The band members talk about the sound of the sarod in their music and why they prefer to stay fluid.
When singer Siddhant Sarkar watched a video of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy performed on sarod, he envisioned this exotic Indian instrument playing a role in electronic music. He approached Rohan Prasanna, who is trained in sarod, to jam with him and his musician friends. Thus was born the five member group Kitanu in 2017 composed of guitarists Omkar Raghupatruni, drummer Guru Ganapathi and bassist Arman Handa apart from Siddhant and Rohan.
The recently released eponymous three-track EP, according to the group, is a blend of “the folkloric and trippy sound of a sarod with influences from jazz, funk, rock & roll, blues, metal and bossa nova. “.
The first issue “Vacation” leads with the sarod, letting the guitar merge with it before the vocals melt away. The second track, “Pebbles”, is sober in the mood but energetic in its rhythm. The last number ‘Faith’ carries vocals and guitar riffs even as the sarod makes its presence felt; keep you hooked with curiosity about the difference sarod can make here. Said Rohan, “The challenge in using the sarod is to sound good both musically and sonically while simultaneously gelling with Western instruments.”
Although the sarod sets Kitanu apart from other bands and they would like to take advantage of it, the members believe their USP is that each instrument has its role of filling and maintaining the balance. Omkar says, “The sarod is not the focus, the music is; if the music calls for a dazzling sarod solo then we will have to, the same goes for the other instruments. That being said, we realize that sarod is what makes our sound unique and what we would call “our sound”.
A fascination with Indian instruments made Siddhant wonder how “native sounds” would match “conventional Western sounds”. “I used to play with a bhapang player and always wanted to pursue the idea of combining Indian folk instruments to create something new and different. This idea was further reinforced when, on some of my travels, I came across indigenous folk instruments, the uniqueness of their sound blew me away; I just knew it was something I wanted to incorporate into my own music / sound.
Why would anyone want to name their band Kitanu, which means germs in English? Siddhant explains, “In 2017, before the pandemic, one time I got sick and still decided to go to our jam because we all just wanted to get the job done. I thought my band mates would appreciate my determination to show up to a jam despite my illness. However, I ended up coughing a lot throughout the jam and everyone went to another room and left the mic in the jam pad for me. We kept playing but it was a lot of tugging and jokes … as you can imagine all of those jokes eventually led to the name Kitanu who stuck with the band.
The band members feel like they have evolved individually as musicians and they plan to stay fluent in their genre. Siddhant says, “We think when you decide to stick with one genre you limit yourself and we all see our music as an amalgamation of different sounds rather than something specific. “
Kitanu has started to prepare for his next EP and says he has a lot more exciting songs. “It’s going to be a lot more improved in all aspects because this time around we did everything ourselves, including recording and mixing, and we all think we’ve improved a lot now,” said Omkar.