Just the simple action of looking at a photo album of a gig like this one, can suck you into a wonderful psychedelic atmosphere and leave you there, starry-eyed, for several moments. I talk from a very subjective point of view here, of course, but this is exactly what happened to me after gaping at the frames from The Great Gig In The Sky with Dischordian.
The Great Gig In The Sky, a name aptly borrowed from a Floyd song, is an initiative by Jumpstart India, Akul Tripathi, Dhiren Talpade and Ryan Thomas to be precise; The co-founders of Jumpstart India. It was aired for the very first time on the 30th March 2012 at 9 pm on Big CBS Spark.
The primary idea behind The Great Gig In The Sky is to harmoniously combine music and nature. To achieve this, bands or artists venture into the woods on the outskirts of Mumbai and sing into the night under a mesmerizing starry sky. It is hardly a gig; it's an experience. My description cannot, in the slightest, do justice to this phenomena. Thus, IndianMusicRevolution thought of getting together with Dischordian and one of the minds behind this other-worldly concept, Ryan Thomas (Jumpstart India).
IMR: In the midst of so many gigs all over Mumbai, this is something extremely avant-garde that I have seen. Tell us Ryan, what made you think of a concept so unique?
Ryan Thomas: We always had a professor in college who would make us listen to songs on nature and would send us messages through music. We thought, why not do this to support local musicians and hence we didn't think too much, we just started off. Since I used to work with a music firm before, I kind of knew the music scene and knew musicians from there. So it’s been great fun so far.
IMR: The first time The Great Gig In The Sky was aired on the 30th March 2012 at 9pm on Big CBS Spark right? How many times a month does it go on air? And would it be something that would continue throughout the year?
Ryan Thomas: It’s a yearlong thing. It’s divided into 3 seasons, all of 4 episodes. Once a season is over for the next 2 months the episode runs on repeats and then a fresh set of episodes go on air.
IMR: How many bands/artists have played this gig so far? Which ones? And how do you decide the band/artist?
Ryan Thomas: Well we have had 6 artists come and play The Great Gig In The Sky. We really aren’t looking for loud music; we look at music that doesn’t really disturb the ambience of the place. We prefer more acoustic based musicians/artists. The artists we have had so far have been Nikhil D’souza, Ankur Tewari, Swanand Kirkire, Sidd Coutto, Airport and now Dischordian.
IMR: How often are the excursions into the woods? And given the woods, I’m sure you must face a few difficulties?
Ryan Thomas: As jumpstart we do activities every weekend, we are weekend getaway specialists. We are more of an outdoor and adventure firm. The GGITS happens once a month and there are a lot of challenges we face. I mean right from finding the right location, the adventure activity, the safety of people...many things. But I think the toughest thing is finding the right location, coz we do a lot of research to find that right location.
IMR: How has your personal experience been? Whatever you had in mind, do you see it taking shape?
Ryan Thomas: Oh I have been really happy with the experience so far, it’s pretty much what I had in mind. However there is a lot of fine tuning to be done. I am hoping with more such trips that will happen.
IMR: Any more future projects of similar nature?
Ryan Thomas: There are many things in the pipeline. We have plans on working with various other art forms, nothing concrete yet but wait and watch is all I have to say for now.
IMR: Tell us Dischordian, how did The Great Gig in The Sky happen for you?
Garreth: Ryan and I had been in touch over a year ago, for some other gig, which, I think, never really worked out. When he started working on The Great Gig In The Sky, I guess he thought we’d be a good fit. As for me, I’d seen the promos on Tv, and I pretty much jumped at the opportunity when he called me about it. After that we just had to get together and work out the details.
IMR: So you spent a night in the woods, is that right? A night where you played music under the moonlit sky! Tell us, how was the experience?
Garreth: It was beautiful...and difficult to describe...the photographs will do much more justice to it. And the episode will do even better I’m sure.
But basically we got there around lunch time, lay around waiting for the murderous heat to subside, had a swim in the river, then dinner, and then got down to the gig. There was a kind of party in the village to celebrate the retirement of some guy who’d worked with the railways for 44 years. So there was a procession and a band and a whole lot of noise, and we delayed our gig by a couple of hours while they finished with theirs – but Aggi joined them for a while on a kettle drum or whatever it was...quite a racket, but great fun. One of the campers had also carried his ukulele, so me and Howard got him to give us a quick class. We learned a handful of chords from him and then jammed on a couple of songs.
So finally we got down to the gig at around 10 pm...it was lovely...the three of us sitting on rocks under a tree in an open field, with a million stars above us, fifteen or so people sitting on the ground around us, and a couple of kerosene lamps for a little extra light. It was a wonderfully intimate, casual gig...no one knows where the time went...we had no setlist, but we ended up playing for over two hours. It was one of the most satisfying gigs ever. After it was done, Howard and I sat at the edge of the field for a couple of hours, talking and sipping on some whiskey or feni, I don’t remember which...and finally crashed a couple of hours before sunrise.
IMR: Howard, you said that you almost forgot it was a performance. Anything else you may want to add?
Howard: Well it really wasn’t. It was more like sitting and playing for your friends on someone’s terrace...only we had just met these wonderful people and it was the largest terrace view ever. Even after our petro gas lamps died out (we played that long) the stars kept the mood going and we jammed some more. Also got a quick lesson about the north star, the big bear and orions belt.
IMR: This is the first time I have come across something so wonderfully different. In what ways, from a bands point of view, was it different from a conventional gig?
Garreth: Lots of ways. The venue first of all was so relaxing and serene, the sky, trees, soft wind, and natural reverb created a very unique stage for us. Also sitting less that 2 feet away was the audience, totally caught up in the music as well as the ambience. Also what was nice was that we didn’t have to bother with a sound check, get mic tests done, etc. Infact my guitar and mandolin stand for the whole gig was Kitu who was in the audience right in front of me.
IMR: What are Dischordian’s plans for the future? Another album this year? More gigs like these?
Garreth: We’d love to do more gigs like this! If these guys call us back, we’d be only too happy...or even if someone else wants to hire a band for their camping trip or picnic – we’re on!
Album – not this year, I don’t think so. We’ve just about started writing again, working on new songs, digging up discarded or incomplete stuff and tweaking it. The past year or so has been really packed with other things, mostly our other bands and work. So we hadn’t worked on any new material for Dischordian, hadn’t even jammed very much. That’s the main plan for now – write new songs and play them, gig some more, let the new songs breathe a bit...another album will happen eventually, maybe next year.
More pictures(The Great In The Sky): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.266391396790850.58116.140695922693732&
Vaidehi Palshikar is a 24 year old commerce graduate with a Masters in French Literature. She currently works with The French International School of Mumbai. She is an avid reader of books that speak the language of 4 year old's right up to those that go deep into the existential philosophy. Photography is one of her primary passions too. As for Music, she plays the guitar for a Thane based Alternative band - CATHRSIS. She is also a trained singer but chooses to spend most of her time with her six string.
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