• Wed, Oct 23, 2019

Know Your Artist: Shrilektric (Featuring Lord K.I.M.O.)

interviews Nov 16, 02:46pm

One of the most adventurous acts to be part of this November’s India Music Week lineup is Shrilektric. First appearing in 2011, it is an exciting…


One of the most adventurous acts to be part of this November’s India Music Week lineup is Shrilektric. First appearing in 2011, it is an exciting prospect due to the knitting together of diverse sounds and instruments that it represents. Basically a live project, it is “creating music onstage from scratch”, according to Shrikanth Sriram, the man who puts the Shri in Shrilektric.
Shri conceived of the idea of merging computed, electronic, electric, and acoustic music, and he had the skills to see it through. He is the flautist, percussionist, bassist, producer, everything. A one-man-band, if you will. The Britain-based multi-instrumentalist has been around the block a few times to say the least, with his first album release dating all the way back to 1997. Seventeen albums, several collaborations, and constant musical evolution were to follow.  In his most recent musical expedition with Shrilektric, he takes the stage either solo as the multi-instrumentalist that he is or with collaborators, which range from Indian folk percussionists to beat boxers.  Shri aims for his project to sound like electronic music without the computer generating all the music.  Boasting of electronic music, drum ‘n’ bass, and Indian melodies, it seems like a formidable task for the personnel involved, but not for the listener. It is actually highly accessible and listener-friendly, with a touch of ‘feel good’.

At the India Music Week, the complexion of Shrilektric’s performance can be expected to be quite different from before as Shri will take the stage with dub/hip-hop vocalist, Lord K.I.M.O. Emerging from the UK dub scene, Lord K.I.M.O. was formerly a part of the well-known collective Asian Dub Foundation.  He went on to form Lords of Frequency and has worked with the likes of Sean Paul and Public Enemy. With powerful vocals and great energy on stage, he is a captivating performer. It’s difficult to predict exactly how he will alter the Shrilektric dynamic, however it’s easy to predict that it will be for the better.

In Conversation with Shri

RSJ: When creating something which is a blend of Western and Indian sensibilities, where do you strike the balance? What is the dominant element is your style?

Shri: I do not actually blend sensibilities. To explain myself – I have actually spent a lot of time in each of these [styles of] music, and a long time ago, started hearing tracks in my head that were from both sources at the same time. Thus, it was like creating a new vocabulary for myself. The closest example to this is Indian Hinglish. It a new vocabulary where it is really difficult to pick out where the English ends and the Hindi begins in some parts. 

RSJ: You wear many different hats when it comes to your music. How difficult is it to juggle being a bassist, a flautist, a singer, a producer, and a band leader all at once?

Shri: Well, you just said it. I wear different hats…not all at the same time. even if it happens in the same moment I am very rapidly changing hats. Each of these disciplines needs focus and I try to give it the maximum every time. I succeed most of the time!

RSJ: Do you think in this age of the digital, rampant use of sequencers, sampling, and computer-generated rhythms take away from the "authenticity" of sound?

Shri: Every age has the very same debate. This was the same for when modern classical composers or rock and roll or jazz or drum and bass came on to the scene. Authenticity is only taken away by those who are played by their machines instead of knowing how to play them. I have heard plenty of amazingly authentic music made on computers and samplers which can be likened to the level and quality of Mozart or Bach! A fast car can kill a bad driver, but if you know how to control it, then you can win races.

RSJ: Your bass is unique. What's the story behind it?

Shri: My 3 standard answers are:

1) I could not afford to buy the bass of my dreams. At that time it was a Fender Jazz bass. 

2) I like making things. I had made an electric guitar just before that, realized this was not the instrument for me, and gave it away. Then I made the bass. 

3) I really wanted an instrument that would complement all my different styles and techniques. The bass had to be narrow in the middle to play with a bow, and also of a certain tone to play percussion etc. 

Of course, I did not imagine it to become iconic in any way; it seems to be more famous than me. I think I need to have a strong chat with the Shribass. 

RSJ: To what degree are you prepared when you take the stage and to what degree is the performance an improvisation?

Shri: Depends on the gig. If it’s a festival style gig, I am more prepared, and on a club style gig, a bit less. But in both cases, I try and prepare a lot. Now this could also mean just preparing my mind, or thinking of tracks or knowing what exactly I will do at certain key moments. So in general, the gig is a skeleton of very specific key moments and then fleshed out by the vibe and improvisation on stage.

RSJ:How do you plan to incorporate Lord K.I.M.O. into your kind of musical atmosphere?

Shri: Well, I will create all the musical mayhem and he will create all the verbal mayhem! Simple eh? 

Learn more about artists performing at the India Music Week at www.indiamusicweek.com

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