Rishabh Seen: An exclusive interview with the Sun of classical and metal music

Rishabh Seen: An exclusive interview with the Sun of classical and metal music

Bringing in light the mélange of classical and metal music with Guitar and Sitar, pouring a new life to music the Sun is ‘Rishabh Seen’. Resonating correct the youngest Indian classical musician who is famed in the metal world has showered love for both classical and metal music with the ‘Sitar’. This stringed musical instrument was invented in India and been used for centuries. Unlike Guitar it has more strings. So it’s to think of the virtuosity to rule over this classical instrument.

 1.Hello Rishabh, a heartful greetings to you. We would be pleased to know about the journey of your life till this point.

My name is Rishabh Seen, I am 19 years old (As of 2015).I am basically from Punjab, born in Jalandhar City, but moved to New Delhi in 2014 for my higher College studies which I am continuing at Hindu College (Delhi University).I am the 3rd generation musician from, what Indian classical musicians consider as one of the most important musical families of Punjab of the present times – My Grandfather Acharaya Lachman Singh Seen is a legendary Tabla exponent and Is the senior most artist of the Punjab Gharana (School of Tabla) today with us – He has received The Tansen Vishnu Digamber National Award (Then President Dr.RadhaKrishnan), State Sangeet Natak Academy Award (CM PunjabPrakash Singh Badal 2010) and the National Sangeet Natak Academy National Award (President Dr.Pratibha Patel 2010) and my Father, Pandit Manu Seen  Is agovernment certified ‘Top Graded’ AIR Artist and is one of the foremost and the most important Sitar players of today have spent my entire childhood being surrounded by music, and great musicians Learning it ,then practicing, then later on playing and touring all alonghave performed throughout India (Himachal,Delhi,Punjab,Kolkata,Rajasthan,Bagalore etc.)and Nations like Singapore and Japan and have received the utmost honored and encouraging opportunity’s to play with Legends like Ustad Shahid Parvez,Niladri Kumar,Talvin Singh,Pt.Rajan-Sajan Mishra(s), Pt. Birju Maharaj – and I have been lucky enough to hear some of the most encouraging words of appreciation from everyone mentioned, whichhas been a dream come true.I have played in Major Indian classical music festivals like Harivallabh festival (Punjab), Vishnu Digambar festival (Himachal) and Vasantotsav (New Delhi) to name a few. It has been a surreal journey since I have been in full sound and mind since the age of 10 years – Really, it has been extraordinary if you ask me.

2. The divine music has been poured into you by your father Pandit Manu Kumar Seen, one if the foremost Sitar players in India. Is there any other lamp that lit on the way of your music till here?

Yes Definitely! To start with my father is my topmost source of inspiration firstly as a human being, then as a Sitar Player/Musician. Words fail to describe how his whole life as far as I have seen has been an incredible journey and how strong and how hardworking he has been – I know I won’t but I will try to reach that level of Mastery over the instrument, Music and Level of Kindness and positivity he surrounds himself with – He is just an extra ordinary person as a whole, this just goes to a spiritual, above-the-world level when he picks up a Sitar! After him there are a few names of Indian classical musicians, whose personalities and music has encouraged me the most and continue to do so –

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan (Vocals), Smt.Gangu Bai Hangal (Vocals), Ustad Vilayat Khan (Sitar), Ut.Shahid Parvez (Sitar), Irshad Khan (Sitar), Pt.Budhaditya Mukherjee (Sitar), Niladri Kumar (Sitar), Pt.Anokhe lal (Tabla),Pt. Kumar Bose (Tabla), Ut.Zakir Hussain (Tabla), Pt. Ravi Shankar (Sitar) -I have nearly heard every young and senior Artist but starting from my father, the music that has been produced by these people just really is very close to my heart and speaks to me on some other level.

