Indian fusion music first appeared in the 1960s, with the introduction of rock to Indian music. Now, in 2017, the current trend is to mix in some bhangra beats with western music. In this whirlwind of contemporary pop culture, Indian Classical music has started to slip away from the minds of people as they have started to relate to it less. In this scenario, IndianRaga, founded by Sriram Emani and Anasuya Mandal in 2012, has found itself a global audience with their fusion productions of Indian Classical music and contemporary Western music.
Over time, they became more of an ‘ecosystem’ of musicians and dancers who collaborated to create works of art—blending Western and Indian influences. The word ‘ecosystem’ is used to describe IndianRaga because they currently have more than 110 IndianRaga Fellows (advanced performers) across 60 cities in the world, and have engaged with more than 3000 artists through Raga Labs, a space where artists from the same city can create music without travelling annually. “Anywhere you go in the world, you are not too far from an IndianRaga experience, and can connect with hubs of IndianRaga artists to pursue a creative project or collaboration,” he said.
Getting to where they are now though, was not an easy journey! The classical arts sector is unconventional and risky, for both the entrepreneur and the investor. As IndianRaga was the first of its kind, there was no prior experience to draw from, either. Forging their own path, they decided to offer quality experiences, and over the years, people became increasingly engaged with IndianRaga, seeing the value and detail in their packages.
Emani was inspired since he was a young man, “While hanging out with friends over dinner, we would play a variety of music on YouTube—from Coke Studio to regular pop. Yet, classical music was never a part of the mix, as it changed our energy levels or moods. I found that there weren’t many ‘light-hearted’ versions of classical music, that would appeal to individuals from different cultures, which is what led us to where we are today.”
Take a look at the IndianRaga’s version of Shape of You, remixed to the notes of the Abheri Raga:
Playing a maestro’s chhota-khyal after a groovy reggaeton hit did justice to neither the classical genre nor the evening. “I wanted to have some palatable, fun pieces that would instantly vibe with millions of global audiences and make our classical arts a part of these conversations and evening hangouts. So picking songs that had already carved a space in the hearts of millions of people, and adding raga-based improvizations to it felt like I was bringing two interesting worlds and audiences together,” he explained.
The popular raga Ananda Bhairavi is structured around EDM in this video:
IndianRaga has also won the MIT Ideas Global Challenge! While pitching forth their proposal, challenge came in the form of global music experts who may or not be well versed with the intricacies of Indian classical music. However, with combined effort and great amounts of planning, they got the highest number of votes from across the world, among the 37 contenders.
Besides a platform for fusion performances, IndianRaga also serves as an education startup, offering a range of courses in Indian classical music, both instrumental and vocal. Those who want to engage with IndianRaga on a regular basis are offered the IndianRaga Membership, a package designed to offer various elements of the IndianRaga experience.
IndianRaga is an innovative, one-of-a-kind platform that is revitalising Indian Classical music and dance. And what is more, not just Indians, it is being increasingly admired by it’s global audience, slowly making the world understand that there is more than just Bhangra to Indian forms of dance and music.
Feature Image Credits: Nicholas Crepea at AirPortraits.