Of music, energy and connection
The American musician?s daytime job brings him to India twice a year and very often to this city. After a few trips from San Francisco to Calcutta, he decided to explore the music scene here. Searching for local bands on the Internet, the music of Krosswindz finally made the connection with David Dykstra. With another Calcutta trip looming on the horizon, he emailed the band, asking if he could make some music with them. ?That was 10 days ago. And here I am now,? smiled the soft-spoken and extremely polite Dykstra, sitting on a sofa at Krosswindz duo Bikramjit and Chandrani?s home-cum-studio on Tuesday afternoon. Dykstra is a jazz keyboardist who has made albums of his own, played with Latin funk bands back home and opened for greats like Carlos Santana. But at the session with Krosswindz, things are more freewheeling. ?I really want to start with a jam. Music is all about energy and connection. I want to see if there?s a connection here. If there is, that?s great. If not, that?s okay too,? offered the man who works in a financial company by day. What followed was a jam in the Krosswindz studio that carried on for the next few hours. It took Dykstra the first few bars of the opening piece to get into the groove. A few minutes into the number, he was branching out into solos. ?The connection is definitely there,? agreed both Dykstra and Krosswindz, taking a breather a while later. As a teenager, Dykstra had started out with the saxophone but soon shifted to the keyboard. ?I arranged, recorded and produced my first album in 1991, called A Gazelle Hunter?s Weekend.? He then joined the funk rock Bautista band and later founded La Ventana. Dykstra?s first tryst with India was at 19, when, on a ?quest for the truth?, he made a trip to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. ?I read the Upanishads and the Gita and felt I had to visit this country,? Dykstra recalled. Things have changed since, but there?s something ?truly special? about rural India that takes Dykstra back to the villages almost every time he?s here. That and a trip to a Buddhist monastery in Karnataka, ever since he converted to Buddhism. But the jam with Krosswindz is certainly the highlight of this trip. ?It was really nice of him to get in touch and come and play with us,? said Bikramjit. The band is recording the jam for possible inclusion in its next album, due in Puja 2006.
Blowing in the Windz
Blowing in the windz Their journey has continued through numerous line-up changes for 15 years. Their sound in the past few years has been refreshing in its blend of Bangla folk and Western rock. Now, Krosswindz (in performance at Someplace Else pictured right) is gearing up with its sixth studio album, Misiki Misiki, scheduled for release next month. ?The title comes from michki michki hashi (a mischievous smile) spoken in a dialect,? explains Bikramjit Banerjee, guitarist and a founding member of the band. The 11-track album was recorded in the home studio of Bikram and Chandrani (his wife and vocalist of Krosswindz) and will be released by Sagarika. ?There is baul, jhumur and goalbari songs on Misiki Misiki, done in a way that Krosswindz would approach folk, incorporating world music elements,? offers Chandrani. Besides 10 traditional tunes ? five on the love between Radha and Krishna ? the album features a song penned by Chandrani, called Jajabor Pokkhhi. Jhiko Jhiko, Krosswindz?s last album released in 2004, was one of the most successful ones for the band. ?We?re actually getting royalty for the first time from an album,? exclaims Bikramjit. The mix of contemporary feel and exotic instruments like the Assamese dotara worked, he feels. Tracks from Jhiko Jhiko were even played on Australian radio. ?They probably heard the songs over the Internet or from people carrying the sound back from Calcutta,? says Chandrani. Krosswindz music has also featured in international compilations with One World and Mahut Bondhu finding a place on 2003?s Music of the Globe, released by American independent label Joe Anthony Productions. The current line-up of Krosswindz ? Nitin on bass, Ratanjit on keyboard, Avinash on drums and Dwaipayan on vocals ? is just over a year old, though the band was formed in 1990 in St Xavier?s College and released its first single in 1993. Recording the new album was quite a different experience for the kinds of sounds that Krosswindz experimented with ? from Peruvian folk to Indian violin. ?While we were recording, we heard this Indian violin seller playing on the street. We invited him in and asked him to play for the album? it was great,? recalls Bikramjit. ?A video of the title track is scheduled for September. And we are also planning to put together a celebration album on the 15th year of Krosswindz with unreleased material. Let?s see how soon we?re able to do that.?
