Indian classical singers’ vocals as beautiful as instruments: Australian percussionist

Ben Walsh (Photo: Paulo-Barbuto)
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By Natalia Ningthoujam

New Delhi– Australian percussionist Ben Walsh, popular for his high-energy drumming style and controlling electronics in an artistic way, respects Bollywood and is a massive fan of Indian classical music. He says the voices of the country’s classical singers are as melodious as the instruments themselves.

Walsh, who was in the capital for his Remix Experiment solo show — presented by the Australian High Commission in collaboration with Wild City online music magazine — says he loves visiting India.

“I have been to India several times. India is phenomenal. Indian classical music is very close to my heart. I’ve been listening to it since I was a teenager,” Walsh told IANS here.

“It is one of my favourite forms of music. I do love classic Bollywood stuff like R.D. Burman’s compositions, but I think a lot of modern Bollywood songs are vocal-based. I usually like instrumental music. Indian classical vocals are as beautiful as the instruments,” he added.

Ben Walsh (Photo: Paulo-Barbuto)
Ben Walsh (Photo: Paulo-Barbuto)

Walsh is aware that Bollywood is massively popular among Indians.

“I respect it. It is a big film industry. I just think it is not for me. I want people to listen to my music on an art level and feel it,” said the percussionist, who had earlier paid tribute to Fearless Nadia, known as Hunterwali, Bollywood’s stunt queen.

This time, the self-proclaimed one-man band’s trip to Delhi wasn’t about collaborating with Indian classical musicians.

For his new project, which he calls it an “artistically-charged dance event”, he worked with modern technology in a club format. He played the drums while simultaneously scratching on turntables and syncing visuals. Now, he is off to Rajasthan.

“I will work with 16 folk musicians. There will be dhol, khartal and more instruments,” he said about his performance at the upcoming Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF), which will begin on Thursday.

Has he rehearsed with them?

“No. Folk music is about playing, just playing in the simplest form. There are less rules. I have jammed with some of the Rajasthani musicians in Australia. I understand Rajasthani music and I love it.”

Are there any other collaborations with Indian artistes?

“I had collaborated with (singer) Shubha Mudgal and (tabla player) Aneesh Pradhan years ago. It was amazing. I would like to collaborate with anyone who is doing something beautiful, artistic and thoughtful,” said Walsh, who is based in Byron Bay, Australia.

The 40-year-old is also an inventor. One of his many inventions is the rhythmically triggered cross-fader called the Gravity scratch that allows him to scratch as fast as he can drum. He also uses video mixing to create an abstract visual narrative to his music.

“A lot of things I invent is not hardware, it’s software,” said the artiste, who has also used sensors in his shoes to produce different sounds.

But software means technical glitches as well. And whay happens then?

“It’s one of the worst feelings… To look at a piece of equipment and not knowing what it’s thinking. I have so many equipments that the variable of working and not working are high. If one thing doesn’t work, I move on to the next one or even blackout. Then it’s just me, my voice and the drums,” said Walsh, who has been making music for 20 years.


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