Home Chennai Tete-a-tete with German sitar player, Prem Joshua

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    Prem Joshua, on favourite artists and finding inspiration in nature and slokas

    GERMAN by birth but an Indian by calling, Prem Joshua has been making music since he was 10-years-old. Intrigued by the sounds of Ravi Shankar’s sitar, Joshua left his home in Germany with his mind set on discovering Indian music. Here, he learnt to play the sitar and started fusing Indian music with Western sounds. A week from now, Joshua will be performing in the city, in aid of the Duchess Helping Hands, who will be launching Penn Taxi, an initiative aimed at ensuring safe travel for women. Ahead of his first live performance here, Joshua tells us what drives him the most.

    Finding the core
    “This is not exactly my first time in Chennai,” shares Joshua, as he has played at private shows earlier. But he admits that he is looking forward to his first public performance here, as he feels that’s where people “listen more.” His band will be accompanying him and they are all upbeat about their next album, Kashi, slated to release in August. “I have 16 albums out. The earlier ones were instrumentals and then I introduced lyrics. Kashi is an excursion into song. There is a lot of vocals, most of which are based on famous slokas,” shares Joshua, who is currently at his studio in Goa. “This is the time of the year when I have the time to concentrate on writing music,” he says. “I compose music with the sitar. From there it evolves. When you listen to my tracks and strip all the Western sounds, you will notice that it is raga-based. That is the very core—always,” he adds, pointing out that it is necessary to be in touch with nature. “I am sitting under a tree right now,” he chuckles. “Nature gives you a meditative energy and this is important for music.”

    Pressed for time
    Already a master of several instruments, Joshua says that there are many more such as the nagaswaram, the Afghan rabab or the piano that he wishes to learn. “But I am deliberately not touching them to avoid distraction,” he says. “In concert I sing, I play the sitar, the bamboo flute and the soprano saxophone.” Why restrict himself to this, we ask. “Because I have enough trouble with four already,” he laughs. “All these instruments have to travel with us to different airports,” explains Joshua, who lists John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin and Mozart among his favourite artistes. But what about Ravi Shankar? “I owe him much respect because his music brought me to India. But his style is not my favourite. Nikhil Banerjee is my favourite sitar player,” he concludes.

    Catch Prem Joshua on June 19, from 8 pm at Savera Hotel. Donor passes at Rs. 2,000 per person. Details: 9841082652

    -Ryan Peppin

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