Rishabh Seen opens up on being the world's only metal sitarist
Ahead of his upcoming performance at The Moonshine Project, Hyderabad, the musician talks about mixing the two genres, his musical inspirations and more.
Punjab-born Rishabh Seen is not your regular sitar player. Sitar is an instrument majorly used for the tunes of Indian classical music. However, Rishabh shattered this norm by becoming the only musician in the world who blends metal with this stringed musical instrument. Coming from a family of musicians (his grandfather, Ustad Lachhman Singh Seen, a noted tabla maestro and his father, Manu Kumar Seen, a renowned sitarist), Rishabh started playing sitar at seven. But it was only in 2011 that he discovered the heavier sides of rock and metal following an introduction to Foo Fighters and Slipknot. “It changed my entire vision about life and music, in general. I discovered that progressive metal was based on instrument-driven songs and that is the point where Indian classical and metal meet. Although I have a soul of an Indian classical musician, in my heart, I’m a metal head,” shares the 21-year-old musician.
Interestingly, when Risbabh first set out to combine the two genres and compose new tunes, the initial response wasn’t welcoming, due to the stereotypes most have against metal being anything but soothing or a healthy obsession. However, things changed when he uploaded his first cover of Tempting Time in 2015, which garnered him more than six lakh views. “It was the first progressive metal song I ever heard and it blew my mind. I thought this would be the perfect piece to show the world that the two genres can be put together. For me, it’s like combining two cultures and sounds, which seem opposite but are quite similar in terms of evoking an inner revolution and spreading peace,” the Dave Grohl-inspired musician says.
Explaining the technicalities of sitar and metal, Rishabh says that the structure of how they’re playing is what differentiates them. “In classical, you play one scale or raaga in a single concert of about 45 minutes or so. Whereas, in metal, you play more than three to four scales in a fixed song that is just limited to five minutes,” he adds. His recent song, It all ends here, was the only sitar-fronted song to be on the top 100 songs in India.
At a young age, Rishabh has already set a record of being the first metal sitarist in the world. The young man certainly seems unstoppable. “I will release my solo sitar metal album this year, along with a few covers of Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Gojira and more artists on Sitar. My solo headlining sitar metal shows and Arijit Singh concerts are a few other things I’m working on,” he informs.
Rishabh will perform at the seventh edition of the indie music festival, Infinite Cartwheels, along with Handpan player Daniel Waples and guitarist Samar Mehdi. Expect a mix of spiritual moments and heavy, chaotic tunes that include original music composed by the artiste.
Ticket: Rs. 500. On March 11, 7.30 pm onwards.
At The Moonshine Project.