Interviews

Our new album ‘Sand and Foam’ is a tribute to Kahlil Gibran’s work and philosophy

By Ojasvi Kapoor
September 07, 2022
Our new album ‘Sand and Foam’  is a tribute to Kahlil Gibran’s work and philosophy

Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash represent the seventh generation of a musical lineage known as the Senia Bangash School.  Over the years both brothers have developed individual and distinctive musical voices and have become central figures in North Indian classical music.

Fresh off the success of their collaboration with Nobel-prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, now the celebrated Bangash brothers have announced the launch of their new album  ‘Sand And Foam’ in association with global production house Tiger Turn.

In a freewheeling chat with Loudest.in the Bangash brothers spoke about their new album and more.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about your new album Sand and Foam?

Amaan:  Taking as inspiration from the master of timeless wisdom, Khalil Gibran’s illustrious works, especially in current times, I feel that his thoughts are very relevant. It was something we collectively wanted to execute musically. Literally as Gibran says, “solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches; yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth.”

I am so honored to have been a part of this process. As Gibran says, ‘music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.’ It’s with that very ethos that we have created this album. We are ever so grateful to all of the amazing artists who have teamed up with us on this very memorable album.

 Ayaan: A first for us in this genre. We first worked with Sehgal on our 2021 album, Strings of Peace. I thought with Kabir’s sensibilities we can come to a meeting point, and we both took inspiration from Gibran’ s work and philosophy. Gibran’s work of universal brotherhood and hope influenced the style and compositions. 

This album is Jazz heavy from our perspective as Kabir is from that world. We have fused East and West artistic traditions and turned to the eclectic works of Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese writer and painter, for inspiration. The album and almost all tracks are named after Gibran's works. The eight tracks are an unfolding fusion of classical Indian music, with jazz harmonies, trap drums, and neo-synths. Special guest appearances by Claudia Acuna (vocals), Latin Grammy nominee; Tivon Pennicott (sax); Caliph (rap), Oran Etkins (saxophone), Malini Aswathi (vocals), Sudha Raghunathan (vocals).We were honoured to have such a diverse line-up. It is the first time our instruments have amalgamated with these textures of sound.

Who is your biggest inspiration currently from the music industry?

Amaan: Initially I was conditioned into music but now it's a passion and a reason for immense happiness in my life. Being my father’s son, it's a matter of great honour and I feel highly privileged that god gave me the opportunity to be born into this family. My main concern is not to just get popular but the fear of embarrassing my father, god forbid, if I am unable to make good music.

Ayaan: My parents continue to be my epitomes of being inspirational figures. The mantra taught by our parents has been to be a good human being first and good music will follow. Music is who we are and our nature reflects in our music. Therefore as siblings we know each other’s mind on stage. There is no rehearsal.

The idea when we play duets is to create a bouquet of flowers, though we have our solo careers too. My parents have influenced me on a personal, emotional and spiritual level. When we were growing up, our father would always be very happy to see us listen to music, not just practise it. Not just his own music, but the music of an entire range of artists, from the era of our grandfather to the contemporaries of our father. 

We were never asked to listen to a particular artiste, or not to listen to another; to listen only to classical music and not to listen to the music of the West or Bollywood. The choice and the freedom were entirely ours. But it is only natural to be influenced by the music that your guru speaks of or refers to when he plays. We thus became engrossed in the world of Indian classical music that our father had grown up with, along with our own contemporary choices.

How the Works of Kahlil Gibran Inspired Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash's New  Album 'Sand and Foam'

 Tell us about your collaboration with Nobel-prize winner Kailash Satyarthi?

Amaan: ‘We for Love’ will always be a very special EP for us. The EP aimed to create awareness about Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation called Justice For Every Child called We for Love (Justice For Every Child). Children are our future. Their protection is an issue which should concern all of us. There are many such subjects which require immediate attention. However, we need to place children above everything else as their development is critical to their future.

 You could call it an experimental EP that embraces an eclectic mix of collaborators including Karan Johar, Karsh Kale, Malini Awasthi, Mahesh Kale, Shubha Mudgal and our father and guru the iconic Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. The prolific Paresh Maity has been instrumental in creating the cover art of the presentation and has taken inspiration from his Odyssey of Celebration XII.

Ayaan: This is a national campaign that ensures victims of child sexual abuse and rape get timely justice and mental health support to enable them to heal and continue their lives with dignity and freedom. We wanted to speak about this and create awareness. There is so much that has to be done! We encourage all to donate to the campaign to ensure that child victims of rape and sexual abuse receive the much-needed support in their quest for justice. Together we can and we must ensure justice for every child. We are so honoured to have a galaxy of artistes who are such game changers in their field. Creatively, it was a desire to work with all of them for years, but perhaps this cause got us all together as all the artists resonated with the ethos of the campaign. 

 What is your advice to young artists?

Amaan: Like cosmic divinity, music knows few barriers or boundaries. The learning process is constant. It’s constant and eternal. The universal concept of togetherness and unity has a beautiful message through the world. Today, the audience knows what they like and also what they don’t like. In any creative journey you only know that you don't know. Hard work and destiny!

 Ayaan: You cannot impose an artist on anyone. Work hard, be humble and don’t take yourself too seriously, you’re not the first, you’ll not be the last. You are as good as your last work. You start over and carry on with your musical journey and quest. You are a student till the last day you walk the planet. 

 Tell us about your upcoming projects?

Amaan: We are looking forward to our tour dates in the US and in the UK. We are working with some amazing artists like Violinist Jennifer Pike.

Ayaan: MUSIC FOR HOPE is a collaboration with Chinese pipa player Wu Man. The cultural dominance of China and India in Asia stretches back to thousands of years. Harmony means so many different things, not only within music theories, but also on a human level. These musicians, from diverse musical traditions, are already seeking harmony by coming together to make a new music, and are finding it by responding to each other in their musical creativity. 

Harmony is  joining together people and cultures, not just musical phrases and responses. The principal aim of this project is to support the AAPI movement ( Hate Against Asian American Pacific Islander)and raise awareness of it's struggle, which can be seen as the restoration of harmony amid the discord created by discrimination. The musicians expressing this power of music, transcending national boundaries, are leading virtuosi on their instruments, and all have ventured extensively into cross-cultural collaborations. Both Wu Man and Shane Shanahan are founding members of Yo-Yo Ma's Silkroad project.

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