Artistes Nirali Kartik and Kartik Shah are jamming via Skype and recording with fellow musicians living miles away; their band “Maatibaani” takes making world music pretty literally. The ideology of glocalization is deeply rooted in husband and wife Nirali and Kartik, they are immensely inspired by other people and cultures so they consciously and successfully bring different genres together, combining jazz and global folk elements with classical Indian vocals. With an increasing worldwide fan base, Maatibaani is contributing tremendously in showcasing a refreshing side of Indian music.
In translation Maatibaani stands for “Language of the Earth”. The philosophy behind their work can be captured in the Russian term “Khei At”, referring to a place within the heart from which all the music comes from. Next to the universality of music, love – creating a relationship beyond cultures and borders- is also big motivation for the band.
“Even when we record our music, we try to bring this warrior-like spirit to the studio where we just want to unite people and bring nations together with our music”, Nirali shares. “But not by being preachy about it, it shouldn’t be done in a mushy way”, she laughs.
As a classically trained singer, Nirali had been recording more traditional and classical compositions for years, while guitarist Kartik was more active in advertising. It was Kartik who brought up the idea of a world music band, as he loved mixing different genres for the ads he was working on.
“The danger of fusing different styles is that one can get carried away. The music then becomes a bad dish that doesn’t taste good to anyone”, Kartik explains. “But in the end, it’s all about the cook and what he subtracts from all the music genres. For us, it also doesn’t matter if the musicians we work with are street entertainers or acclaimed artists: it’s the music that needs to sound right”.
Maatibaani’s first song “Mitwa” (2012) and their following tracks certainly proved that fusion songs do not have to be strange mixes of global styles. One of their memorable projects was “Balma”, a number about celebrating love, lovers and forgetting various differences.
“We wanted a track with some gypsy and European folk sounds“, says Nirali. For this particular song Maatibaani reached out to eleven artists from several countries including France, New Zealand and Spain. After some jam sessions online on Skype, each musician recorded their part separately with everything coming together in a final song.
Their unique approach did not go unnoticed: through the influential platform TedX the musicians got to present their outlook on crossing borders and cultures with their music. And in the most watched mythological Indian TV show Devon Ke Dev Mahadev we hear parts of “Baawariya” in several episodes. Inspired by the love between the Lord Shiva and his wife Sati. Maatibaani recorded this particular song with American clarinetist and music composer Shankar Tucker who rose to fame since 2011 with online music series The ShrutiBox. For the YouTube FanFest Collabweek in 2014 in Mumbai, Maatibaani joined forces with Indo-Canadian comedian Superwoman Lilly Singh amongst others. “I am huge fan of hers”, smiles Nirali: “Working with her and the other artists went great, especially considering it was finalized within a very short time span of four days”.
Separately, Nirali also has collaborated with music composer Shankar Tucker on the tracks “Ja Ja Re” and “Mero Allah Meherbaan” and “Yaad” for the Indian TV show The Dewarists on MTV India. Meanwhile, Kartik has composed the title track for another Indian television show “Chakravartin Ashoka” and worked on the score of the book “Scion of Iskhvaku” by writer Amish Tripati.
A recent collaboration that really holds a special place for both Nirali and Kartik is “Rang Rangiya” featuring Pakistani singer Komal Rizvi and nine other Indian and Pakistani musicians. The track was written for the Independence Day of both India and Pakistan, and emphasized the need for love and friendship between the two countries.
“We wanted to change the narrative with a more positive sound”, Nirali says. “And everything went so smoothly. All the artist we had reached out we’re happy to join us, with no issues around money or anything like that.” Shah: “The song was also recorded in just a week and that is very quick for a project”, Kartik shares.
The positive attention the song garnered was more than the musicians had expected. “National TV channels and radio stations played the song, which is a huge compliment for us. More than the number alone, I think the message behind it also was something people wanted to hear and see”, says Kartik.
Fans can see and hear Maatibaani soon on the upcoming YouTube FanFest on the 20th of March 2015. The duo is also working on a series of 8 to 10 songs for which they will work together with 60 artists from India and elsewhere. “Right now we’re in the middle of practicing with the other musicians”, says Kartik who can’t reveal anything about the release date.
Maatibaani is working on several new projects and we can’t wait to share them with all of you!