Interview with Mahesh Raghvan, Shravan Sridhar and Mt Aditya

 

The Aurora of Quark woke up, not with a prince’s kiss, but with a hint of Carnatic masked in a veil of
modern music. DoJMA caught up with Mahesh Raghvan, Shravan Sridhar and MT Aditya Srinivasan,
the headlining artists for the first Aurora night of Quark’19.

DoJMA: It’s a pleasure to interview you, especially after the phenomenal gig of yours. We have a
few questions. All of you have been part of Marghazi reloaded. What was your inspiration behind
it and how did the dynamics in this collaboration work out?
Mahesh: Marghazi reloaded is a very special project. Our main aim is to promote Carnatic music, the
music of South India, to a wider audience and we thought, it will be relatable to a lot more people
through the fusion and more people will be inclined to listen to pure Carnatic music.

DoJMA: What are your favourite tracks from the five episodes that have come out?
Shravan: For me, definitely, it has to be Episode 1: Panthuvarali.
Mahesh: The next one (Episode 6). Aditya did a great job mixing all of them, so his answer must be
the most interesting.
Aditya: I kind of like all of them, but my favourite one is yet to come. We can’t wait to share it with
all of you.

DoJMA: Mahesh Sir, you have an M.Sc. in Digital Composition and Performance. This is a very
unconventional degree. We haven’t heard of something like this. What was the motivation behind
this?
Mahesh: I wanted to learn more about music technology as I wanted to take up music full time. It
was super intensive and allowed me to create tools that I want to make music with.

DoJMA: How did it shape the way you think about music? There’s definitely a before and an after
right?
Mahesh: Studying abroad changes a lot for you. This course gave me a new perspective on how
to approach music because before I would look at the tools and see – What is possible? But now I
think – I have this idea, now, what tools can I make and incorporate into my work to shape this idea.

DoJMA: Aditya Sir, Could you tell us how your journey with music started. How it all began?
Aditya: You know, I say this a lot and I am pretty proud of this fact. In South Indian households,
getting your kids into some sort of art be it music, dance is part of the culture. I hope this stays in
the generations to come. It started off that way and then I fell in love with the table. So that’s how it all
began.

DoJMA: Shravan Sir, you have performed with Anand Bhaskar Collective at our college and with
the Carnatic 2.0 troupe. How did you meet both parties? Moreover, they are of two very different
genres. How do you juggle between the two?
Shravan: I think all of this stems from the fact that I have been trained in Carnatic music and the
initial few years of my training were very strictly Carnatic oriented. And once I went to college, that’s
when the entire exposure to all the other extremely different forms of music happened and the first
genre I encountered was metal. I am a huge metalhead and because I sort of encountered all of
these different styles of music, I think what tends to happen is that each of these genres touch and
impact different emotions that I want to portray with music. I want to say something different with
metal, say something different with country or blues or any other genre that reflects my mind.

DoJMA: The Thayir Sadam project for children has proved to be a massive hit. How did you bring it
up, considering a lot of parents overlook the importance of music/co-curricular activities in their
children’s lives?
Mahesh: So, it’s a proven fact that music education for kids really gives a positive impact on their
mental health and it also helps them study better. We all know the positive impact for children, and
hence we thought – what if we go to government schools, other schools where music is not so
accessible and make them have a good time, make them interested in music. We think that it will
inspire a young musician someday, who will remember the experience we gave them. We want to
make music accessible to everybody, that’s what we do.

DoJMA: Shravan Sir, the Non-Violinist Project seems to be the shiniest gallantry star on your
uniform. Please tell us your motivation behind its inception and your vision for it.
Shravan: The violin is perceived either in the purely Carnatic/Classical Western context or in a
melancholic, emotional way. I am not trying to break those stereotypes or anything, but all the
different genres appeal to me and I keep thinking about how the violin would apply to them. That’s
what the band is all about. It’s just an outlet for all these creative ideas that I have. I have been
super- fortunate to find a bunch of kick-ass musicians. Each of them comes from a completely
different musical background. So that’s the meeting point for different ideas.

DoJMA: Aditya Sir you have worked with famous directors like Gautam Vasudev Menon. Has
composing for film been on your agenda? In fact, we would like to extend this question to all of
you.
Aditya: If anyone said that they wouldn’t be interested in composing for a film being in the music
industry, I don’t think that would be true. I don’t think I am quite ready for it yet. I have had the
fortune of working with some phenomenal music directors and visionary directors like Gautam
Vasudev Menon, who has this amazing perception not just about what works, but also about music
in context, which was a great learning experience. I think I want to learn some more before
venturing out on my own.
Shravan: I have actually composed for ads, short films. So, I have dabbled in that side.

DoJMA: But the interest seems to be alive form your own side, noting that your Rahman Medley
has reached over 8000 views on YouTube.
Shravan: Composing for films is a whole different ball game altogether. We love performing live, and
I feel there’s a kick when you see your audience embrace your music in front of you. Aditya is a
sound engineer and he knows how it’s like to be locked up 18 hours a day in the studio.
DoJMA: That’s both of you, right? Both of you are engineers turned musicians.
Aditya: So, I am a sound engineer. In fact, Marghazhi Reloaded was recorded at my studio in
Chennai. I mean, the studio life is very different. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of long hours, a lot of
needing to find constant sources of inspiration. But somehow, the energy of live is great.
DoJMA: Mahesh Sir, please share your experience of being the creative director of IndianRaga?
Mahesh: I have been associated with IndianRaga for two years. They approached me for being the
creative director of their Boston Fellowship back in 2016. Ever since then, we have been producing.
The people that apply for the fellowship programme are really talented and I get to learn a lot from
them. It’s a largely symbiotic relationship, where we give and take. We get to create a lot of content
that has the capacity to go viral. For example, ‘The Shape Of You’ performance was one of their biggest
hits.

This interview gave us all a sneak peek into the world of fusion music and YouTube-born, YouTube-
raised artistes. It gives us a glimpse of how our rich musical heritage is rolling with time and shows us
hope of a promising future of Classical music.