3. When did you start playing Sitar? What was so much enchanting about it that dragged you to go for it?

This is interesting – I never wanted to play sitar, ever. Those deeps cuts on my father’s fingers and the sweat and blood surrounding this Instrument was nothing less than a nightmare for a 8 year old starting fiddling with it when I was 8 I remember, besides it I learnt vocal and Tabla for some time. There is one incident that I recognize, which changed my outlook towards a Sitar and towards Indian Classical music – on December 25th 2006, I was forced to go to Harivallabh Music festival where my father was playing a late night set in which he played Raga ‘Jhinjhoti’- I remember those notes, that vibe, that power, that attraction, that performance – everything caught my eyes, mind and soul for the next 50 minutes. My father Gave a recital which even the regular attendees today regard as one of the finest performances in decades in the festival (A glimpse is on Youtube) I was moved, I was just seeing here and there and hearing people burst into Claps and ‘Wah Wahis’ (An Indian phrase spoken when you really like something) – His music hit me so hard, that those 50 minutes changed the way I looked at musicians, music, a sitar and ultimately my father – The next morning I took up a Sitar and That was the day which I actually consider as my beginning to this insane journey.Sounds cheesy but I remember taking like an oath to devote myself to the Sitar  for the rest of my life.Soon,My father was so pleased to see it and since then I remember Devoting everything physically and mentally to a sitar and this relation has since grown  deeper and deeper.

-What took my heart away was that this instrument was incredibly rich and I had witness some of the best music, coming through this instrument – I soon cut myself off from outside world and found that this was the ”Voice” I actually wanted to speak through. Still Today I feel like an hour of listening me speak and an hour of listening me play a Sitar – You’ll definitely know mebetter hearing a Sitar. Sitar has this signature sound, it can imitate all human emotions I would say rather than voices, it has this tendency to get you really energized and Deepwithin the sounds and it’s just something I always longed for.

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4. Your first song uploaded on YouTube was ‘Tempting Time’ from ‘Animals as Leaders’, a big hit song. Was it in your envision that it would open up doors to a whole new world?

A great question! Well, Let me say that Playing Animals As Leaders was something I had no idea and no plans  ‘AT ALL’ and was not even a goal at all to do until a few months back -I really wish people to understand this that being an Indian Musician in a modern Era , you are not considered as talented or like ‘Cool’ as a you would consider a Bollywood or a Rock’n’roll  artist – thought I am 19 but I had my fair shares of such experience where I really felt like brought down just because I was am Indian musician who is not commercial, not cool, not social and not as outgoing as other musicians/people – I really wanted to put forth the extreme Richness and versatility of Indian Musicians, Music and A Sitar forth – I remember I was coming back via a Bus to Punjab , in the last week of June and In that 8 hour journey I gave a lot of thought to how to show everyone that Indian Music and musicians are more than what meets the eye and the ear  -Coincidentally I was listening to Tempting time and (there is a whole new interview for how much I love and How I got into Metal and Animals as Leaders) I had already heard it a 1000 times but at that Point I was like ”Maybe I should play animals as leaders on a Sitar” – But Soon put away the thought cause I didn’t believe I could play some music about which I have 0 per cent knowledge about its theory and technicality and Melody came home and did Riyaz and soon just put up the song and jammed along for a few days, It came closer every day and finally in 22 days I did the Song on the sitar (Figuring out melodies, time signatures, Shreds, Scales, techniques), shot the video on 25th June and it was out on 10th July – It changed nearly everything.

