August 2006

An Interview with Indian Ocean
by Tony Shivpershad
Three of the four members of Indian Ocean took the time out of their hectic schedule to answer some questions for The Live Music Report. On August 16, 2006 I had the pleasure of speaking with Rahul, Amit, and Asheem over the phone from Philadelphia. Unfortunately, band founder Susmit had another commitment.

Indian Ocean will perform at the Meadowvale Theatre in Mississauga on September 1st, 2006.

The Live Music Report How was the show last night? (Philadelphia)

Indian Ocean We played here before in October in the same venue.

LMR So then, is this your third or fourth US tour?

IO Fourth, we toured first in 2002, when we came to the Smithsonian for the Folklife Festival.

LMR Do you find that your shows in the US are different from your shows in India?

IO Yes, of course, everything is different, except we are all human beings…sometimes here we get a quieter audience, so in fact we can play some of our more contemplative songs here. In India it’s a mess. There’s 10,000 people there, everybody is screaming and shouting. Here we get a chance to be more reflective sometimes — so it’s fun.

LMR How do you enjoy working on movie soundtracks?

IO We are working on one right now, which is a film called Shoonya.

LMR Your previous album was the soundtrack to the movie Black Friday, that film had quite a political stance.

IO It’s like a political thriller I’d say. It’s based on the bomb blasts that took place in Bombay in 1993. It’s about the guys that carried them out and how the police tried to crack the case.

LMR How closely did you work with the producers of the movie?

IO Quite a lot. They came to us when they were half way through the shoot and then talked about the film, and we agreed to do it and they kept sending us rough edits. We sat down with the director and went through the rough edits — discussed about the music. So we watched the film really closely, and we became pretty friendly with the director and the producer.

LMR So it’s not your typical Bollywood film?

IO No, no. You know, given the kind of music Indian Ocean plays, the guys that come to us for music are much more likely to be more funky, more off-beat people who do not want to be part of that mainstream.

LMR How is the process different when you are working on a movie soundtrack compared to doing your own album?

IO Yes, it’s good fun, because it gets us to do something that we generally don’t do every time when we are making music for our own album.

When we do music for a film there is always a director who will tell us a loose direction in which to walk. When we do our own albums there is nobody telling us anything so we are free to do whatever we feel like, but when it comes to film, yes, somebody does tell us loosely the feel of the composition — I want you guys to make it let’s say this way or that way.

LMR Was it hard for four individual people to come up with this one fantastic unique sound?

IO Yes it was hard. Not only are there four different people, but there are four people with extremely different views on everything, but when we got that little sound which we got we realized that the sound is unique and interesting and it’s better to stick with it and carry on.

LMR I really like the name of the band. How was it selected?

IO When the band was first formed around 1990 there was a brainstorming session to find a name for the band, and various people came up with various names, nothing was really good. And suddenly Susmit’s father, who was also sitting in and probably having his lunch somewhere in the corner, said “How about Indian Ocean?”, very softly, not having much confidence in his suggestion, but everybody heard it and they loved it and they said “YES! That’s the name.”

LMR Yes, it’s a nice play on words.

IO Yeah, it is, it is…You know we could make up stories about this, but I think the true story is the best.

LMR What can we expect from your Toronto show?

IO This is going to be our first ever concert in Canada, so I think, that to us is quite exciting. By the time we reach Canada we will have already played almost 40 shows in the US over the last few years, so it’s interesting that we haven’t even been to Canada once.

LMR Will you get a chance to do any sightseeing in Canada?

IO Unfortunately no, we’re playing on the first and flying out on the second, because we have concerts back in India.

LMR Your music spans so many genres: rock, jazz, folk, and Indian, if you had to pick a name for your unique sound what would you call it?

IO We were just sitting and having a conversation with our friend, whose house we’re staying at right now, and talking about the name and we unfortunately don’t have a name. People have been fooling around with different names, in fact somebody had just come up with the name which is “sochmat”, which means “don’t think”.

LMR What do you want our readers to know about Indian Ocean?

IO We love playing live, you know that’s where the band actually comes into it’s own. That is something that we have really been concentrating a lot on in the last few years. We did about 100 concerts in about 16 months all over the world. Yes, it gets a little bit exhausting, but we really enjoy this.

LMR All that touring explains why there’s always a few years gap between each album.

IO Our first album came out in 93, then it was 97 and 2003, 2005 was Black Friday. I’m hoping that by 2007 we’ll get another one out. We’re working. We’ve got about eight new compositions that we’re working on and we’ll be playing at least one of them, hopefully two, in Toronto. Stuff that’s not released and not available.

The other thing that I do want to say is that all of our existing music is now available on iTunes.

LMR iTunes has become an important method of music distribution now.

IO We’re bringing a whole bunch of CDs, but for those people who just want one song it’s all available on iTunes. They’ve classified us as World music on iTunes, because we don’t have a name (for their genre of music) so we’re number 7 on the world music chart on iTunes.

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