Inner Self is the English word for Agam, which is also the name of a carnatic rock fusion band based our of Bengaluru. And ‘the inner self awakens’ is the name of the band’s first album.
A few years ago, when I was sitting at home on a sick leave day, browsing Facebook, a friend had shared Dhanashree Thillana. I clicked and listened to this new interpretation of Swati Tirunal’s composition – and ended up binge watching all of Agam/Harish’s footage on YouTube. Which is when I traced back to the same finalist of Season 1 of super singer whom I had supported.
I might not be this crazy fan who travels to wherever my favourite band performs, but I have listened to 3 of their concerts, live. One on a balcony seating in Egmore Museum theatre, one at the open air portico of Phoenix Mall; but my favourite was in a small pub in Bengaluru. I still remember what happened. A man who was standing right behind me and rolling a joint, was explaining this to this friend: “Did you know that Swans of Saraswathi is actually a Thyagaraja keerthana. Saint Thyagaraja is a Carnatic music composer of the 18th century; he has written hundreds of songs on Lord Rama”. And then he went ahead to talk more on the song. For a girl who is still getting out of the grasps of the orthodox/religious side of Carnatic music, this was a huge culture shock.
Agam has released solos, cover versions, songs featuring famous artists from Shreya Ghoshal to Aruna Sairam. Still, I love their original compositions better than their cover versions.
Malhar Jam – a fusion based on raga Malhar / Brindavana Saranga
Boat Song – malayalam boat song Paadhira Poo Venam
Lakshiya Padhai – is a Tamil composition that sounds like Jog / Nattai
The other amazing thing the band did was to make lay people go gaga over Carnatic music – yes, I said that. To see the crowd yell, go wild and sing along your favourite Dikshitar composition is a dream come true for me. Especially when the song is something as hardcore carnatic as Ranga Puravihara. I just hope that atleast now the count of those using the “this music is boring” phrase reduced a bit.
The band plays a fusion genre called Carnatic progressive rock. Here’s what Harish Sivaramakrishnan has to say about it…
P.S: Harish, I’m a huge fan of your work… huge fan <3