Fun fest for femme force
Krosswindz in performance; Babul Supriyo; Mir with actress Rimjhim on stage; participants in the Most Beautiful Hair contest; kids match steps with the band’s tunes at the Dabur Anmol Coconut Jasmine Hair Oil Sananda Carnival at Nalban. Krosswindz in performance; Babul Supriyo; Mir with actress Rimjhim on stage; participants in the Most Beautiful Hair contest; kids match steps with the band’s tunes at the Dabur Anmol Coconut Jasmine Hair Oil Sananda Carnival at Nalban.
Staying in Tune
Staying in tune Tuki and Chandrani Banerjee’s shared passion for all things musical keeps their relationship on just the right note They are one of the most visible couples on Calcutta’s music scene today. Of course, the long flowing hair ? both his and hers ? helps. But ultimately if it’s anything that makes one sit up and listen to Vikramjit ‘Tuki’ Banerjee and wife Chandrani, it’s their music ? soul-searching, gut-busting and always tuned into the times. Married for 12 years now, the two spend most of their time hitting the high notes for Krosswindz, one of Calcutta’s big rock successes. Tuki has been the band’s lead guitarist and frontman ever since it first exploded on to the city’s fledgling music scene about 15 years ago. Endless gigs and five successful albums later, Krosswindz has just launched a new album, Misiki Misiki, a work rooted in world music. But while the melodies may be global, the band sticks to its roots having kept the lyrics in Bengali. “We may have started out as a typical rock band. But somewhere along the way, we became caught up in the whirlwind that is world music,” says Tuki. “It’s all about offering music lovers something new and exciting,” he says. So, today Krosswindz plays what Tuki calls ‘world rock’. A former journalist with The Rock Street Journal, wife Chandrani signed on to become the full-time lead vocalist of the band in 1999. By then, she had already earned quite a name for herself as an underground singer to reckon with. Today Tuki and Chandrani, as also their bandmates, are busy doing gigs. But when husband and wife are not rocking hard in Someplace Else or at yet another jam session, the two spend most of their time at their Tollygunge home and studio doing, what else but making sweet music! TUKI: I remember being quite impressed the very first time I met Chandrani. It was back in 1992 at the Marine Engineering College at Taratala, which was holding its annual fest. Chandrani was participating in the Western music competition and was looking for a guitarist to accompany her on stage. Someone suggested my name and before I knew it, she approached me. What impressed me about her then was the song she’d selected to sing ? not some soppy Mariah Carey number but Vincent by Don McLean, a celebrated folk anthem. She won the first prize that day and I guess, my smitten heart as well. After that, we kept bumping into each other at various college events and I remember doing all the chasing. One thing led to another and within a year, I proposed marriage. I was just 22. Yet, I knew I couldn’t imagine a life without a partner who wouldn’t be able to share the pure joy of music. Chandrani was passionate about music, and I knew I had found ‘the one’. Besides my initial awe at her voice, what struck me about Chandrani early on was the fact that although a free spirit, she was a traditional Indian woman at heart. We also share a lot in common and our appreciation of various things are startlingly similar. For instance, perhaps there’s this particular jazz piece which would appeal to nobody, and both Chandrani and I would derive extraordinary pleasure from listening to it. That’s how we are ? always in sync! Professionally, I think the world of my wife. She’s been blessed with a voice that can effortlessly glide from genre to genre. So while in one breath, she can sing a sweet Bangla folk song, in the next, she can hit out hard with a Janis Joplin track. That’s why she’s such an asset to our band. I also really value her advice when it comes to production and mixing as she has a brilliant ear for music. Now I’m a pretty moody person