Kutle Khan wants to nurture the music of his community by backing local folk artistes from Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer
Even after mastering eight instruments and touring over 70 nations as performer, Kutle Khan, one of Rajasthan's most famous Folk artistes, scouted for musicians in villages across Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur to form his first band in 2011. Born in the Manganiyar community of musicians, he imbibed the intricate rhythmic patterns of Rajasthani Folk music at an early age. Ahead of a gig in the city, the 31-year-old discusses his craftsmanship and commitment to his musical tribe back home. Excerpts from an interview:
Kutle Khan with his band of musicians
What is the band's set at the upcoming gig?
Our forte lies in rearranging traditional songs in a modern format. We have versions of Kesariya Balam, Chhap Tilak and Banjara, an original song I wrote recently. There will of course, be Moomal for which I won the GIMA award. Let the rest remain a surprise.
You've been performing in India and abroad since 2000; what took you so long to form a band?
After working with artistes like Kailash Kher, Midival Punditz and Susheela Raman, I wanted to have a band of my own, and showcase the hidden musicians of Rajasthan on the global stage. I have set up a school in Jaisalmer under the name, The Kutle Khan Project, where kids are trained in music from a young age. It was done to preserve the musical tradition of the Manganiyars.
Weren't you keen to have an international musician on board?
I do have an element of Fusion in my music but I always wanted to feature people from my district and the adjoining areas for local flavour. I wanted to bring them out of their homes. I have at least 40 people working with me now. I work with them in turns, depending on the nature of the concert.
How would you describe the sound of the band?
This is Rajasthani Folk with a bit of Sufi and Fusion. I have also introduced the saxophone and flute to add some colour the genre.
From whom did you learn music, the instruments and how long did it take?
I didn't really count how many people I learnt from. In our tradition, every child is taught to play with musical instruments. We didn't have any other toys. I learnt it by breathing the air of Rajasthan; even my father could play all of them.
What are the common subjects in Rajasthani Folk music?
There are wedding songs, tunes for birthdays and also, separation. There is a song for every season.
What is your future plan for the band?
I am working on my debut album that includes traditional as well as original songs from Rajasthan. My target is to release it by next January.
On: May 17, 9.30 pm onwards
At: Fun Republic Social, Plot No 844/4, Fun Republic Mall, Andheri (W)
Cost: Rs 300
Know the Manganiyars
The Manganiyars are Muslim Folk musicians from Jaisalmer, Barmer, parts of Jalore, Bikaner and Jodhpur. They have been providing musical service to their patrons to receive cattle, camels, goats or cash as gifts. The music is maintained through oral tradition.
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