Interviews

“BE TRUE TO YOURSELF”: Ravi Iyer On His Journey In The Music Industry

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By Noor Anand Chawla
There are few musicians who can lay claim to having followed their passion despite the odds – Guitarist, Composer, Producer and Educator Ravi Iyer is one of them. With over 30 years in the business, he has both the experience and the largesse to share it with others. His most recent composition, ‘Synthesis – The Indian Muse’, is a unique virtually-conducted collaboration with 16 other artists. He joins BusinessWorld Everything Experiential for a candid chat on his interesting musical career.

Excerpts:

Q1.Congratulations on the release of your new song! We would love to know about your
journey in the music industry so far.

Thanks! I began my musical journey by learning the Tabla during childhood from my Guru Late Shri V. Acharekar for five years. I was also a gold medallist for my Tabla solo performance in a prestigious Inter-School competition held back then. Later, I was inspired by guitar virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore, and took up the Guitar in my teens. There’s been no looking back since then. I’ve been tutored by my Guitar Gurus late  Bismarck Rodrigues, Christopher Rodricks and  John Timothy.

This love for music and the Guitar led to me forming my first Rock Band which was a Heavy Metal one called ‘WITCHHAMMER’ in 1990. Later, I formed the Classic Rock Band ‘Vayu’ in 1997 and an Alternative Band ‘Para Vayu’ in 2008. Now, of course I am a committed independent artist and I perform with my solo Guitar Fusion Project and other collaborative musical ventures. I also teach the Guitar since almost 30 years under my banner Ravi Iyer Academy.
I have released five albums and many singles in the rock and fusion genres, which have won a number of prestigious awards and are available across all digital music stores worldwide.
With my fusion band I have headlined at many concerts in India and around the world. I feel happy and privileged to have shared the stage with the biggest influences in the world of fusion genre, such as Dr. L. Subramaniam, Ustad Fazal Qureshi, Padmabhushan Vikku Vinayakram, Maestro Louis Banks, and Shivamani.

Q2.Please tell us about your association with ShowCase Events. How did you meet Nanni
Singh and what part of her vision were you most drawn to?

Nanni and I met for the Kasauli Fest a few years ago. There is always a good and positive exchange of energies when we interact, and we equally enjoy the process of creating a concept.
After the pandemic hit, Nanni and ShowCase Studio started hosting these virtual concerts, and she asked me to do a set. It was tough for me

back then because I had broken my finger in January, and I was still recovering. So, I requested some time to practice, to see if I could do it, and I did it despite the pain! She was of course delighted, and I was grateful to God that I could pull it off. This rekindled our association. I really appreciate the fact that she is very particular about the sound and her holistic perception of music, and this attribute finds a strong connect with me too. It’s always a pleasure to work with her!

Q3.How did Synthesis – The Indian Muse come about? What was your experience of
creating this unique composition and then compiling it virtually?

It was very interesting. Nanni called me one night and said that she was planning a collaborative song as part of the ShowCase banner. I thought the idea was fantastic and I was happy to be part of it. But she didn’t have a concrete plan, so I suggested that we should compose a completely new song, which could be a signature of ShowCase in the future.Something that would be completely pure and original like the iconic ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’, which could then become a mnemonic for the country and the cause she was promoting.

Then I took a day to come up with this piece. I love melodic and rhythmic arrangements and they are my strength as well – especially those that linger in your mind forever. I composed the tune and sent her a phone recording, and she loved it because it spelt the folkiness of what she wanted to showcase. It was a lovely experience to arrange and direct the entire composition. And of course, I was thrilled to have K.C. Loy adding his memorable lyrics. It was a creative challenge to identify each artist’s strength, especially those I have never worked with before and a pleasure to collaborate with such talent across the board. I was overwhelmed with the trust and belief Nanni and her team showed in me right from the conceptualization till the execution stages and the teamwork was amazing. Weenvisioned a common goal together that yielded the best of results.

Q4.How do you think the pandemic has affected the music industry? How has the industry
rallied together to overcome its negative effects?

I feel that the pandemic has helped many and destroyed many – there are two sides to the coin. For whom it has been a blessing, they have grown further. It’s very sad that the others have suffered a lot. As far as was possible, many have helped their near and dear ones, but I’m hoping that this pandemic ends soon!

Q5.What do you think the future of the music industry will be? Specifically, the future of
live performances.

I think a little differently when it comes to this – it has nothing to do with live performances or virtual performances, it’s got to do with the audiences. They have to be involved whether it’s onsite or online. In the earlier days, the kind of euphoria that live audiences used to show was very satisfying. Now audiences only go for volume or the name, and probably not the music. So, it doesn’t really matter whether you play virtual or live, as long as there is a strong connect with the audiences and the artist and the music. Having said that, virtual concerts have definitely helped in reaching out to wider audiences globally.

Q6.Any exciting projects in the works? We would love to know what you are working on
currently!

Currently, I am working on an interesting composition of my own which will be releasing soon. It’s a cinematic song with a philosophical thought behind it. The lyrics have been written by my dear friend Manisangsu Bhowmik, whose scholarly writings I have always admired.
Apart from my independent projects and commercial music duties, I also teach students from around the country and the world – all through word of mouth for the last 30 years. Interested students can check out my website raviiyerfusion.com.

Q7.What advice would you have for people entering the music industry now?

Be true to yourself and to others. It’s a rat race and everyone wants to prove something. The music industry has become a cut throat one. Know what you are meant for and nurture that skill. If you do this, you will automatically be successful in getting the respect and recognition for yourself. Give it the time it requires!

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