Lukas Mantel on Carnatic fusion, playing teacher and desired collabs
HE MAY be new to the city, but Lukas Mantel has already garnered a following here. He is one of the many expats who are performing during the Margazhi season. Having come here from Switzerland to take part in Swiss Art Council’s projects in the country, under the initiative of Pro Helvetia, the suave drummer just finished a workshop for beginners yesterday, where he taught participants how to improvise on their drum kits. Here in the country till Sunday, Lukas is trying to make the most of the remaining time here. “I am in the middle of recording some audio that I came up with recently with some Carnatic musicians,” he says, in a chat over the phone.
Lukas specialises in translating Carnatic sounds onto his drum kit, especially konakkol (Tamil percussion syllables). “It becomes tough when I perform alongside Carnatic musicians on stage, because most of them sit cross-legged, and I obviously don’t,” he says, with a laugh. To counter the problem, he re-arranges his bass drum in a way that makes it easier for him. “I either bring my old ’60s drum kit if I am required to play loud, or else I stick to a newer Ludwig,” he says.
Here, at the Western Academy of Music, where he has got space to practice and conduct the workshop, there are two drum kits—an acoustic and an electronic one. “Besides basic introduction to drumming, I also talked about its history as well as demonstrated my method of playing Carnatic music on drums. It was a goodwill gesture towards the Academy,” he says. He further reveals his intention to perform with Carnatic musicians like Sundar Kumar and Ghatam Karthick. “I personally prefer to work with mridangam sounds,” he says. As his time in India comes to a close, he reveals his agenda for the next week—a workshop in Switzerland,
followed by another in China.