Indian Ocean biography
There are three bands called Indian Ocean, including Arthur Russell recording under this moniker. Most popular among which is the contemporary fusion music band from Northern India. Some music critics describe the Indian Ocean music as "Indo-rock fusion with jazz-spiced rhythms that integrates sufism, shlokas, environmentalism, mythology and revolution".
Beginnings - Indian Ocean
The band had its genesis in 1990 when Susmit Sen met Asheem Chakravarty and their somewhat focused jamming sessions resulted in a few concerts. Susmit was on the guitar and Asheem on tabla and drums with no vocalist. In 1990, with Shaleen Sharma on drums, they recorded their first demo. In 1991, Rahul Ram, a schoolmate of Susmit's joined the band on bass. After a lot of persuasion, and on the strength of the demo tape, HMV agreed to record Indian Ocean's first album in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). It took another year for it to be. In the first five years of the band's existence they played exactly four concerts. Shaleen, the drummer, left the band in March, 1994. In his place came Amit Kilam, just out of his teens and still doing college exams.
Vocals were then added, Susmit and Asheem left their jobs and had kids. Music became their only source of income - when not playing concerts, they odd-jobbed on music for television serials, advertisements and documentaries.
On New Year's Eve, 1997, they played at Mandi House in Delhi. The crowd gave Indian Ocean an overwhelming response and soon after, their next album had happened. A recording of the show was released a couple of months later by a company called Independent Music which was formed only to release the album - Desert Rain.
Susmit, Amit and Rahul played a concert with violin player Dr. L. Subramaniam while Asheem played in a concert with American folk singer Pete Seeger. The whole band also had the privilege of jamming with renowned Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino in Delhi, and played with some great Japanese jazz musicians during their Japanese tour in 2002. Rahul and Amit had the chance of performing on stage with renowned percussionists Vikoo Vinayakram and his son Selva Ganesh at Almora in 2003.
The band went on the road - playing gigs in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra. The break though into the mainstream came some time in late 1998 when Times Music (a division of Times of India) signed up the band. A few months later, Indian Ocean were invited to play at the Millennium celebrations at Khajuraho. K. R. Narayanan, then President of India, was one of the first people to hear the special composition, which is one of the high points of their album, Kandisa.
The album was released in March 2000 and went on to become one of the best-loved albums produced in India. Kandisa acquired cult status and propelled Indian Ocean into the status of one of India’s most original and creative band. The band left Indian shores for the first time ever in August 2001. They played their first concert abroad in London, and then went on to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where they played 18 concerts in 14 days, and were nominated the Pick of the Fringe. They returned to the Fringe in 2002 and 2003. In 2002, the band played 37 concerts abroad across four continents: New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Indonesia. In 2003 they toured the UK twice, as well as Australia, Germany, Singapore, and Réunion. In addition, they continued to play all over India.
Jhini, the fourth album, was recorded at Kosmic Studios in Varadeipalyam, Andhra Pradesh, in the midst of fields and hills, a hundred kilometres north of Chennai. The album was released in May 2003, and the band had their first video made, were MTV Artists of the Month. They then went to compose music for their first major full-length feature film in early 2004: Black Friday, released in January 2005, is based on the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
Susmit has virtually invented a new style of playing the guitar, an uncannily Indian sound where purity of scale reigns, strong melodic lines woven around the drone of open strings. His guitar style forms the basis of Indian Ocean's unique sound.
Asheem Chakravarty (tabla, percussions & vocals) (1957-2009)
Asheem showed his rhythmic spark at an extremely early age, amazing musicians who learnt that he never had any formal training. Asheem Chakravarty passed away on 25th December 2009 in Delhi.
Amit Kilam (drums)
Amit’s drumming is a strange balance between the conventional and non-conventional. Largely self-taught, he believes in layering rhythm rather than a heavy drum layer, since he believes in simplicity, not technical wizardry, thus becoming the backbone of the solid sound that the band has. He incorporates Indian rhythms into his drumming in a unique fashion, moving in cycles of 8, 10, 12 14, 16, rather than simple 4/4 or ¾ styles. Not a “psychotic drummer”, he goes easy on the skins, yet his playing is very dynamic. Was introduced to music at the age of 4 by his parents, learning the guitar (hawain - Indian classical). He is an instinctive musician, picking up several instruments very easily, and he sings also. Loves listening to various kinds of music – Hindi filmi, rock, pop – favorites are A R Rahman, Trilok Gurtu and Deep Purple.
Rahul Ram (bass guitar and vocals)
His experiences as an activist/supporter with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (1990-1995) and while doing his PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University (New York) (1986-90) have strongly influenced his musical expression.
* Indian Ocean (1993)
* Desert Rain (1997)- Desert rain, Euphoria, Going to ITO, Village Damsel, From the ruins, Boll weevil, Melancholic ecstasy
* Kandisa (2000) - Kya Maloom, Ma Rewa, Leaving Home, Hille Re, Khajuraho, Kaun, Kandisa
* Jhini (2004) - Bhor, Jhini, Des Mera, After the war, Nam ya ho, Let me speak, Torrent
New Movie "Leaving Home" describes journey of band.