Meet Amrit Rao. Singer, songwriter and the frontman of the Bangalore based band Live Banned, who today are one of the most entertaining bands in the indie scene. Live Banned is all about satirizing and spoofing popular tunes and giving their audiences a good time. But what makes this band such a success is Amrit, who isn’t just a versatile vocalist but is also a confident and an almost effortless performer on-stage. He believes in constantly combining his love for music and the need to entertain his audiences.
He moved to Bangalore in the year 2000 to pursue a engineering degree in Computer Science, and soon after moved into the corporate world. With a desire to revive his love and passion for music, he quit his job after a few years and decided to become a musician. He's come a long way since, so we decided to have a little chat with him and get to know a little more about Live Banned and his journey in music so far.
1. You are one of the best front men in the Indie scene today. What makes you such a confident performer?
I think it's the brand of music that we play which made me a confident and an energetic performer. I had taken a short break from live music and was between bands. I guess I had missed the stage too much and the high I got being back on stage stayed. I love entertaining people.
2. How did the concept of Live Banned come together? Was the audience’s receptivity at the beginning a concern?
The idea was to mix South Indian film music, Bollywood and cheesy songs with Rock, metal and other genres because no one had done it. The concept was simple; entertainment. We wanted to have fun and not care about anything else. That translated into something totally whacky. We knew it was a big risk. We were confident it would be received well because it was popular music but presented differently.
3. You’ve worked on a Tamil Album and also tried your hands at composing for ad films, some regional films etc. Tell us a little about some of your most interesting projects.
I'm very proud of my debut album in Tamil, 'Nirangal', because it had a diverse sound and the right balance between mainstream and underground music. But unfortunately it wasn't marketed well. I'm planning to re-brand and push the album again. I'm currently working on a couple of Tamil films and looking to do more. Other interesting projects include the Chennaiyin FC football anthem which I composed and sang for, playback for Prashant Pillai and a song I've composed for a Kannada film.
4. What have been your biggest musical influences? How do they impact your compositions today?
My biggest influence has been Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree but musically you won't be able to see their influence on my commercial projects. I guess my inspiration is like going to a buffet spread; I take a bit of everything. The sound of Indian classical music, especially Carnatic music has always been my biggest influence along with Ilayaraja and AR Rahman's music.
5. What according to you is key for an indie artist or band to survive today?
A good eye for music business and a good ear for music that's different and commercially viable. People might say that an independent musician should not bring the 'commercial' factor in to it, but it's not true at all. You need to, if you want to survive and make money through what you love. Belief, confidence, perseverance and drive; you have to be at it. All the time.
6. Who are the top 3 Indie artists/bands you are currently listening to?
Parvaaz, Skrat and Pangea.
7. What are your plans for 2015? What can we expect to look forward to?
Film music, Live Banned bigger and better, and my solo live project along with my musician friends.
8. When and where can we catch you live next?
We would make those announcements soon. At the moment, most shows are private ones. We could be playing in Bombay, Pune and Chennai soon.
Follow and know more about Amrit and his music here:
Website - http://www.amritrao.in/about.html
Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/livebanned
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