Watch Chennai-based Tamil rock band Aatma perform their first ticketed event at Backyard
It was hours of jamming, writing and composing in a tiny room that got a five-piece band of 20-something-year-olds to start their own independent band, Aatma. The vocalist Abhijith Rao (23), songwriter Ram Ganesh (26), bass guitarist Srinath Laksh (25), lead guitarist Parama Shakthi (27) and percussionist Kumaran Shivamani (26) are all from KM Conservatory in Kilpauk, and it was there that they started their musical journey together. While they started out in 2016 by just doing covers and occasionally playing at weddings, they finally decided to form their own band to make music that was closer to their heart.
“We worked for one year composing and writing songs,” says Ram Ganesh, the guitarist. “Last month, we performed at a festival which was our first gig. But this is a special one, because its our first ticketed event.” With rock as their core genre, Aatma’s songs highlight issues like depression, mental illness, basic human emotions, social causes and political issues as well. “Basically, we want to write about things that are close to us and we want to make music on it. We also sing completely in Tamil.”
Ask Ram about the language and he says that the call they lyrics ‘little folk’ where they use Tamil that is not too archaic, but not too colloquial and everybody can understand. “We are completely inspired by bands like Oorka, Kulam and Sean Rolden and Friends,” says Ram, adding that listening to these Tamil bands opened them up to a world of independent rock bands and also pushed them to start Aatma. While most of the songs are penned by Ram himself, the songs are a collective effort. “For this gig, you can expect an acoustic set because of the space and ambience. It’s a smaller space so we rearranged our instruments — for example we have replaced the drums with the cajon, so that it’s not too loud.”
As far as the vision of the band goes, Aatma hopes to tap into the increasingly popular Tamil indie scene, which has now also gone commercial. “We have been getting good responses and that really motivates us to do better, write better,” says Ram, adding that they would love to go on a Tamil Nadu tour, as well as reach out to Tamil sangams in other countries.
Watch out for songs like Madhiketta Kuruda, which talks about self awareness and about editing the wrongs and rights in your life, Kalyugam, which is about the state of affairs today that might lead to the end of the world, Raathri, the quintessential track about lady love, and Angi, a spiritual song.
Tickets at `150. At Backyard.
On August 11. 7 pm onwards.