“The dream is that history of Indian bands would be incomplete without Indo Gypsies” – An Interview
If you are someone who likes folk and fusion music, you are definitely aware of this six-member band, which presents Saurabh Shetye on the vocals, Nayan Kawale on guitars (also the founding member of the band), Durgesh Khot on keyboards, Amit Mhatre and Vinayak Gawas on percussions, and Aditya Jain as the bassist. These are six people with different personalities (suggested by their bio, which you can read here) which is probably a reflection of the blissful blend of various styles which they incorporate into their music.
In recent times, they have been attempting to enter the international music leaderboard. They have been aired on various national as well as international radio stations. After releasing their very successful eponymous EP, they went on to release a video for their track ‘Soldier’s Love’, an ode to the Indian soldiers. They have been featured on the MTV Indies as well as on the show Beat Street. Their music, besides having different styles of music, also has inspirational themes revolving around hopes, dreams and the journey of life.
How did you guys get together? Who thought of getting the band members together?
In 2007, Nayan being in engineering college, with a passion for music, had a concept of forming a band.
However, he soon realized finding the members with his shared vision would not be as easy as it seemed. He struggled for four years doing this, but in vain. Then, in 2010, Nayan met Durgesh at their college fest. Durgesh agreed with Nayan’s musical thoughts and decided to join in for jamming. This group eventually drifted apart, but Durgesh and Nayan were still firm on their vision to form a band.
They then found Mahant (ex-Bassist), a guitarist as well as a college-mate, and the three of them started playing as an instrumental band. Having gelled pretty well, they performed for an inter-collegiate fest as the ‘Farol Trio’.
Now the band was in search for a vocalist. Nayan had previously approached Saurabh for the band, as they both used to perform together for whatever platforms they could find from 2005-07. But he had refused Nayan then because of his Final Year in IT Engineering.
However, after his Engineering was completed, Saurabh decided that he wanted to work towards his passion for music. Remembering the call from Nayan, he got back to him and enquired about the band’s progress. The band called him for a jam, and Saurabh joined in as a vocalist.
As the members grew, the band was initially 8-piece. However, over the course of time, the band had a major change in lineup, reducing to six members, with Saurabh on Vocals, Nayan on Guitars, Durgesh on Keyboards, Amit on Drums, Vinayak on Tabla, and Aditya on Bass.
What is the story behind the name of the band? Who thought of it, and why ‘Indo Gypsies’?
The name ‘Indo Gypsies’ was born in Nayan’s head (a Goddess appeared in his dreams and suggested this name, at least that what he says) during his first venture. By the fear of being cursed, other members approved the name (laughs).
Our music and attires on stage being firmly rooted in the Indian culture gives us the ‘Indo’ part. As for the ‘Gypsies’ side, everyone knows that gypsies are eternal travellers, treating the whole world as their home. Similarly, everyone from the band has an inclination towards a variety of genres, bringing a ‘World’ influence in their music. Our passion to experiment with these exuberant melodies and rhythms led to the creation of the band, and hence, the name ‘Indo Gypsies’.
What/Who is your inspiration?
A desire to speak about the social issues that we see in the world every day, and about the philosophies of love, freedom, passion, brotherhood is the main inspiration behind starting the band.
Who are your influences?
Each one of us has a wide variety of influences, partly responsible for the ‘World’ness in our music. As a band, our commonly liked bands include Indian Ocean, The Raghu Dixit Project, Santana, Euphoria, Remember Shakti among others.
We really appreciate the fact that you are playing the Indian music and popularising it in the world as a whole. What got you into playing this kind of music? Why folk music exactly?
The beauty and richness of traditional Indian folk music and its ability to connect with everyone is the reason we chose to play Folk music. We also have a vision of spreading this heritage of ours to all corners of the world. Hence, Folk.
Has there been a lot of struggle?
We think the struggle is an endless part of an artist’s life. Struggle to reach the peak, and then struggle to sustain there. We like to think of it more as a journey, and we’re enjoying our time in the sun.
Congratulations on your video getting featured on MTV Indies. What was the experience like?
Thanks for the wishes! Waking up at 2 am to leave for the shoot, managing all the resources and putting the crew together was a one-of-a-kind experience for us. Also, we had added challenges of a reshoot due to unfavourable weather, as well as taking care of transport to the isolated village of Chon Gaon in Badlapur, a place without any cellphone networks and uncertain electricity, which made the whole experience even more memorable. Our song “Soldier’s Love” is based on a conversation between a soldier and his wife through the letters. To see this concept coming out so nicely in the video was very gratifying.
The video was truly very moving. How do you think your fan-base and the response towards your music has changed after MTV Indies?
It has been one of the biggest things that have happened to the band till now. The response to our video was overwhelming, and we have loved the down pouring of fans after it. MTV Indies is one of the largest media platforms for Independent Artists in India and it’s great to be featured on it.
What do you think is more important- commercial success, or a cult fandom which enjoys your music?
We think a cult fandom is a preliminary step to achieve commercial success (laughs). Commercial success is, of course, important looking at the long-term stability and survival of the band. However, a cult following is what every band dreams of. So, both are equally important for us.
Being such successful artists yourselves, what are your views about mainstream music and the music industry in our country?
Bollywood is effectively mainstream music, and it’s currently on the peak in our country and has been for a long time. Other than a few exceptions, most of the current mainstream music has become redundant. People are now fed up with this and want something fresh in their playlists. So we think Independent music is on the verge of taking over the scene. Let’s hope for the best!
Talking about the future, what is your eventual goal as a band?
After releasing the music video, the band’s next aim is to release an album. Speaking about our ultimate dream..”Whenever in the future, history will be written on the Indian Band scene, it would be incomplete without the name of ‘Indo Gypsies’. ”
We sincerely hope that Indo Gypsies gain all the success that they deserve and keep doing the kindness of letting the world know about Indian music. We wish them luck for their new album, hope it creates history.