-All I can say Is I  still get Goosebumps whenever I think of that whole month – Legends like Tosin Abasi himself, Bands like the black crown Initiate, scale the Summit and World famous online web Portals/magazines like Metal Injection, Metalsucks, Geargods, The circle pit, Indian media like CNN IBN7 – all wrote mind numbing articles and reviews. Indian Metal bands, my favorite musicians from Indian Scene, and global scene, I got a chance to speak to them and everyone said that they hoped I will take this new beginning ahead in future. My Mother knows, Only My Mother knows how much I cried. I hadn’t even imagined 500 people watching it – It received like 150k Views in like 10 days and Now sits with around 265K Views and over 10k Likes. I released another cover of the song ”Wave of Babies” in august which got a similar but a less in number views – Sits around 35 k views in a month never wanted to say, this but really this response shows that this is the beginning of something Undone and historic- Indian Classical and Metal Music coming together am 19 and fully determined to take this to a whole new level. With This I did a workshop in Furtados New Delhi explain what and how I did it, Played at a Metal festival ”The Outrage Festival’ In Delhi and I am scheduled to play in Bangalore and Kolkata (for the Metal for Nepal Fund raiser concert on 27th September) – Never ever has an Indian musicians Represented Indian Music in the Metal Premises of shows and Workshops.

5. Do you have love for any other things apart from Sitar to make yourself engrossed?

Speaking the truth, I just like two things apart from Music/Sitar – Watching and Reading about some horror or real life super-natural predominant, particular watching horror movies and Writing – Not at all poetry or rhymes but general writing about how I see Indian music, Music business today, Mainstream media and Politics affecting and destroying everything real and valid and required – So yeah Horror and writings that I my escape – INTO the world! Grave encounters is my favorite Horror movie as of now! Rest all day revolves around practicing, making music, thinking about music, playing more and then again practicing as much As my body allows.

6. The word “Incredible” has been used as a piece of appreciation by your all-time favorite musician Tosin Abasi from ‘Animals as Leaders’. What are your good feelings towards that?

I could never reach out to Tosin before the cover even existed, but when the cover came forth I still remember on 13th July around like 11pm I got a message on my Facebook, which was from Tosin – I remember blood rushing out of my head and was in sweat but later on tears! Tosin is a kind of a musician I want to be, I mean he is one of the few musicians who actually embrace and encourage originality – I mean he said that my ‘Interpretation’ was incredible- which shows how encouraging and how open his mind is to a new sound. So rather than saying that I didn’t play 100 per cent exact , he said ‘It looks really challenging on a sitar’ and admired the interpretation and my humble effort. Personally and Frankly I Discovered AAL in 2014 January and The moment I heard them I was like ‘This is so much Indian Classical music ‘ I mean I instantly found this connection between Their songs and our Indian music and later on I realized that Indian And Metal are so alien but yet so close and so extreme and so soulful genres , which I longed to hear together – Never knew a year later I’ll myself be the person who becomes the first one to do that ever. Tosin’s words Shall stay with me forever and will be a driving force behind all I do in the future whenever I’ll bring together Indian and Metal music.

JJJ

7. Give us a glimpse of your upcoming projects for which your friends are eagerly waiting for.

Thank you for asking this – TNT is the first platform which shall put something as exclusive as this, forth to all concerned/interested! I am finally announcing it –

– I am forming the world’s first ever instrumental Indian Classical music – Progressive Metal band which I have named ‘Mute the Saint’ – I have started working on my Debut release with 4 other well-known and my favorite musicians whose identities will be disclosed in due course via Facebook Twitter – Our Self-Titled Debut Record drops out in ‘January 2016’ (Final Dates will be announced via Mute The Saint’s Facebook page) – What will be historical with this EP record and Band is that Never ever In the history of Indian classical and Metal music, these two have been combined to create a unique , powerful, driving and Soulful sound plus in this Band a ‘SITAR will be taking the musical Forefront – which will be fun to hear and witness as it will something completely unheard and unseen – Progressive Metal Music with an Indian classical acoustic Instrument Sitar – Sounds fun!We will be the First Instrumental Indian Classical- Progressive Metal Band from India Ever, will contribute to this project’s global history’s validation.We are doing with a few songs and a few are left and This is one of the major contributions to the world of Indian Classical and Metal and I am giving everything I can for this and making it as good as I can so that the History begins in all its glory. In short, This never ever happened globally it these two genres – It’s about time the global scene realizes the power, Versatility and richness of Indian Music, Musicians and Indian classical and Metal music – Something I dreamt of doing a few years ago.You can catch me on Facebook or Search for’Mute The Saint’ – The album will be available via social media globally in January 2016- We’ll be going live in 2016!

