So do you want to make a Bombay Bassment? The recipe is pretty straightforward. Take an emcee from Kenya. Make sure he slams it every time he has a mike. Got it? Good. Now take a South Indian DJ. Make sure he infuses different genres of music with every mix. Got it? Awesome. Now take a Goan duo. Both need to be stellar musicians. Remember, drum and bass always go together. Got it? Now mix all these ingredients. Spice it up with some killer live performances. Sprinkle some reggae and hip hop. Glaze it with funk. Finally, add a heavy dose of drum and bass. Do you smell that? Good right? Well, it’s now ready for the Best Emerging Band of Jack Daniels Annual Rock Awards’11, Gold for Best Hip Hop group, Silver for best Hip Hop song and a bronze in Genre bending category at South Asian IndieGo Music Awards.
With Levin Mendes on drums, Ruell Barretto on bass, Robert Omulo aka Bobkat on the mike and DJ Chandrashekar Kunder aka Major C, that’s what you get. Bombay Bassment has left a mark on the independent music scene with its unique sound. There truly are few acts quite like Bombay Bassment. From the iconic songs ‘Hip-Hop [Never Be The Same]’ to my personal favourite ‘Midnight’, their self titled album, which they recorded with Ayan De, is filled with songs that’s going to make you dance. Attend one of their insane live shows, and I’ll bet you’ll be ‘Jumping’ and ‘Stomping’ your way back home.
We had a few questions for BB. Here’s what Lev had to say:
Q) You guys have one of the most unique sounds of all time. The Genre Bending award you won in South Asian IndieGo Music Awards is proof of this. It’s a really tough task to be true to oneself nowadays. How do you guys do it consistently?
It’s tough to be fake, takes a lot, we generally take the easy way out, so…
Q) The band’s name along with the track ‘Bombay Blues’ shows your love for the city that never sleeps. How has Bombay and it’s music scene affected your music?
I’m not entirely sure but to an extent the city has given each one of us something really really special, something that we’d always be indebted to and no matter how far we may go, we’ll always come back home after.
Q) One of the highlights of your band’s history was opening for Snoop Lion at Pune in 2013. Which other international hip hop acts you would want to see in India? According to you, is the Indian audience ready?
Jay Z is a spectacle to watch while Kendrick is hot right now. Maybe Drake would pull a crowd but the masses aren’t ready for a big, stadium size hip hop show right now. Not at least with the chart toppers at the moment.
Q) You guys have collaborated with a lot of artists. Apache Indian and Swarathma are a couple of them. What do you expect with each collaboration? Why is collaboration so important?
Collaborating actually means piggybacking on someone else’s success. You’ve already mentioned two renowned names in your question and I’m not going to say who asked whom to collaborate on who’s song 🙂
Q) The Indian audience consumes so much international hip hop music, but there seems to be no definite hip hop scene even though it has grown over the years. What do you think is the cause for this?
That’s cause the other scenes are clearly bigger than hip hop in the country and it’s easier to plug in a smaller scene into a bigger one. Apart from regular gigs, properties are built on genre basis. Entities own that space and try to build on that year on year. I’m sure in time there’d be enough hype for a hip hop music festival to arrive. We’ve just seen how the first time run-Reggae Sunsplash in Goa unfolded lately. Big things are happening sooner than ever.
Q) You all have other day jobs. Ruell, you’re a banker. Why is it still tough to be a full time musician in India? What do you think should change?
Surprised that you didn’t know Ruell quit being a banker back in 2013. But we must say that we loved him with his day job better than we do now.
Allow me to answer the other two questions too – It’s really tough to be a full time musician and you should read Ruell’s answer to that below.
Firstly we’re not mainstreamers, we’re indie boys in our 30’s and 40’s, who chose and still choose to not play mainstream or with mainstreamers just for one reason – let’s build our own scene first, before we build someone else’s. Let’s make our own songs popular, before we make someone else’s. And whoever said there is no money, I say there’s no such thing. Nothing happens on the first day. You’ve got to dig in and scoop you way and moolah out, one way or the other. My first job, a decade ago, paid me 10,000 INR for 30 days. Now I make that in 30 minutes, being indie. Any more questions?
Well being a full time musician in the scene is not an easy task, though I have to say it used to be tougher than it currently is. Impossible, definitely not. Apart from live gigs there are a few other options like sessions, music education, jingles etc that one could make a living with, in the music scene. I currently just love being a full time musician and can’t think of doing anything else (sorry Levin).
Q) You guys made the iconic ‘Hip-Hop [Never Be The Same]’ song video in under ten grand. You’ve won many accolades, played many shows and clearly left your mark on the scene. What advice would you give for any new upcoming independent musician, particularly in this genre since the audience is still new to it?
I think the time Bombay Bassment was born was a pretty cool time and everything we did came to the forefront, even the ‘almost freely’ shot music video. You must know that the learning here is to be very well aware of how the scene you are in functions, what are the key sources of reach available at your disposal and how well you are placed between all of that.
Q) What’s the future like for Bombay Bassment? Are you going to release new material any time soon?
Yes we are. A new single, soon. Then an album, later in the year. Also we’ve signed up with Mixtape, India’s premier Artist Management agency, starting 2016. So yeah, really looking forward to the year ahead.
Cheers to BB for having that interview with us! Do check out the links below. Also make sure to like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their YouTube channel to keep up with their latest updates.
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