Photo Credit : Srijan Mahajan.
Donn Bhat is a gem in our Indian indie music circuit. His distinctive sound is synonymous with an eargasmic blend of electronica, folk, rock & DnB. His unique brand of music is predominantly electronic, heavily dabbed with several live elements. Last year he dropped his third album ‘Connected’ which garnered a lot of attention everywhere and was considered to be one of the best albums of 2016!
Having played guitar in bands like Friday The 13th and Orange Street, he started his solo career as a studio project and then took it live to form ‘Donn Bhat + The Passenger Revelator’. His previous two projects ‘One Way Circle’ & ‘Passenger Revelator’ galvanized his position as one of the most interesting and genre-defying acts of our countries.
Donn is also one of the few Indian acts who performed at the prestigious music festival, Glastonbury. His music video for the very groovy track ‘Disco Disco’ was selected in the SXSW Festival. He frequently dabbles in music production for films and advertisements.
‘Connected’ is a piece of art. This musical journey beautifully flows from soulful tracks like ‘The Beer Was Over’ and ‘XXL’ to darker psychedelic tracks like ‘Desh Bhakti’. It plays around with a variety of themes like social media taking over our lives, false national patriots and more. All in all, it’s neatly packed into a 7 track masterpiece oozing with an eclectic mix of different genres. Donn Bhat is a veteran musician with a laser sharp precision of taste, creativity and passion.
We got a chance to speak with the man himself about ‘Connected’, his thoughts on the scene and future plans. Here’s how it went:
Q) Tell us about the great album art. Was the overall album theme pre-thought or did it develop as the songs came along?
Sonali Zohra also known as Dangercat did the art work. I found some of her work online and really liked it. So I mailed her,sent her the songs and we approached it pretty organically after that. She spent some time listening and soaking in the songs.We discussed what some of the themes on the album were and then she just took off with it.
Q) Having a background of doing music for films and advertisements, how do you think the visual medium affects your music? Do any other art forms inspire you?
Of course. Its very interesting to juxtapose visuals on music and see where it takes it. I have been getting into some editing softwares and downloading seemingly unrelated old abandoned content and making a visual set out of that,that runs through our performances. It’s still a work in progress but a lot of fun to do. The last one we did is a new song called “marching” which has a lot of footage of the North Korean army which seems to fit perfectly on it!
We will be playing with it at SULA fest this year.
Q) Is it tough transitioning your brand of music live? What are some of your best and worst memories of a live show?
Well as an electronic set up, I think the worst memory for anyone will be technical glitches or the laptop just having a bad day! I can remember a couple over the last 3-4 years where it just crashed on me! That’s quite a bummer because you really can’t do much about it except restart and well, that can’t be that exciting!
Best would be every time you can connect well with an audience and get them to really listen.
And yes, its always work in progress to transition this music live. But I think it’s getting there.
Q) Are there some things that still make you nervous or insecure as a musician and an overall creative entity?
Well, yeah I think as a creative pursuit there always remains that insecurity of what if that was the last song/idea/film/writing I make or believe in. What if this is it and you’ll never have another one after.
I guess it’s good to feel that in a way; or at least be aware of it, because it’s easy to stop working on your craft and get comfortable with even a tiny bit of acceptance and fall into some kind of easy mediocrity.
I guess one never knows until one starts doing rather than just thinking about it.
Q) Since some themes revolve around the internet ‘connecting’ people, what’s your take on its influence on the music industry and particularly the Indian indie scene?
The internet is the best thing that has happened to the indie music scene. I think it’s great!
Q) How is the songwriting process different as an individual artist as opposed to a collaboration? Is there a one you prefer?
I like making songs. What ever that needs I’m game. It’s not really deciding if this is a collaboration or a solo thing so there is nothing fixed like that.
Of course with Passenger Revelator we have Toymob and Anand who I know will be taking the songs somewhere else when we work on it further.
Q) Having been in the scene for a long time, what’s your take on its current status? Are there any fresh acts you would love to have as your ‘passengers’ for any future projects?
I think things are going great in our scene considering what it was like a decade ago. Originality is getting its long overdue respect and some kind of platform is around for original music to be heard on festivals etc.
But as a model which can let non commercial bands/artists really thrive and build a body of work and really do this over a long period of time, especially if you choose a language like English, I don’t know if that’s going to happen anytime soon unless the bands/artists find ways to supplement their situation. It seems that there are a lot of people waiting to sell the next new thing/fad but only a handful who are genuinely interested in taking the scene forward.
Q) With ‘Connected’ doing so great, what does 2017 hold for Donn Bhat + The Passenger Revelator?
We’re going to be recording some new music and releasing singles over the next few months. Cheers!
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