8. Is the ardor of imparting music within you? Would you like to enlighten music among the young ones who are in love with it?

– From the very bottom of my heart and being very frank – I exactly knew about the lives musicians lead, and the poor harsh conditions they face throughout their lives, when I was like 12-13.To me my father and mother both defined and gave a path to the passion inside – It is not at all the Money, the fame the glam surrounding the music that has my whole life after it.See I am Indian musician, Ustad Bismillah Khan, such a legend Died pulling rickshaw, so what can a little kid like me every think of doing BUT – There is this Vision and love for music and Real musicians, which Drives me forth everyday above all personal reasons’ wish to see musicians live a good and glorious lives and not die miserably or life the life on edge, Every day I sit on Riyaz and think of doing something that could bring about a good change – If we can pay an actress like 30 crores for half an hour of dance performance, Let’s also start paying like something in balance to that amount to say like an Indian Musician or a good metal band – OF course you have to been something t deserve money ,but how can someone push himself if he/she sees nothing coming their way? So personally bringing about a vibe where our Government and Media supports and promoted our music and culture and the incredible talent in the music world, I my upmost goal. See if I wanted to be popular, I would have had done a gangnam or a honey Singh Sitar cover – but no, it was more about the instrument, more about proving something bigger than myself.

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-Dear Younger ones, If I talk of India, Please try and look beyond Bollywood – Here is a single example which defines everything I want to say and request for – We pay 1000 rupees, to watch a movie in theater, That movie is after a few days, shown like a 1000 times throughout the year, you watch it like a 50 ore times- right? Ok so now you listen to the same Vodka and Cigarette stuff while in a party, in a wedding, on TV, On Radio, throughout the year- Right? How about just replacing once occasion with Indian Music? How about listening to a nice metal band on one occasion? How about

Spending 500 bucks for a movie ticket and rest buying a ticket for a live non-Bollywood band? We all keep hearing and watching the same stuff at every single place and still don’t get tired? Let’s just look beyond what is being forced upon you – Take like 500 rupees go watch a metal band or Indian classical music and you’ll be elevated for that while , you know why? BECAUSE THE MOTIVE BEHIND THOSE MUSICIANS AND MUSIC IS NOT MONEY, THERE IS HEART AND SOUL IN IT – WHICH DEFINITELY WILL SPEAK TO YOUR HEART. Support Music and Independent industries other than Bollywood also – I am not saying to abandon Bollywood but rather listen and spend a little on something else too – I bet your life will be better and energetic.

9. Apart from Tosin Abasi who else is covering your mind with love for music?

Apart from Tosin, I have been and for the rest of my life I will be inspired by the work, music and life of Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters).Apart from proving and bridging two genres and bringing Sitar to a global Audience, I have a selfish dream – To work with Dave Grohl, make music and spend time with him. His life journey starting from Nirvana to Foo fighters and everything he has done musically is just what Pushes me every day – He is definitely the most nice and real human being and his thoughts are powerful enough to encourage a 12 old to follow what he wants to – And yes, His music has that place in my heart whenever I feel over excited or Low, It brings me closer to myself ad realize what’s going on and then encourages more than anyone or anything. Mentioning a few other international names whom I wish to meet and work work – Marilyn Manson, Joey Jordison,Architects,and Coldplay.-Also to mention Final Surrender, Undying Inc., Demonic Resurrection, The down Troddence, Bhayanak Maut a few other INDIAN artists have been really inspiring and my favorites.

