Introduction and Interview by Anupama Krishnakumar
Every time that I look at the logo of Agam, the music band from Bangalore, I feel there’s something intriguing about it. And perhaps that describes the motto of the logo too. To me, it conveys the essence of the music they produce – mystical and soul touching. Agam’s music is characterized by a mix of Carnatic music and classical rock.
What’s in a name, one may ask. Much, I would say. The name Agam too, isn’t here without a reason. Agam is a Tamil Word that means ‘Inner Self’, a name chosen to substantiate the band’s journey to identify with their inner self through music.
Swaminathan Seetharaman (Swamy), Agam’s band manager and a poet, musician and keyboardist in his own might, excitedly shares Agam’s beginnings. Harish Sivaramakrishnan (Agam’s lead vocalist) and Ganesh Ram Nagarajan’s (Agam’s percussionist) jamming sessions together in early 2003, which was essentially a continuation to what they had done as a part of their college band, indeed turned out to be the beginnings of what is now Agam. These jamming sessions were ones during which the character of Agam’s music began to take shape. When the duo met Swamy during a live performance, Agam’s journey took a definite direction. Soon, compositions by the band included lyrics and vocals too. But, the real turn to their story came in during 2007, when the band, which had grown to a six-membered team by then, registered itself for a band hunt reality show that was to be judged by A.R.Rahman. The name ‘Agam’ was officially born then and as Swamy proudly states, “Agam went on to win the competition and the genre of Agam’s music started to get even more refined and defined. There has been no looking back since then – Agam went on to play several shows and generated a steadily growing and committed fan base.”
And, true, there seems to have been no looking back since then. For, the band recently collaborated with noted playback singer, Shreya Ghoshal, for a Breast Cancer awareness initiative. When I ask Swamy what are some of the most memorable moments in Agam’s journey so far, he cites the birth of Brahma’s dance, their first ever single and the birth of Lakshiya Paadhai, the song that helped them win the A.R.Rahman judged reality show ‘Oohlalala..”. As part of winning the contest, the band got an opportunity to record their single at A R Rahman’s studio.
And I realize, the interview revealed so many more interesting thoughts and perspectives.
Catch our interesting and revealing conversation with Swamy here.
I guess everyone in Agam is balancing a full-time job and a creative passion. Do you think you are able to do justice to what you have established and sustain it? How do you manage to give Agam the time it may need?
Yes, everyone in Agam is into a full time job. Life in itself is a balancing act and it has been one heck of a balancing act for us filled with sleepless nights and personal sacrifices.
We have sustained the commitment to Agam for quite some time now and we strongly believe that this trend will continue as this is the quest that we are collectively going after in our lives.
How does it feel to be able to create something on your own?
The idea of playing and composing original music was always something that excited us. Every time we create something new, we feel like infusing life to an emotion or myriad of emotions.
What do you feel are some of the best points of being able to create your own music?
I think it is the freedom to express ourselves and paint our emotions and thoughts through music.
What do you think are the challenges?
Being stereotyped? This can be a big challenge but we try to infuse different sounds into our music and hope no two songs of ours sound the same. But we still make sure that the soul of our music remains intact.
Commercial compulsions? That could be a challenge. But, luckily for us, in all our ventures, we have been given complete liberty and freedom to do our stuff.
What does it mean to work together as a team? How exactly do you coordinate ideas? Do you discuss and dispute often?
Each individual understands their role very well and team effort is an integral part of Agam’s DNA. Though every band member brings in a different perspective, at an abstract level we converge on a common plane. As a band we are very open to new ideas and we discuss, dispute and criticize our own music more often than not.
With writers, we often talk about ‘writers block’. As a musician, do you experience that block sometimes too? What do you do then?
We consciously try to experiment and we derive our inspiration to create something new through strong social themes and also by listening to some great music.
According to you, when do you feel you are at your creative best?
We are at our creative best when we jam. For, that’s when the melodies and riffs take shape. The magic of playing together brings the best out of everyone in terms of creativity.
Finally, what does Agam aim to achieve in the years ahead?
We look forward to taking our music to the international space. We also wish to convey positive reinforcements to the community through music. We would like to explore more genres and would also be keen to venture into movies.
Pics Courtesy : Agam