The Spasht: This band from Chennai is shaking it up with Carnatic Acapella

This five-month-old Carnatic Acapella band talks about how the essence of Carnatic music has been lost and how they're keen on reviving the value attributed to Indian classical music
The members of the Carnatic Acapella band, The Spasht
The members of the Carnatic Acapella band, The Spasht

You've probably heard carnatic singers by the dozen and acapella groups come out of the woodwork, but when was the last time the twain met?

Meet The Spasht, a Chennai-based band of five college students who got together and created an amazingly lit Carnatic Acapella band. We talk to the founding members of the band about how they came up with Carnatic Acapella and the way it works. These musically creative youngsters also share with us the importance of Carnatic music and their determination towards retaining the significance of Indian classical music in the growing culture of music in the country. Excerpts from a fun chat:

What inspired the idea of a Carnatic Acapella Group? What was your intended motive?

All of us are trained Carnatic singers. The core beauty or the essence of Carnatic music is not understood by people. We want to explore the beauty of Indian classical music and perform it with certain elements that youngsters will listen to like using konnakol, beatboxing and acapella. As for acapella, it has a very wide reach right now. And acapella with Carnatic music sounded really unique. So we took it forward with the aim of uniting people through music.

Members of The Spasht

  • Sneghaa Kannan, Madhuvanthy, Aadharshini, Keerthana and Srilatha - Acapella

  • Srimathi - Vocalist

  • Sanath Kumar, Varun Athreya - Percussionists 

When and how did The Spasht begin?

All of us are college students and met in college (Shri Shankarlal Sundarbai Shasun Jain College, T Nagar). Whenever we were free, we used to come and jam together because we had this love for music. So eventually we realized that we had a connect with each other and sounded really good as a group. We started uploading videos on Instagram, we named our band The Spasht and became an acapella band.

Why the name The Spasht? What meaning does the word hold?

Spasht means clarity in Sanskrit. We didn’t spend a lot of time deciding what to name our band. It just happened. The same way/manner our band was formed. The essence of the songs we sing, our shruthi, the lyrics we sing, all of this should be clear.

The Spasht performing at the TEDxNapierBridge

What does The Spasht aspire to do in the future?

We want to experiment more and more with music. Carnatic music is losing its value and charm among people, especially among youngsters. You can see that if you just happen to go for a Carnatic music concert, you will prominently find only elderly people. Through our music, we want to reach the youngsters, our target audience; after all, we’re the torchbearers.

How receptive have the Carnatic music listeners or the general audience been?

Our first experimentation with Carnatic Acapella was at TEDxNapierBridge. The audience really liked listening to us perform since it was something new. Singing simple acapella for the song Aigiri Nandini helped convey the message of the event through music. It showed how much music could connect people in the audience that day.

Did you have to face any hardships or are facing any now with regard to the formation of the band or the functioning of it?

Honestly, none at all. In fact, our college is very supportive of our work. They have offered to sponsor our The Madrasi Kaapi tour. They provide us with all kinds of permissions and allocations of time for our practice. Everyone around us is being as helpful as they can.

The vocalists of the band 

How supportive are your family and friends?

We have extremely supportive family and friends. They’re very happy with the kind of content that we put out. They sometimes pitch in their opinions. Initially, they thought we were just whiling away our time without studying. But later on with our performance at TEDx and other events, they started to understand the magnitude of what we were doing.

Will you remain to be a Carnatic Acapella Group or will you move on to other kinds of music too?

Of course! Carnatic Acapella is one of the very prominent ideas that popped up with our group. With time, we aspire to explore and experiment with all genres of music. We are sure there will be the birth of new ideas with music.

The Spasht performing

The Spasht as a band finds Agam, a fusion band to be very inspiring.

Is The Spasht going to become a professional music group in the future?

Definitely, yes. We are going to go on a tour called The Madrasi Kaapi. The tour started mid-February at Maadi Spaces, Kodambakkam in Chennai. After this, we will be going to Bengaluru, Kochi, Coimbatore, Tiruchy and Hyderabad. We might go to Pondicherry and Mumbai as well.

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