The band members speak about the sound of the sarod in their music and why they prefer to remain genre-fluid
When singer Siddhant Sarkar watched a video of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ being played on sarod, he envisioned this exotic Indian instrument playing a role in electronic music. He approached Rohan Prasanna, who’s trained in sarod, to jam with him and his musician friends. Thus was born the five-member band Kitanu in 2017 consisting 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 band, is a mix of “folksy, trippy sound of a sarod to influences of jazz, funk, rock & roll, blues, metal and bossa nova”
The first number ‘Vacation’ leads with the sarod, letting the guitar seamlessly merge with it before the vocals blend in. The second track, ‘Pebbles’, is sober in the mood but energetic in its beat. The last number ‘Faith’ carries the vocals and the guitar riffs even as the sarod makes its presence felt; keeping you hooked with curiosity on what difference the sarod can make here. Says Rohan, “The challenge in using the sarod is to sound right both musically and sonically while simultaneously gelling with western instruments.”
Though the sarod sets Kitanu apart from other bands and they would like to capitalise on that, the members believe that their USP is that every instrument has its role to fulfil and maintain the balance. Says Omkar, “The sarod is not the focus, the music is; if the music calls for a blistering sarod solo then we will oblige, the same goes for other instruments. That being said, we do realise that the sarod is what makes our sound unique and what we would call ‘our sound’.
A fascination for Indian instruments made Siddhant wonder how ‘native sounds’ would go with ‘conventional western’ ones. “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 cemented when in some of my travels I came across native folk instruments the sheer uniqueness of their sound blew me away; I just knew it was something I wanted to incorporate in my own music/sound.”
Why would anybody want to name their band Kitanu which means germs in English? Siddhant explains: “Back in 2017, before the pandemic, one time I fell ill and I decided to go to our jam nonetheless because we all just wanted to get the work done. I thought my bandmates would appreciate my determination to show up for a jam despite being ill. However, I ended up coughing a lot throughout the jam and everyone went into another room and left me with the mic in the jam pad. We kept jamming but it was a lot of leg-pulling and jokes….as you can imagine, all these jokes finally led to the name Kitanu which just stuck with the band.”
The band members feel they have evolved individually as musicians and they plan to remain genre-fluid. Says Siddhant, “We feel when you decide to stick to a genre, you limit yourselves and we all view our music as an amalgamation of different sounds rather than something specific.”
Kitanu has started to prepare for their next EP and say it has a lot more exciting songs. “It is going to be much more improved in all aspects as this time we did everything by ourselves, including recording and mixing, and we all feel we have gotten a lot better at it now,” says Omkar.