Thursday, July 25, 2024

Echoes of Earth: lndia’s only eco-conscious music festival

Described as India’s ‘greenest music festival’, Echoes of Earth has till now been a two-day event in Bengaluru, aimed at celebrating the environment. Launched in 2016, it had to take a break for two years following the Pandemic, only to return in December last year with its much-awaited mix of workshops, discussions, flea markets and music performances.

This year, the festival moves to Mumbai and New Delhi, besides Bengaluru. Instead of multiple performers, it will feature only one act — the British nu jazz collective The Cinematic Orchestra, started in 1999 by composer-producer Jason Swinscoe.

The festival was started by Bengaluru-based Swordfish Events & Entertainment, in association with the pub Watson’s. Says festival director Roshan Netalkar, “The objective is to offer a unique experience of coming together as a community to celebrate the Earth responsibly through music, art and environmental workshops. This year, we have organised a three-city tour to reflect this ethos pan-India”.

Festival director Roshan Netalkar

Festival director Roshan Netalkar
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy: Echoes of Earth

The theme is ‘Circle Of Life’. Like in previous editions, the festival features stages and installations made from recycled and up-cycled material. No plastic or flex materials are used and a sapling will be planted for every ticket sold. While The Cinematic Orchestra will play in all three cities, the other programme will keep changing.

The Bengaluru event, to be held at the Jayamahal Palace on April 14, will include a discussion on the city’s lakes and ponds, besides a storytelling session titled ‘Lores Of The Soil’. Mumbai’s show will be held at Bandra’s Mehboob Studios. A discussion on mangroves and a workshop on biodiversity are part of the schedule. In New Delhi, a discussion on biodiversity and a workshop on ‘Art For Conservation’ have been lined up at 1AQ, Mehrauli.

Musician Jason Swinscoe

Musician Jason Swinscoe
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy: Echoes of Earth

According to Netalkar, the reason to move to other cities was simple. He explains, “When we think about biodiversity, we rarely picture cityscapes. However, urban areas are home to multitudes of ecosystems and natural wealth, hosting rich biodiversity. We are an intrinsic part of nature, and yet we know very little about it. Through the concert tour, we aim to support the audience in exploring their local natural environment and put it at the heart of urban life.”

The music has always been a major draw at the festival. In the past, producer-composer Talvin Singh, Malian singer guitarist Vieux Farka Toure, UK-based nu jazz group The Yussef Dayes Experience, singers Susheela Raman and Pratik Kuhad, Shillong blues band Soulmate, Austrian percussionist Manu Delago. American DJ Emancipator, drummer Sarathy Korwar and electronic trio Klangphonics have been among the artistes to have performed.

Music in the woods

Music in the woods
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy: Echoes of Earth

This will be The Cinematic Orchestra’s first performance in India. While Swinscoe will play keyboards and samples from his laptop, he will be joined by drummer Luke Flowers, bassist Sam Vicary, keyboardist Dominic Marshall and vocalist Yvette. “This is a smaller band, more about the rhythm section,” says Swinscoe.

Though The Cinematic Orchestra released its first studio album ‘Motion’ in 1999, it has come out with only three more original records and two soundtrack albums, besides two live recordings. One of its popular pieces is its cover version of British band Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’, where it slowed down the tempo of the original. Earlier, the group used turntables, during the time DJs became an intrinsic part of music. Recalls Swinscoe, “We did that in the early 2000s, but then there was a natural shift. We moved towards the sampler. I for instance have a laptop connected to my keyboard, and a bank of signature sounds from the tracks, and a bunch of effects from which I process sounds live. It’s a nice box of toys.”

The stage designed like a red scorpion

The stage designed like a red scorpion
| Photo Credit:
MONISH BHATT

Like its predecessors, the last studio album ‘To Believe’, released in 2019, was jazz-inspired. “In India, our set will be a mix of some of our older compositions, besides tracks we plan to put on our forthcoming album.”

Based in Lisbon, Portugal, Swinscoe hopes his visit to India will be culturally-inspiring as a songwriter, as it is a totally new environment for him. He remembers seeing fusion group Shakti in 2005, and being in awe.“There have been a lot of collaborations between Indian musicians and jazz artistes. There have been amazing outputs, with the polyrhythmic side of Indian music blending with jazz harmony.”

The Himalayan Ibex stage

The Himalayan Ibex stage
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy: Echoes of Earth

The group has received many invitations to visit India, but the timings could not be worked out. He says, “I am happy to come for a festival with a strong message. On this planet, we consume too much, and we must be ethical about the way we consume things. We need to act as individuals and families and treat this planet with more respect. Such festivals help create the consciousness, and leave a big footprint,” he adds.

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