More from Bangalore

This weekend Phnom Penh has musical visitors from Bangalore in southern  India.  Singer-songwriter Mahesh and his band, and acoustic trio Cinema of Excess, will play an early show at Oscar’s on the Corner on Thursday, take the afterwork session at Farm to Table on Friday, and finish in the garden at Botanico on Saturday evening.  
Mahesh
brings a big, lush but organic sound with soaring vocals and ringing guitars, rising and falling.  Cinema of Excess has a more folky feel but no less melodic and sparkling, with intertwining and crisp guitar work.   They were good enough to give some background to Leng Pleng.

Mahesh

When did you take up guitar?  Was it as a vehicle for songwriting or did songwriting flow from taking up the guitar? 

I started playing the guitar at age 15, around the same time was I was exposed to international music, particularly musicians like John Mayer, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.  The combination of these two events led to my journey of songwriting.

I find the art of songwriting and musical arrangement is a lot about the fine balance of space and texture.  How do you approach the process of taking an initial idea and creating something larger out of it?  Also, which comes first, the music or the words? 

Inspiration for writing a song tends to happen of its own accord while I spend time noodling with the guitar on a daily basis. Things in everyday life that impact my way of thinking in general becomes the muse for the lyric writing.

Photo: supplied

The words and melody tend to come together in the songwriting process.   Once done, arranging and producing the music happens with my band members Rohan Kamath (piano/keyboards) and Bharath Kashyap (guitars).

I gather that alongside your singer-songwriter performances and recordings you’ve worked in many different collaborations across musical styles.  What can you tell us about Blushing Satellite and Mahesh and the Mix?  

Blushing Satellite is a psychedelic/alternative rock act founded by guitarist Ramanan Chandramouli. It’s a project that challenges my musical abilities and perception of music itself.  That’s one of the core reasons why I enjoy collaborating with various musicians, including my current line up.  Mahesh and the Mix was a blues rock act that I started my musical journey with, it’s now defunct.

Will this be your first tour outside India?  Your first time in Cambodia?

Indeed! This is the first time I’ve been outside my home country. Thanks to oaf. Records, the label I’m signed to, I’m able to reach out to bigger audiences around the world and share my journey with music. It’s the first time I’m performing in Cambodia as well which I’m super excited for. Extremely looking forward to it.

What do you see in your musical year ahead? 

There’s many plans for the year ahead once we head back to India. More music releases, a bigger band line up and lots of gigs!

Cinema of Excess

How did the band form?  How long have you been performing together?  

Cinema of Excess was formed in 2017 when Anirudh and Bharath discovered their mutual liking towards singer-songwriter/ fingerstyle/ folk music and started to jam.  After writing a bunch of songs and playing a couple of shows under a different name, Abheet joined the troop through mutual connections, which completed the sound of Cinema Of Excess.

How does the music form in your collaboration – does a song come mostly formed or do you jam out ideas in pursuit of the magic formulation?  Also, which comes first, the music or the words?

We have had a fixed writing process so far: Anirudh writes the song from start to end, then the song then makes its way to Bharat, who adds his guitar parts over Anirudh’s guitar parts and vocals, and finally Abheet puts down his bass part. What each of us writes is completely our individual contribution and the complete song is each of these parts coming together.

Photo: supplied

I hear a strong folky vibe from your album Bring Back The Sound – is that representative of the bulk of your material, or was that just what came out in the studio?

The folk influence is not something we actively worked on achieving but just happened as a result of us making the music together; especially Anirudh since he comes up with the song ideas and we build with him. A lot of our music follows the same thought though so there is a strong folk and blues influence in our own music. We always try to translate our feelings into the music and words.

Will this be your first tour outside India?  Your first time in Cambodia?

Yes, this is our first time out of the country and our first time in Cambodia. In fact, this is our first tour ever as Cinema of Excess! We are very excited to play in Cambodia and check the place out.

What do you see in your musical year ahead? 

At the moment we have planned two single releases, along with a music video and soon after that we plan on hitting the studio to record our second EP. We’re headlining Mood Indigo, IIT bombay, along with other college fests and then we’ll be heading to Calicut for the SummerTide Music Festival in February 2020 followed by an India tour, currently in the works!

Mahesh and Cinema of Excess playing an early show (9 pm) at Oscar’s on the Corner tonight, Thursday, then will take the afterwork session at Farm to Table from 6.30 pm on Friday, and finish in the garden at Botanico on Saturday evening from 7 pm.

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