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Gig Review :: Soulscapes by Kaya :: The B Flat Bar, Bangalore, July 13th 2012


It was Blues-Booze-Dews all night long. Kaya, a Soul, Blues and Pop Rock Band got the audience pumping at The B Flat Bar, Bangalore, with classic covers of  Stevie wonder, Morcheeba, Adele and many more…


More than words can prove veritably dulcet to the ear. And no, I’m not talking about Extreme here; it’s what comes out when you tap your foot to a classy blues mélange of just drum beats, piano rhythms and of course, the strums of the base and guitar. The first 20 odd minutes got through everyone’s head as the quadruplets spoke music only through their weapons.


Kaya is an umbrella name for all of Arati Rao’s projects. Friday the 13th, witnessed Soulscapes by Kaya, a mixed bag of Soul and Blues classic with a touch of Pop and Rock just for fun. KAYA rolled in a 4-part vocal section with 2 female leads, Arati Rao and Avril Unger, both on vocals. The instrumentalists were Arjun Chandran on the guitar, Aman Mahajan on keyboards, Venkat Subramaniyam on bass and Joe Panicker on drums, all of whom contributed their vocals too. 

The men wrapped up with their instrumental melody with of course, the music maniacs lavishing them with eulogy and glorification, the ladies hit the stage to take on the microphones, just to let electricity play foul.

Running on generator power, technical glitches were to come. It was arrantly worth the quite long wait to see Arati, in all her boldness in voice and appearance, sing to a cover of Adele’s “Rumor has it”. Going with the original version, they varied to a much softer solo of Arati in the second half of the song. She definitely melted hearts, and yet we ain’t cold no more. Like all good things come to quite a tragic end, another round of power loss on stage was certainly not the perfect end to that ball buster of a rendition.

Antsyness was the air till the next song gave the audience impulse, “I Can’t Stand the Rain” a classic by Tina Turner, was thus the most befitting track on the list for the moment. Thanks to the good Lord of music, power glitches were no more in store. The Band mates rendered vocals of varying ranges for all the cover songs played through the evening, Morcheeba’s “Let Me See”, Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and “Something To Talk About”, all in top notch class.

There exists a band for over 50 years. It definitely wouldn’t account as an exaggerated remark if we claim that this band revolutionized the world of blues. Of course, Rolling Stones, it is. Venkat Subramaniyam, the Kaya Guitarist, took over the lead, and rendered an absolute classic cover of the legendary band. Venky’s vocals and strumming was exemplary and nonpareil: I bet his staging had all hailing at him from the very start of his performance.

Arati Rao, the lead singer of the band and  the co-owner of The B Flat Bar, speaks to us:

To find teens among the crowd was quite a task. How do you relate the Bangalore youth and Classic Blues?

B Flat is known for a more matured audience. Out of the various reasons I could state for this, one of it is that we tagged the gig as “Soulscape”. Soul has its own space, that doesn’t attract too many kids as much as it satisfies the adults. You need to know and love Etta James, Aretha Franklin to even attend a concert like this. Probably, if we’d named it only Blues, it would have attracted audience of all ages, considering that Bangalore, is a Blues loving city, clearly proved by the number of Blues-based bands the city proudly hosts. The audience at B Flat would differ from that of Counter Culture and Legends of Rock,more youth populated crowds. It’s just about our positioning: It’s always has been that way.

Kaya. Something more about the band.

It’s a 10 year old band that started its journey in 2002. It has taken a couple of different forms in terms of the musicians I’ve worked with. The lineup has definitely changed, but today I feel safe to say I have my own core group, regardless of the genre, bet it Blues, Jazz or own scores. Kaya Quintet and Kaya Quartet are the 2 Jazz based projects. We deliver different concerts to different audiences, based on where the gig is and what the occasion is.

What’s the scene with albums and recordings?

Our performance on Friday had all cover songs. This is solely for live audiences and varied entertainment purposes. I’ve been working on lyrics and compositions for over 2 years now and we’re almost half way through. We will be presenting our own compositions soon enough. But we’re more likely to perform before we record because I’m essentially a live performer; I want to reach my audience and continue to do so.

In most cases, music enthusiasts connect better to cover songs over own compositions. What’s your take on it?

At B flat I wouldn’t say that. This place is the perfect platform for bands to play indigenous original music. My gig that night was an exception: literally in 3 and half years of our existence, we’ve done only about 5-6 cover gigs including mine, here at B Flat. As far as the perspective of the audience is concerned, they have proved to be equally receptive to both. It’s true that they’re more comfortable with cover songs as they feel that place belongs to them. I love the fact that we have a regular audience every Friday night, who come in with high expectations, regardless of any information about the band hitting the stage that night.

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