Guru's interview with RadioOne's Teejay Sidhu
Teejay: Okay let’s get to our main artist of the week… let’s get him close to the mic and to you...it’s Guru Vasist! And we’re going to talk about the new album of his, it’s titled Rise 8 Times.. and about the man himself. Guru.. welcome to RadioOne!
GV: Hi Teejay… it’s great to be back in India
Teejay: It’s great to meet up with you… now your bio says that you have been brought up not just in India but by the whole world… tell us, what’s your back story
GV: Well listen in the last few years, I’ve decided to spend a lot more time writing songs and recording songs… I finally came out with an album a couple of months ago… I’m really excited about it… so you know during the day I do some pretty advanced technologies… I work with things like artificial intelligence… but during the night and during the weekends I write these songs… so, it’s a very interesting combination of different kinds of styles of music from different parts of the world… very diverse kinds of ideas… so I’ve been having a lot of fun writing these songs!
Teejay: Artificial intelligence by day and music by night… wow! That’s a first for my show… and it’s all very intriguing.. Please, tell us more…
GV: Well, like I said, while I do a lot of advanced technologies during the day, at night I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of great musicians… in fact, my whole life I’ve been surrounded by musicians of different kinds… so I take all of those influences and I’ve been traveling a lot around the world… I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great friends around the world… and when I see something that kind of hits me emotionally, I you know I write a song about it!
Teejay: I’m sure everybody is interested in what your music sounds like… since I’ve never played anything from you before… I’m quite excited to play a track of yours tonight… I kinda like this particular one myself… so, I’m going to start sampling your album rise 8 times with this tune… this is indie thursday and I’m teejay Sidhu…
Teejay: Let's get back to Guru Vasist who's my main man in the studio tonight...he's got a new album out called rise eight times which I highly recommend...okay, so rise eight times as a title... it's a little intriguing tell us a bit more about that
GV: you know one of the first things that happened a few years ago... that really got me to writing songs... is that I saw the the devastation of a huge tsunami in the northern part of Japan...and this was one of the one of the biggest that was ever recorded… and it just completely destroyed the town...and it it actually destroyed a nuclear reactor outside the town as well… it caused a huge amount of havoc. So, you know, I had some friends in the area... and when I saw the pictures... and I saw the lives of all of these people destroyed, it hit me so hard.... I decided that I would start writing a song about that story. The great thing about Japan is that they...you know... they always come back from any kind of tragedy, or any kind of disaster. So that was kind of the inspiration for my first song… they may fall seven times, but they rise eight times.
GV: And from there, you know I've been on a journey...going to different countries... in South Africa I have a song from there... and then Syria...you know it's been a horrible war going on there... I wrote one of my songs about that. Then Brazil… I spent a lot of time in Brazil. And you know I have a song about the carnival in Rio de Janeiro. And so you know...experiencing all of these cultures... and many different events….I've been fortunate to be able to write about them and put some music behind it.
Teejay: Okay! So this is the title song now... this one is called rise eight times of course... in case you just tuned in, the name of the very awesome artist with me is Guru Vasist… and this is what that track sounds like.
Teejay: Okay... we have not spoken to our special guest for quite some time... now it's time to get our attention back to him… in case you just tuned in, I'm in conversation with Guru Vasist...yes, that's his name... he’s here to promote his new album titled rise eight times. Okay...now the written description of the album suggests a blend of Indian Carnatic, Brasilian vibes and even American jazz not to mention some Eastern European influences… let’s talk about that aspect...
GV: I was trained as a carnatic musician here in India a long time ago... so I used to sing and play flute and violin and all of that... so that's sort of been my base for a very long time... but more recently I've been playing a lot of jazz in New York... I had my own band for a little bit... I played guitar with a bunch of musicians in the in the New York City area… and when I went to Brazil I really got very interested in their style of music in Brazil called “choro”... it’s their old style… and also their later styles like samba and bossa nova and those kinds of things...those are fascinating styles of music for me… and my wife is from Eastern Europe from the Balkan area...so I hear a lot of, you know, different kinds of rhythms and musical styles from Eastern Europe and the middle east… and so I’ve kind of mixed all of these things in… you know the Indian, the American stuff, the south American Brazilian stuff, and the Balkan stuff...and hopefully you'll hear some influences from all of these different styles in my songs...
Teejay: wow that sounds totally cool... I mean that's a lot of different styles to play around with... I love the way you've mixed up your sound… it’s so cool... now is there any other song that's close to your heart or maybe a tune that you want us to play?
GV: I will talk about this song called “street carnival”... a few years ago my wife and I went to Brazil and we celebrated the carnival which happens around February / March timeframe... in fact it’s happening right now... happened a couple weeks ago….and you know it's a big party...there's a lot of these samba schools they call them... and they practice and they prepare these big floats they call them... with costumes and all... and they have stories behind them... it's very very colorful... they have something called ‘sambadrome’ which is where they do the parade... and all of the schools compete with each other and they do it all night long... I mean we started the party at about eight or nine o'clock at night and the party went until six o'clock in the morning…. and there were these parades happening one after the other with new music composed... lot of colors, lot of stories… it was just fascinating... and so when I experienced that, I said I have to write a song about the feeling of this...except what I decided to, you know, coming from this modern world of electronic music and all of that stuff, I said I'm gonna take influences from Indian music... I'm gonna take influences from electronic dance music... and combine all of those things into this song called street carnival... which hopefully you'll listen and appreciate all the different elements of...
Teejay: That is a perfect choice for a song...and here he is... Guru Vasist, that is the name of the artist...rise eight times, the name of the album and... street carnival, that's the name of the track
Teejay: Right now we're getting back to the last leg of our conversation with special guest Guru Vasist... he's here to promote his new album Rise 8 Times...
Teejay: Okay Guru, you have put out a great sound in the songs we've heard so far... tell us a bit about your band, you back up, and all that fun stuff...
GV: TJ...I'm really fortunate to have Randy Klein from JazzHeads as the producer of this album... he has taken me through this whole journey for creating an album...and he also plays piano on this album. I also have Leo Traversa who plays bass...he is a well-known bass player in the New York City music scene. And I have some top-notch New York musicians like Bruce Arnold on guitars...Ben Witman on drums… Nitin Mitta on Tabla. We also have two clarinet players -- Jay and Vasko -- one of whom also played Sax on one of the tunes. And I have some really great jazz singers Elizabeth, Melissa, and Roshni who have provided their voices for background vocals. I've been really lucky to have this tremendous group...so thanks to all of them… I think we've ended up with a great album because of them...
Teejay: Finally, tell us how we can get our greedy little hands on your music
GV: Well, the best is of course to go to my website guruvasist.com. You can also find my album on iTunes, Amazon, all the streaming sites, and of course you can get it on YouTube as well….look under Guru Vasist
Teejay: There you go…. thank you so much for dropping by, Guru… we will be spinning your music a lot more… you’ve impressed me a lot, by the way... that's always a good sign.. LOL... we wish you all the best!
GV: TJ, thank you very much it was great to be here!
Teejay: And that's it from Guru Vasist, our special guest for this edition of Indie Thursday, and let’s get on with the music now.. again, this is Guru Vasist!