Indo-Western fusion band ‘Swaraag’ was in Goa to perform recently. NT BUZZ learns more about the group who are regular visitors to the state
Goa is no stranger to Swaraag, an Indo-Western fusion band, as the group has performed in the state a number of times.
Comprising of co-founder of the band, Arif Khan (zitar); Asif Khan (singer); Sajid Khan (drummer); Tasruf Ali (saxophone); Arif Khan (Rajasthani instruments such as khartal/morchang); Seif Ali Khan (tabla – mo) and Rey Rozerr (acoustic guitar), the band enjoys performing Rajasthani folk traditional songs with a fusion touch, traditional Punjabi Sufi folk, Bollywood songs, apart from creating their own original Rajasthani and Hindi songs.
Indeed, it was in 2014 that the founder and team coach of the band, Pratap Singh and Arif Khan (zitar player) first met and began working with a small instrumental band. However, with time, the duo realised the need to include more instruments and vocals as well. “So we decided to include Asif who is the younger brother of Arif as he was fond of Sufi music. As we are from Rajasthan, we also added Rajasthani folk style. We then started to perform at weddings and corporate events,” says Singh, adding that to increase their people connect, they then decided to include Bollywood numbers too. Gradually they also added one more lead instrument ie the saxophone and for that Rajasthani flavour, they got in the morchang/khartal.
Today, they perform for all kinds of occasions, be it birthdays, college fests, baby showers, etcetera and strive to appeal to people of all age groups. The group also keeps in mind certain aspects like the audience background, venue, and occasion and based on this, they decide on the song choices. In fact ‘Padharo Mhare Desh’ is their signature song.
“We do not use electric instruments like keyboard or sampler, we play purely acoustic and people really love it. Whatever song they demand we just fuse them with our instruments. People get mesmerised when they see the programme flow in between Rajasthani, Sufi and Bollywood fusion,” says Singh.
Singh adds that a music performance is “an energy exchange programme” between the artistes and the audience.
“When we play Sufi, sometimes people get goosebumps and some even start to weep. We connect people with their emotions,” he adds.
Since their inception the group has done more than 1000 performance worldwide. “While performing, the band scans the audience to know what they like as they can’t understand lyrics but they understand rhythm. So it’s not difficult to attract people be it Indians or people abroad. For Indians we have multiple Indian flavours and for foreigners we have more instrument based compositions. Our zitar player also engages with them during the performance to check how much they are musically in rhythm and if people really like it,” says Singh.