By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, (IANS) His musical heritage has helped him sustain his Half Step Down band for the last seven years in the capital’s uncertain western music world, says rock ‘n’ roll vocalist Dhaval Mudgal, adding that his mother Shubha Mudgal and he respect each other’s works.
“The band has not been directly inspired by my mother’s music, but we respect each other’s music. Everybody at home is happy that we are all into music. My mother pushes the boundary in her music and experiments with sounds. She listens to my music and comes up with suggestions. My mother likes our work on percussion and guitar,” Dhaval said.
He spoke to IANS after a concert at the end of the two-week Lavazza Friendship Jam – a country-wide informal competitive event featuring nearly 700 bands.
“I grew up listening to my mother’s Hindustani classical music and the Beatles. I remember my father listening to Kumar Gandharv and the Beatles. At some level, it influenced me,” Dhaval told IANS.
Over the years, the 28-year-old musician, Mugdal’s lone son, has drifted to the Beatles after having drawn inspiration from Kumar Gandharv. Dhaval is Shubha Mudgal’s son from her first marriage.
A traditional rock ‘n’ roll musician, Dhaval is inspired by Led Zeppelin, RHCP, Dave Matthew and the Rolling Stones, apart from the Beatles – and this shows in his work.
“It has a hint of reggae and blues,” he said, adding: “We are strong on melody and like to sing original songs though we throw in covers when we play in public venues like malls and coffee shops.”
Dhaval’s band makes social statements once in a while. “Recently, we did a song about the election process in India, ‘King Maker’, and about drinking, ‘Getting Drunk and Falling on Your Face’. We have written songs about pets,” he said.
However, love is the farthest from Dhaval’s discography.
Dhaval’s band is now producing its second album, “Notes From the Antidote” under its home banner Half Step Down and will distribute it independently.
“We did it with our first album and got support from Indie shops. Labels like People Tree and (tattoo parlour) Funkey Monkey stock our CDs. There is counter-cultural unity that is around in distribution and production of independent western music,” Dhaval said.
The musician says the Internet has changed the body of contemporary Indian music – which is getting younger in years. “Band musicians have Internet access and kids as young as 12-13 years are listening to every band in the world. They have a better approach to music, often performing on stage in their early teens,” Dhaval said.
New venues have also helped make a difference.
“Informal venues like coffee shops and cafes have forced bands to make their music relevant and simple. We now play for every kind of audience,” the musician said.
Formed in 2005, Half Step Down plays at least six live shows a month and sustains itself on music, Dhaval said.