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Chennai band Staccato to play at London Olympics

Last updated on: June 30, 2012 18:20 IST

Chennai band Staccato to play at London Olympics

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Shobha Warrier

It wasn't a dream come true for the young members of the Chennai based band, Staccato to be playing at the Olympics, for they never ever dreamt that the day would come.

But reality is that Staccato has been chosen from 10,000 entries around the world and they are the only band other than one from China that has been chosen by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) headed by Danny Boyle.

Staccato has been selected to perform at the Olympic Park on July 30 and August 2.


Image: Band Staccato players with their friends
Photographs: Photo courtesy: Staccato

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It was Kaashif Rafiq, the 17-year-old youngest member of the band who sent a few tracks to the selection committee. In fact, the other members were unaware of what Kaashif, who incidentally is AR Rahman's nephew and the keyboard player of the band, had done.

"My dad told me about this and I sent an application with a few samples of our tracks. That was four months ago. I was hopeful of getting selected as our tracks have global appeal with Indian, Carnatic and Arabic flavour in our music," Kaashif said.

Kaashif had sent two of Staccato's songs, Sounds Of Air and Salsa, and also a set of sample tapes that included percussion grooves. And no, Kaashif did not consult his famous uncle on which tracks to send.

"I wanted to achieve something on our own merit. So, only after the confirmation came, did I tell him the news. We plan to send a video of our rehearsals to him before going to London."

When the confirmed invitation came three weeks ago, Kaashif was elated but other band members thought it was a spam mail and did not react at all to the mail for two days.


Image: Kaashif Rafiq
Photographs: Photo courtesy: Staccato

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Chennai band Staccato to play at London Olympics

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How can we believe that a young band like ours will get to perform at such a huge and prestigious event?" Vandana, the vocalist of the band remarked. Vandana had joined the band three years ago when the band was looking for a female voice. She is also a playback singer in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada.

"We have friends in London and we confirmed the news by asking them to check the authenticity of the mail, and only after that, all of us felt really excited," says Ajay Gnanasekharan, the band's manager and also the percussionist of the band. "All of us are very excited as we are getting a chance to perform on a global platform."

"Most of our compositions have Indian flavour with interludes of world music. while In Sounds of Air, flute Sruthi Sagar plays is Carnatic music but the interludes are Arabic, rap, etc. Salsa, a product of our interaction with musicians from across the world during our visit to Rio de Janeiro, is dominated by violin. So, listeners from all over the world could relate to our music," said Vikram Sarathy, the co-founder and composer of the band.

Staccato originated as a school band when Vikram joined hands with his classmates Sruthi Sagar and Balasubramanyam because of their passion for music. Earlier, they were a part of another school band which had music composer GV Prakash Kumar as one of the members. Vikram recollects, "None of us who started the band are from a family of musicians.


Image: Vandana and Sabarish Shankar
Photographs: Photo courtesy: Staccato

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Chennai band Staccato to play at London Olympics

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We are first generation musicians. We were all part of a school band but when the seniors from the band like GV Prakash Kumar passed out of school, we decided to form our own band. That was how Staccato came into existence. The only thing we wanted to do at that time was play music. We had no other dreams." That is why the band has been together for more than a decade.

Today, the young band that has members in the age group of 17-24 has scored the music for the film Thinapayanam that was featured at the Norway Film Festival. It also won the band the best score award at the Paris Film Festival. Last year the boy members of Staccato  represented India at the World Finals of Tum Tum Pa, an innovative percussion event organized by Red Bull in Brazil. Staccato was placed in the top ten in Brazil.

The second international performance, of course will be at the Olympics. After the Olympics, they have also been invited to perform at the Aberdeen Music Festival and the Greenwich Music Festival.

As the Manager, Ajay plans to have a lot of songs with desi flavour when they perform at the Olympics. "Our strength is the contemporary treatment we give to Indian ragas and talas. We will have our own compositions which are both instrumental and vocal. We will also be singing a lot of AR Rahman and Ilayaraja songs there. And definitely, Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. We want all our songs to have true Indian flavour. We want to give a pot-pourri of songs in all Indian languages and also plan an impromptu session on stage. "

The band will have 15 members for the London tour- Vikram Sarathy, Ajay Gnanasekaran, Sruthi Saagar, Vandana Srinivasan, Rohit Krishnamoorthy, Balasubramanian, Tapas Naresh, Shallu Varun,  Aishwarya Suresh, Manoj Kumar  and Kaashif Rafiq.


Image: Sathyanarayanan and Manoj Kumar
Photographs: Photo courtesy: Staccato

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The only thing that worries the band is getting sponsors so that they can make the trip. "We are keeping our fingers crossed about getting the sponsors," says Vandana. But that has not deterred the band from practising full throttle for the event.

"We plan to go there ready with at least 35 songs as we have been given four slots of 40 minutes each. We play a lot of traditional music in contemporary style in our shows. Similarly, we will play Indian folk music arranged differently. So, we will have other than Indian film music, international favourites and traditional Indian music in contemporary style."

Vikram concludes, "For a young band like ours, this will be a great experience as we would be meeting musicians from all over the world and also listening to their music. It will be a once in a life opportunity. It is also a great responsibility as we represent a country that has given birth to world renowned great musicians like Zakir Hussain, Pandit Ravi Shankar, AR Rahman, etc. We have to meet the expectations from a band from India. "


Image: Members of Band Staccato
Photographs: Photo courtesy: Staccato

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