"Jazz is a very heavy four letter word," Tarun Balani talks music, his new EP and virtual gigs
The NH7 Weekender music festival is going digital this year. Its unique platform will use state-of-the-art technology to create an immersive experience with a global chat window, private watch parties, bar games with prizes, and of course three stages - The BACARDÍ Arena, the Dewars stage and the BREEZER Vivid stage. We speak to Delhi-based jazz drummer and composer Tarun Balani who makes music under the moniker Seasonal Affected Beats:
How does it feel like being at the forefront of jazz in India?
I don’t know if I’d look at it that way. Jazz is a very heavy four letter word, and I prefer the term ‘improvised music’ over jazz. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to immerse myself in this art form at a very early stage of my music development and I am continuously trying to balance the weight of tradition and innovation.
If at all, and since you’ve asked, if I were to take any credit (which I don’t) for being at the forefront of jazz in India, all I’d like to say is that artists should not conform to any styles that appear popular, trendy, or hip. Instead, deeply think about what do they want to say through their music, and that should define what style of music they wish to engage with. And hopefully that leads to studying and emulating the greats, spending countless hours assimilating that information, and then may be being able to innovate and finding an expression that is truly unique and their own.
Do you think jazz enjoys a similar level of popularity as other genres in independent music in India. And if not, what does it gain from being niche?
I think we should be careful while using the term ‘popular’ because it also might reflect ignorance. I feel popularity in the current independent scene is more like herd mentality, I am not sure if people are really listening to the content, quality and thinking about who the artists are and what do they stand for. I think we’re still at the stage in our current independent scene where we’re easily excited by just the fact that something is happening or by a new release. I think it is imperative that we start evaluating what we’re listening to and if it’s worth our time.
How has the reception been to your new EP, The Shape Of Things To Come?
I am fortunate to have had a very positive and an appreciative response for the new EP. It is quite a departure from my previous works, both sonically and the fact that I was presenting a new line up. I’d like to thank all my listeners for lending their ears to my music. Of course, it would’ve been great to present the music live, nonetheless, it’s been a wonderful experience and I am already writing new music for the next album.
How well do you think your music translates to online gigs?
I do feel my music will translate well to an online concert because as an improviser, I don’t think I would perform differently for an online gig or a live gig. However, having a live audience does add another dimension to the performance because you can feed off of their energy. What I do enjoy about online gigs is that there’s no back breaking tour schedule or lengthy sound-checks, and I can focus on the performance in the comfort of my studio.
What can we expect from your performance at NH7 Weekender?
This one is special because not only am I presenting a set of improvised electronic music as Seasonal Affected Beats but also bringing in the audiences into my studio space which is an integral part of my creative process. I am also really excited to feature KAVYA for our track Let the Light in from my EP, 2°, and I cannot wait to perform at NH7 Weekender!
Rs 199. December 5 - 6, 7 pm. On NH7.in