with him.”

Bandish Projekt & Show plans.

Though this Friday’s show was a first time collabortion for JC & Mayur of the Bandish Projekt. Shri has worked with both artists before. We asked him about his equation with Mayur. “We had a jam in London recently where both his band and mine were performing. I joined him onstage. I think he is one of the more creative and interesting Dj/composer to come out of this country.” So what did they have planned for the show we asked him even as the equipment was being set-up and the sound guys taking over the space. “We have quite a few ideas. In a situation like this we tend to work with shapes and dynamics. These tend to sound like proper tracks while we are improvising them on stage. I try to have an overall view of the concert shape to try and make sure int does not get boring at any stage. There will be exciting moments to look forward to – and I am certainly looking forward to them.

Shri’s Summer 2011

“I’m Working with DJ Badmarsh again and have almost completed a new Badmarsh&Shri album. So that is in the offing.First plan is to get the music right and I am sure there be gigs popping up soon. But possibly another collaborative gig with the great U.Shrinivas this December in Bombay!!” It’s time for the artists to join the sound crew at ICE Bangalore.So we wrap up very satisfied with our interview.

Last evening was truly the best show we could’ve asked for to end the Hennessy Artistry Summer 2011. How did you like the show? Leave us a note or a comment on your favourite part! Photos and videos from the show coming soon. So stay tuned!