Band of the month: Oorali

Band of the month: Oorali

What was the idea behind your band?

The band was crated initially to score the background for a theatre production called Odichodichu- a bus drama. It was staged on a bus re engineered into a performing space.It was an attempt made never before in Indian theatre, to stage a play in a bus with the bus as a character.It was a novel attempt to take art to the people and there were a lot of social realities portrayed in the script and the song. The production could only carry on for 5 performances but the songs became popular and the band , Oorali progressed  along performing. Then the band changed it texture many a time since 2013 and right now, after 5 years and more than 500 odd performances across India Oorali we are an 7 member ensemble including musicians actors and visual artistes.

You are known to make music based on social satires. How has your music been received so far and what were the challenges you initially faced to get your music across to people?

As any journey it was not an easy beginning. But we never intended to be a band as I said earlier. We just kept going along experimenting with how we sounded, how we looked on stage, added songs along the way and were inspired by the relevance and acceptance of our music . Life is a never ending struggle and art is our way of coping with it and belonging in this universe. There are issues we come across every day as human beings and our songs reflect them.

Making music on social issues, were you criticised or been under any sort of pressure initially?

There has always been criticism and will be. But there are so many fans out there who are energized and inspired by the material we churn out. We always take the feedback accept what we feel is true, work on it and keep on practicing. There is always pressure whether we are doing the right thing. But we stick to our research and work with the facts to make things better.

You guys perform in different languages too. How did you break the language barrier initially?

We are from Kerala and we speak Malayalam. Tamil is familiar and most Malayalis are good with English. Martin our vocalist, was in Latin America for about a decade performing and teaching theatre. So Spanish is kind of our second language. Music is the language of the world and there was never a language divide, atleast for us. All languages are human after all.

You were into bus performances too. What happened with regards to that?

Not were, we still are into it. Now Oorali regularly performs in the bus and always travels in it. It is called Express. Express was a bus before, but not anymore. It doesn’t ferry people across destinations now. It now doesn’t keep the regular time but abides by Oorali time. Ooralis had found express just in time, just before it was about to be sent for scrapping after 12 years of running as a public transport vehicle.

Re engineered into a performing space by the effort of multiple artists, now it’s a fully functional performing and exhibition space. An art bus that can take experiences to people has seen many ups and downs, been with us through thick and thin and is an integral part of all Oorali undertakings. It’s a machine that has stories to tell and it has to be seen to be believed.

Could you tell us a little bit about your music tech set up

We use a Drum kit, percussions like djembe, cajon, bongos and many latin american instruments,pre columbian clay pipes, pipes and many sounds from around the world .We use a bass guitar, and 2 acoustic guitars, one classic and one steel string and all of us sing apart from the bassie.

Are there any collaborations in the pipeline that you can talk about?

We always collaborate with a lot of artistes, but most of them from the literary and visual areas in Kerala.. There are also lot of musicians and theatre people from Latin America and Europe we work with during work shops and experiential sessions.We also work in movies.

Tell us about your upcoming projects

We are working with Kochin Muziris Biennale 2018 and continuing the post flood journey that we began after he devastating floods that hit Kerala this year. We began by creating community art across experience in affected areas and now we are extending with the support of Bienalle to the coastal Kerala and the fisher folk who did a major chunk of the rescue operations and saved innumerable lives.

Your message to upcoming artists in your space.

The truth will set you free.

Rapid Fire

Best performance till date

The last one.

Artist you would love to collaborate with

Many, Radiohead is now in my mind.

If not music, what would you guys be doing?

Art, definitely.

Describe your work in one word

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