but Chandrani has always been compassionate to my mood swings. I’m terribly impatient too. I need to get to the crux of the matter and fast. Thankfully, Chandrani understands all my little quirks. I also know that no other woman would tolerate a man playing the guitar for 12 hours at a stretch, or accept that I become oblivious to all else when in the studio. No one but Chandrani understands that I wake up thinking of music and fall asleep doing the same. CHANDRANI: I was nervous when I first approached Tuki at the fest. There I was, this small town girl from Chandannagar, and there he was, one of the city’s hottest guitarists. Yet when we joined forces on stage that day ? with not even one rehearsal, mind you ? it was magic! Ours was a whirlwind courtship. I had just completed my Part I exams, when Tuki proposed. I was very young but Tuki’s belief in us was unflappable. It was this that made me accept. What drew me to Tuki was that he’s a simple-hearted person. He’s not at all complicated. Of course, his mind-blowing sense of music also attracted me. I’ve always wanted to sing. And being with Tuki has taught me that you don’t need to be an engineer with a huge house to be happy. The two of us are walking down a different road and while we’re not filthy rich, we’re happy. Regards my take on Tuki professionally, I must say he is a complete musician. He’s a brilliant guitarist of course, and even his song-writing abilities are superb. The song Silences, which he penned for our One World album, reads like poetry. He’s a well-rounded musician in that he even does his own mixing and sound engineering. While many believe that living with a creative person is very difficult, I beg to differ. In my opinion, it’s an uncommon journey. I understand Tuki better because I too am a musician. He’s always in a different time zone, but I understand that, as I get that way too. We musicians are a weird race all right! Photograph by Rashbehari Das
Bangla band returns to rock roots
Bangla band returns to rock roots - Puja release for album Krosswindz in performance. A Telegraph picture It?s the annual musical treat from the melody-makers, but with a difference this time. Krosswindz, one of the oldest city bands, is readying its new album for a Puja 2006 release. The latest offering sees the band move away from the folk flavour and return to rock roots. ?The music of the new album is world rock. There?s a strong influence of rock but other sounds from around the world as well, like Irish folk and Afro,? says Bikramjit Banerjee, founding member of Krosswindz. There is also a focus on the live element this time around, with a lot of live guitar work, Bikramjit adds. The nine-track album features the regular line-up of Bikramjit, Chandrani and Ratanjit, along with Nigel Gomez on drums and OC on bass. ?Around 50 per cent of the work is complete. Some guitar solos and few Chandrani final vocals are left,? says Bikramjit. Chandrani has author ed and sung all the songs. ?The songs are in Bengali and deal with a variety of things, including the times in a day when a person feels meaningless and introspective,? she offers. Her personal favourite is Duto Kotha, a song about a somewhat-bewildered person looking for hope and optimism. ?Duto Kotha? is also in contention for the album title. ?There are some folksy tracks like Padmapatar Majhi but the sound is more rock compared to our last album Misiki Misiki,? Chandrani adds. Like most Krosswindz albums, the recording is being done in Bikramjit and Chandrani?s Tollygunge home studio. ?There are several advantages of working at home. You can move at your own pace, not have to compromise due to lack of time and the comfortable atmosphere allows you to get more done,? feels the duo. Besides working on the album ? slated to come out just before the Puja ? and playing their weekly set at Someplace Else, the band is touring regularly. ?We had a fantastic time in Bhutan recently, where we played for the royal family,? says Bikramjit. Also on the cards is an album of original English compositions, which will be taken up ?as soon as we complete this one?.
