Sridhar: Stepping Stones
Here’s presenting an exclusive interview with Chennai-born, Singapore-based guitarist Sridharan Ravichandran, more popularly known as Sridhar. His debut instrumental album ‘Transcend’ (released in 2009) has been very well-received in India. We spoke to him about the album, as well as his metal side-project Melakartha.
For the uninitiated: What is Melakartha?
Melakartha is my ambient/metal side-project, or simply a collection of ideas that could not find a home in my other projects. It’s relentless and about as far as you can go from the mainstream (laughs). I am yet to find a full-fledged band who can do full justice to Melakartha, and considering my other commitments, it’s been even harder to start the search for musicians. But I will, soon, and hope to start playing shows as soon as possible, before I become an old fart. Long way to go, but still (smiles).
Could you tell us a little more about Melakartha’s music?
Most tracks are a collection of musical ideas put together in a format that sounds musically emotive to me, and conveys something about something I feel very strongly about. I feel absolutely at home with layers, ambiences, heaviness, and I love experimenting with crazy musical ideas. A typical Melakartha track is a melting pot for all those ideas. Sometimes, I’m surprised at the stuff that comes out — it can be happy, moody, dark-as-hell, etc. — who knows? A lot of how the track turns out depends on how I’m feeling when I’m writing [music].
Which has been the most chellenging Melakartha track to put together?
It has got to be my latest track “Inner World” (listen) — it has nearly 50 different tracks and layers that combine to form what it is.
Your favourite track so far would be..?
Tricky! I guess it would be “Time Machine” because it’s the most fun to play.
Who are the other musicians working with you?
Melakartha is just me, my drum machine and my computer, as has been all my other original material. Ram Vaidyanathan (ex-Oritus/Alter Ego) contributed bass guitars for my first album ‘Transcend’, and Prasanna wrote the fabulous piano parts for the “Blue Memories” track on ‘Transcend’.
How is Melakartha’s sound different from the tracks on your debut album ‘Transcend’?
Compared to Melakartha, ‘Transcend’ was a lot less experimental. ‘Transcend’ was more like a photograph of a particular stage of evolution of myself as an artist. I was procrastinating and pushing forward the launch of the album as much as possible, thinking I’d be a better guitar player every forthcoming day, but one day I thought, “Hell, this is how I can play right now, and I want to document it”. Funnily enough, I don’t think of myself as a ‘guitarist’ at all — I’m just a kid trying to make a statement, an ‘artist’, if you please.
How have listeners received ‘Transcend’ so far?
Funnily enough, I don’t think of myself as a ‘guitarist’ at all — I’m just a kid trying to make a statement, an ‘artist’, if you please.
[The response] has been positively overwhelming — apart from creating a lot of buzz, and selling copies in places like Greece, Egypt, and even Norway, I received a lot of genuine, heartfelt feedback from people and other musicians, which really inspired me. After a while, I put up ‘Transcend’ as a free download.
For the people who haven’t heard ‘Transcend’ yet, could you tell them something about the album?
It’s simple and honest music – go check it out! (Free download here.)
The ‘Transcend’ album download was associated with a charitable cause. Can you fill us in about that?
I put the album on gimmesound.com and I decided to donate the proceeds of the free downloads to the American Cancer Society. The funds generated from the first wave of downloads were all sent there, along with choosing them as the ‘charitable cause’ inside gimmesound. Sure, I’ve received some criticism for the choice of the organisation — but hey, everyone, irrespective of caste/colour/nationality needs help. I chose the organisation because there were no middle men involved and the process of donating to them was straightforward.
Any album release slated down the line for Melakartha?
Absolutely. I’m aiming for the end of the year, and still ironing out the details and looking for promoters/labels. When it comes, you will hear about it!
Do you plan to perform in India anytime soon?
I’d love to. Right now, I’m quite busy with a lot of commitments here [in Singapore], but I definitely want to take an extended break to play a dozen shows there. Nothing beats the feeling of playing at home.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your fans back here?
I love you all! Thanks so much for the support. It makes my day everytime I read about how my music moved somebody!
Listen to “Inner World” at this location.