Saffron N Jo, a unique Mumbai based band with musicians from various areas of Bengal, Assam and even Jamshedpur and Goa is coming up in a big way creating strong a foothold in the music circuit. Sholoana Bangaliana spoke to Ms. Ronkini Gupta, a very talented singer from Jamshedpur who is also one of the vocalists of the band and got to know a lot of interesting things about the band Saffron N Jo and their music. Excerpts:
Saffron N Jo, a unique name indeed.. Why this name and why this band ..
“Saffron” a very traditional Indian colour, and “Jo” a random western name, and the blend of the two meaning we experiment with Fusion Music.
The members of Saffron N Jo are from different parts of West Bengal and Assam, how did you guys come together and what made you come together as a band ..
Myself and Subhankar, are Sholoana Bangali, but hail from Jamshedpur and Rourkela respectively. Our Keyboardist (Brince Bora), and Drummer (Manash Protim) hails from Assam but is settled in Mumbai for about 5-6 years now. Ajay, our guitarist is from Mangalore, again a fresh new composer in the Ad and Bollywood scene who I met through professional contacts and became thick friends with. And there is also my fellow female vocalist Arohi who is also a fantastic singer. Initially it was just Subhankar and I who came together as we have incidentally learnt under the same guru in Jamshedpur- Shri Chandrakant Apte. We both trained in classical Music under his tutelage, so we shared that common connection and of course our mother tongue bond coupled with our coming to Mumbai for our respective careers, gave our association a special reason to come together to create something new. We both wanted to retain singing Classical music, but wanted to reach out to a larger group of people, so the thought of contemporary Classical Fusion was born. We gradually met Brince n Manash who added the necessary western flavour, cos Brince is a trained in jazz music. Ajay the youngest among us, has his roots in Goa, so we have a fairly rich combination of sorts to create our own sound.
We came together to first make 3 Old Classics in contemporary style, where we recreated the songs with a dash of Classical Sargams, some amazing vocal harmonies, and some terrific jazz chord progressions and that hit National TV. We performed these songs on Sony Mix-GIGS and created a name for ourselves. In the process of recreating these Old Melodies, we also created our first Original Sound Track Ae Ri Chaandni, which is soon to release Online, and our fresh new composition “Mann”- That releases on Diwali!
Tell us something about the kind of music Saffron N Jo specializes in and why should the audience even listen to your music ..
It specializes in bringing together nuances of both worlds, Indian Classical intertwined with sometimes, Rock, sometimes Jazz n sometimes country. The novelty is that we have 3 vocalists in the band, and we play around a lot with voices. This combination of 2 female voices merged with a single male voice creates a distinctive sound that sets us apart from other bands, which usually has a single voice. We write our own songs and recreate melodies of the past which are long lost, so that it can be revived for our current generations who did not have the privilege of listening to them.
You have even featured on national television playing in Sony Mix, how was the experience and what was the audience reaction like..
The audience embraced us with arms wide open. We were appreciated for our originality and our approach towards the song. We were specially complimented on the fact that with all the experimentation that we had applied, we still had retained the melody of the song really well. At no juncture did we ruin the purity of it, but had very well ornamented it and created a fresh sound. Our songs “O re Majhi” and Achha ji MAin Haari received rave reviews on You Tube also. We have just recorded our original song that Sony shall promote online.
Tell us more about your previous performances and what more can your listeners expect from you ..
With such a massive exposure on Sony Mix, we started doing lots of Gigs. We were identified by the Fm scene in Mumbai as a retro band, as our Sony Mix songs became really popular. We did “Phoolon ka taaron ka” in Saffron n JO style specially on the Occasion of Raksha Bandhan on 92.7 BIG FM. And now we have featured as the Diwali Special Rockband, on 98.3 Radio Mirchi, with Rj Jeeturaaj, on ‘Band Banaao Jeeturaaj ko Sunaao’
What are your plans of reaching out to your home audience in areas of Bengal and Assam ..
We are currently working on a Bangla Song and working towards a Classical-Rock flavour. We want to do gigs in Kolkata too. After all, the vocalists have a Bangali majority and we hope to hit the gig scene in Kolkata real soon!
Your way ahead, just simple performances and music videos or something new and innovative..
Performances, Festivals, Fm, TV and definitely Bollywood. We would love to do Bollywood, cos that is one medium artists cannot ignore. We want to be associated with Great Music in whatever way we can!
As a singer what other projects are u working on and how soon do we get to hear your voice in popular Bollywood numbers ..
I have debuted this year with a song called called “Rab da Banda” from the film Pied Piper which is doing its rounds in various festivals, like the Chicago Festival, and MAMI in Mumbai. It will see a 2014 release. Besides this I have also lent my voice to a track in the film “Aankhon Dekhi” by Rajat Kapoor, also releasing in 2014, where I have sung a bandish in raag Bihaag…
Any particular Bangla band that Saffron N Jo idolizes or draws inspiration from ..
We are inspired by great music, be it Pink Floyd or Shakti,Guns n Roses or Norah Jones, Cactus or Indian Ocean. We love to listen to everything. We love Old Bollywood numbers and also listen to Pritam and Vishal and Shankar. We think everyone who is there in the scene has something in them that is working. Sometimes it is the melody, sometimes it is the arrangement, sometimes it is the lyrical content, sometimes it is the originality of content, sometimes its formulaic. Whatever it is, we are inspired by our natural passion to do good music, keep listening to great music and contribute in our own way to this endless ocean!
Mere Saajan Hain Uss Paar- Saffron N JO (You Tube)