Ready for Change, not Switchover
Jamshedpur, April 22: After mesmerising the country with their rock, blues, Bengali and folk numbers, Calcutta-based band Krosswindz is all set to take experimentation to a new level. The band, which has been experimenting with Bengali and Assamese folk music, is now ready to experiment with other contemporary folk styles. Mostly known as a folk rock group, Krosswindz is perhaps the oldest band in the rock circuit of Calcutta. The band was here to perform at United Club during a Poila Baisakh programme on Saturday. The band comprises Chandrani (vocals), Vikramjit Banerjee (guitar and production) and and Ratanjit Banerjee (keyboard). Chandrani said although influenced by Bengali and Assamese folk music, she has recently come across some Bhojpuri songs. “We are a folk rock band though we have tried almost everything else. I recently came across some Bhojpuri songs and would like to work on it,” she said, adding that they are ready to experiment with all kinds of folk music though they concentrate on Bengali and Assamese. “We did many songs which had both Assamese and Bengali lyrics. The advantage was that we catered to the audience of both cities. At the same time, we are also open to all other folk music,” she said. While Chandrani is influenced by singers like Purnadas Baul, Prataima Baul and Abida Parveen, Vikramjit is influenced by Jimi Hendrix. The band has been selected by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to represent India on overseas musical concerts. The band has also collaborated with reputed international and national artistes on projects. The band also came out with an English album and are working on another. Band members said it was very difficult to come out with anything else other than Bengali music while based in Calcutta. The record companies are just not ready to bring out an English album though we are trying our best to do it again, said the members. At the same time, the band does not have any immediate plans to switchover as done by many other bands. “Right now we do not have any such plans as our band has a carved out a definite niche in the Bengali circuit. Maybe sometime later we would be able to switchover,” said Chandrani.
Gigs galore to ring in New Year
Gigs galore to ring in New Year - Calcutta band Krosswindz takes 20,000-strong Shillong crowd into 2007 OUR BUREAU It was music for a cause for Zubeen Garg when he performed at the Sishu Shanti Samaroh in aid of children from violence-hit families in Assam on Saturday. Picture by Eastern Projections Dec. 31: In Shillong, music rolls along. And how! The Meghalaya capital lived up to the title and theme song of a musical New Year bash as a 20,000-strong crowd let its hair down for one last time in 2006. As dazzling fireworks lit up the first hour of 2007, Police Bazar Square played host to a heady fusion of music, food and, well, some more music. “This is awesome! We are in our 16th year of some very memorable performances, but we have not seen anything like this,” said Vikramjit Banerjee, lead guitarist for Calcutta-based rock band Krosswindz, after an exhilarating opening act. Organised by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum with support from the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation, the show began at 8.30 pm as local bands Felixis and Snow White got the crowd into the groove with some oldies and classic rock ’n’ roll numbers. They strummed the right chord, which Krosswindz then tuned to a “rock”-solid crescendo with some breathtaking renditions of everything from The Beatles and Pat Metheny to Pink Floyd. Guwahati faced some good old music too, though not from the vigilante Asom Sena, with bands belting out foot-tapping numbers to take the city into the New Year. Despite a stern warning from the moral policing unit of the All Assam Students’ Union, the city’s party scene ranged from the traditional to the funky. Fashion shows, DJ nights and buffets — leading hotels, lounge bars and discotheques dished out an array of options for Guwahatians. Mizoram heralded 2007 with roof-top performances at Millenium Centre, a local mall. Youths also gathered at the Temple Square to celebrate under the open skies. Amidst the revelry, church bells tolled to mark the first moments of the new year. In Manipur, Imphal’s Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre resounded with the notes of The Great Two Nights, another concert. The programme, which will continue till tomorrow, is being organised by Sana Konung Semgat Lup. Proceeds from the show will go into the renovation of the Manipur Palace. In Nagaland, a diktat by the NSCN (I-M) banning all late-night entertainment led to virtually no celebrations at all.
Band it like Bangla
The Krosswindz song Tangra tobu katon jaye has been nominated for Best Indian Classical/Traditional Song Nominee Writer at the Just Plain Folks, a music awards in the US parallel to the Grammy, this November.