Fete De La Musique: Here are three chosen performers who will rock the World Music Day celebration in Chennai

Join the World Music Day celebration with these three promising city-based performers  

Karan Pillai Published :  20th June 2019 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  20th June 2019 06:00 AM
Representational pic

Representational pic

Billed as some of Chennai’s rising musicians, the three artistes finalised for this year’s Fete De La Musique celebrations by Alliance Française are rapper Jack Styles, and progressive rock bands, Quadrophobia and SyZyGy. At the World Music Day celebrations, which will be held in association with EarthSync and KM Music Conservatory, first up to perform will be Jack, who has modeled his freestyling on some of the international industry’s biggest names. The certified sound engineer, who also practices mixed martial arts, hopes that one-day rap music will be spoken in the same breath as
cinema music. 

Following him would be the two bands, who are equally excited to be performing at this event. SyZyGy defines their music as psychedelic progressive rock, with lengthy songs and ambient textures, with shades of punk rock and post-rock. Quadrophobia, on the other hand, are more into the instrumental arena, with a few inspired pieces on offer as well. Expect their set for tonight to have two original instrumental compositions, as well as a work by Tigran Hamasyan (of The Poet fame), and an arrangement of the Dream Theater song, Breaking All Illusions. Excerpts: 

Jack Styles
Jack Styles

When and how did you get inspired to take up music as a profession?

Jack Styles: Eminem’s verse on Smack That was the first rap verse that I’ve ever listened to when I was around 12 years old. Although 50 Cent’s In Da Club was the first rap song that caught my attention, I never knew that song was actually a rap song! But years later, I fell in love with the art of rhythm and poetry and studied famous artistes. I’m still learning! Then I started rapping for my school at the age of 15 and that’s where it all first started for me, as a rapper.

SyZyGy: We’ve all been doing what we do since we were little. Somewhere deep down, we knew what we were going for. It was only a matter of time before we realised it. It took a while to convince our elders, but here we are.

Quadrophobia: Each of us picked up our instruments at a pretty young age, whether it was the keyboard, drums, guitar, flute or voice — so we’ve been pursuing these individual roles for at least ten years. Although it happened at different points of time for each of us, there was a phase when everything just clicked, and we jumped to music as a career choice.   

Tell us more about your first professional music project. What were the challenges you faced up until then? 

JS: Having no prior experience, Grace Karunas (playback singer) got me a chance to feature in a song with singer Karthik, during my 10th grade, after winning the best entertainer award, and winning the trophy in Vijay TV’s Aachi Sing The Season 2011, while representing MCC School. This was the first time ever that I entered a music studio. I was nervous to perform in front of an audience. But look where we are now.  

Quadrophobia: We started out as a duo back in 2015 when Hrisheek (the pianist) and Rahul (on drums) met through our mutual fascination for progressive rock legends, Dream Theater. Our first collaboration was on an instrumental medley of Dream Theater songs taken from across the band’s 30-year career. One of our biggest challenges was finding an audience to connect with — progressive rock was even more of a niche genre at our college, which meant our audiences were not really used to this kind of sound and weren’t able to relate to it as much. 

SyZyGy: If those high school bands count, I think that was it for all of us, separately. I think the main challenge there was immaturity as musicians. These are the formative years of a musician’s growth, so that’s when you learn to put your ego aside and serve the music. Looking back at those performances almost feels embarrassing, but hey, it’s an important part of an artist’s growth.


How do you look back on your success over the years? What were the challenges you faced along the way?

JS: The struggles are real but the journey is blessed. It‘s not easy for an independent artist to shine in a cinema dominating industry but I‘ve had very supportive humans pushing me to the max till the very moment and I literally represent every single soul who‘s been a part of my journey. We have a bigger success story to share in the near future. 

Quadrophobia: One of the biggest challenges we faced as a band was the availability of members – due to each member of the band being at a different stage of college, the band was almost constantly in a state of flux. Another issue we had was finding members who had the ability and more importantly, interest, to play this genre of music. However, the situation has stabilised in the last ten months and the band now has a fixed roster of members, which has allowed us to work on a greater and more diverse repertoire set than ever before. 

SyZyGy: We’ve just started out; we’re far from successful. The band only got together back in September of 2018? But we’ve experienced a lot along the way. I think the biggest challenge we faced was getting along with each other since we’re all extremely different than one another. We’ll proudly say though that we learnt to overcome that one. And it feels great to be making good music together.

How would you describe your musical style? 

JS: I love poetry in rhythm. It helps me communicate freely. A lot of people can easily relate to my music today. Hip-hop music has evolved from The Sugarhill  Gang and Tupac Shakur to Biggie and Eminem. Now with Drake and others, it has surpassed rock ’n’ roll to become the most popular genre for the first time in history. Today, there are hundreds of sub-genres and styles in hip-hop music.  

Quadrophobia: When we first started out, our sounds were heavily influenced by Dream Theater, leaning more towards the old metal style of prog. In recent times, our discovery of Tigran Hamasyan, an Armenian pianist and the pioneer of the progressive jazz genre, as well as prog newcomers, Plini and Arch Echo, has led us in a slightly texturally-lighter, but more rhythmically complex, style. 

SyZyGy: We all grew up listening to quite different sorts of music. Siddharth and Ameen are rockheads, Prashanth is an amazing classical guitarist, Aditya grew up on EDM and Alex has been singing some great pop stuff over the years. So, starting out as a progressive rock band, it was a pretty unique sound that came out, and since then we’ve been trying our best to live up to what the genre really stands for.


Do you have any upcoming projects in the works? How different will they be from your previous work? Any collaborations to expect?

SyZyGy: We have an album coming out, hopefully by the end of this year. It will be our first, and it’s a concept album. As far as collabs go, since we’re all in a music college, we’re surrounded by amazing musicians. You never know whom we might just click with. It’s all about growing together, according to us.

Quadrophobia: We plan to release two original singles fairly soon. We do have another track currently in progress, and we have taken a different approach to this from an instrumentation standpoint — the first two originals were written for drums, bass, and two keyboards; but now we are expanding this to include saxophone and voice, to take advantage of the personnel and skills we have 
at hand.

Lastly, are you employing any new styles of music into your repertoire?

JS: I’ve been thinking about bringing back the old Tamil Nadu-based instruments like nadaswaram, and fusing it with rap music.

Quadrophobia: We are keen to bring in styles such as folk, jazz, and djent into the umbrella of prog.

Today. 6 pm onwards. At Edouard Michelin Auditorium. Entry free. 

(You can mail the author at karan@newindianexpress.com or follow him on Twitter at @karan_pillai)