Interview: Hyderabad’s fusion band Niraval talks about its varied influences and the love for regional music
Niraval is a band known for its regional music, and they take their genre quite seriously. Unlike other outfits that essentially focus on Telugu and Hindi songs, Niraval, with a South Indian folk repertoire, promises a soundscape that takes you on a musical journey to the mountains of Nilgiris, the banks of Godavari and backwaters of Kerala, along with a North Indian touch.
Vocalist and keyboardist Krishnan Ganesan, however, says that it was never a planned move to be so diverse, in terms of language. “The whole band was not formed in one go, so it was never planned. But we consider it to be our strength. The audience also enjoys listening to the one song, AR Rahman’s Saathiya for instance, being sung in three different languages,” he says. Apart from Krishnan, the band comprises guitarist Sweekar Agasthi (music director of C/o Kancharapalem), flautist Falak Chhaya, drummer Vaishak Menon and bassist Sagar Ramchandruni. Much like their geographical diversity, the band members of Niraval also bring various influences to the fore, apart from their common love for regional music. While Sagar is inspired by Western metal, Falak is a trained Hindustani vocalist and Sweekar’s influences include folk music.
Where it all began
What started off as an open mic band in late 2015 at The Moonshine Project’s concept Varnam (a platform where regional and folk music is promoted with an aim to cherish music in their native tongue), Niraval took complete shape only last year with the current line-up.
In a year’s time, the five-member band has achieved quite a loyal following, not just among the regular audience but also with the celebrities — with Allu Sneha Reddy calling them her favourite band and opening for guitarist Prasanna, Masala Coffee and the launch of Vijay Devarakonda’s clothing line Rowdy. Niraval, however, believes in enjoying success, while also taking criticism positively. “For almost two years, I played to an empty crowd. So it’s not an overnight success for us. Even last year, we had a couple of people who told us our set got repetitive. It didn’t upset us. Instead, we chose to work harder and in the next gig, we played a set with 25 new covers,” shares Krishnan.
Although popular for their cover songs of Ilayaraja, AR Rahman, Keeravani and Santhosh Narayanan, Niraval is currently working on original songs. “Before we record and release it, we want to get some feedback from our audience,” says Krishnan.