10. What thoughts sailed your mind in regard you being Classical Musician?

That’s a nice question! This might sound a little cocky , but I am really proud of myself because I chose a road which like 30 years don’t even choose – I mean I could easily choose just popularizing myself and not giving a darn about the music scene, Indian Music and a sitar and focus on just my life and commercializing my self – Which 19 year olds do and should do rather than doing this I am ready to life the rest of my life with like a single meal, living on a roadside – BUT not giving up working for Good and Real music that comes from the soul. See, I can live my life happily never coming out of my home and playing Raga Lalit all day – But again the condition of musicians and real artists, real pushes me to move out and for collective good- ONLY by playing music. This sounds completely baseless but I shall achieve this THROUGH music and not via doing politics or money, that’s where I find myself being a 19 year old musician – and believe ONLY an Indian musician has that soul and power to bring about this change, and the change will come am taking a foggy and a total risk full road – I am proud of myself that I am not letting appreciation and intense humiliation effect my decisions.

Sitar

11. The aura of youngest and the only Classical Musician leads you to which stand?

Well, to answer that let me tell you a problem which I think still has the potential of ruining my life – I have so much to speak and that is the reason I can’t speak – As simple as that. A lot of people complain that I don’t stop writing but when they meet me I stand completely blank, ha-ha. The reason is, when you have a little to say, it comes out instantly, but when you have like

years of thoughts and practice and experiences as a young kid – You just have so much to speak – so whenever I am asked a question, I go blank, cause no one even has the slightest idea of how much, How much for example I had to think for that single Animals as leaders song, it I still try to make it short and explain. I think too much. Being young and then choosing to put yourself in something that no one’s cares about, is just has 2 potentials – Destroying your life, or making your life a historical one simply because you did it for something bigger than you that you loved am no big deal, But the little I have done has gotten things shaking.AT this point for all this , I want to mention that a lot of Money, effort, thinking, pain and power is going into everything that is coming up and that has already happened – I have spent more on music than I ever earned,Frankly.I never shivered seeing that because I have two most amazing spirits with me my father and my mom. They are the ones who are there for my craziest, weirdest and baseless goals – Just because they see me doing everything

I can for these goals,every day. That I currently where my situation lies as a 19 year old Indian Classical musician.

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12. Any benevolence for your Nation through your musical vibes?

The most important message – Apart from any government, any mainstream TV media – I love my nation a lot because I know the essence of my nation as I play the music everyday which defines my nation.

I think India should realize that Indian Classical musicians as so huge risk takers and they have always been the same – It’s like one of those movies where like two people save the whole

world while the world doesn’t even don’t they have been saved – So all the positivity , all the money going into good hands, all the cultural vibe in India is Just because Indian Music exists

And NOT because of Politics and everything. The moment this music disappears, all good will vanish and we’ll thrown into the hands of what already is ruining everything we should

Be proud of – Governments and some Medias really feel Anti Everything because I can see rapists, murderers being given 24 hour coverage, which IS to generate awareness but too much of it is turning these crimes into an industry, Industries thrive on Popularity – If you give more popularity to rapists, there numbers will eventually increase. Rather than doing that, let’s put Indian Musicians forth,independent non-Bollywood bands forth for like an hour or so in the whole day and you’ll see where our nation and society goes within a little time, I bet you.

14. Any message for your fans?

Well I don’t think I would call people who love me or what I am doing as fans, I would call then a family cause only a family member can understand something so abstract and so big I want to put forth through my music am 19 so you keeping in mind what I did previously, I want you to say this to yourself that ”This kid is not going to stop and shall get more crazy with his music” cause that is true and exactly what I am up to. This is just the beginning of what I am going to do, I am working on something historical right now – which is definitely my band/Project -Mute The Saint – Putting forth Real music, Indian Music , a Sitar and Metal music and combining the feels and sounds of these two genres to define and in start a whole new wave is what I want to do and  let the world realize the power in these two most extreme and real music forms don’t want to drop a hit which earns me millions, I want to drop a song that changes the face of current mainstream attraction and brings real musicians and music to the mainstream so these real musicians bless our lives with their true music.Remember Youth, The power lies in your hands- not in politics, but in our music. I don’t know if this will happen, but I know I am going to do all in my hands, that will make this happen. Trust me with al I said, more power and Good vibes to you all.

Ritu Raj Boruah

 


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