Indian Music Lovers Still Not Ready for Completely Original Concert: OOTR

 - Sakshi Post

Manchala, a new song from the independent boy band Oxygen On the Rocks (OOTR), is being launched by Hungama Artist Aloud. Reshmi AR caught up with the band members for an exclusive interaction on their journey so far. 

Why did you name your band Oxygen On The Rocks | OOTR?

The band had started its journey in 2006 back in Kolkata when it was called Oxygen. When the band regrouped in 2015 in Bangalore it was decided to play in a progressive rock genre fused with folk and indie which was the original style of the band. Hence 'Rocks' had to be added to the name. Moreover, Bangalore is the pub capital of India so 'Oxygen On The Rocks' felt like an apt name, where Oxygen(a symbol of life) is served undiluted!

How is the music scene in Bengaluru when compared to Delhi or Mumbai?

Bangalore being an IT hub of the country has people from all over the country; hence a wide range of audiences to cater to. The core pre-dominant music has always been pure Carnatic or Western band culture till the early 21st century. As the city boomed there is more and more demand for Hindi and Indie music started growing and presently Bangalore listens to everything! Bangalore has a very energetic crowd to rock it with the band every chance they get!

How many gigs have you performed so far and where?

Till now OOTR has performed at over 400 gigs across the nation in cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Trivandrum, Pune, Kolkata, Jaipur, Pushkar, Ooty, Mysore, and ofcousre, Bangalore.

How is the response to an independent band?

The response to an independent band is extremely good especially the young crowd of the country but there lies a harsh truth! Every band is always requested to play covers and Bollywood numbers along with originals and the people of India are still not ready for a completely original concert. We know that this story goes a long way but OOTR has pledged to keep this fight on to bring the independent music scene at par with mainstream music.

How do you define desi rock music? Is there a scope for this genre to gain momentum?

Desi Rock music is just rock music fused with pure desi elements in terms of instruments, arrangement, and composition. For instance, we play the drums and electric guitar in a truly rock format along with the tabla, dholak, or Punjabi dhol!

Yes! there is a huge scope for this genre to gain momentum, rather we believe this genre has already made its way in the industry in some projects even with great musicians like A.R. Rahman, Arijit Singh, and more. Hence we have coined the name.

All of you are from Bengal, is there a Bengali folk influence in your work?

Yes, there is a great influence of Bengali folk music in our work. Bengali folk and Hindustani classical music are some of our major inspirations for the 'desi' part in our 'desi rock' genre! We have also launched a project called 'OOTR live Outdoor Jam Sessions' where we perform Bengali folk numbers uncut and unedited with the raw sound of acoustic folk instruments.

Tell us about your Kannada projects. How has the reception been?

Our Kannada projects have majorly been for the film industry as they have received lots of love from the people of Karnataka. We are thankful to music director Mr. Sudheer Shastry for connecting us to the Kannada Film Industry. We have also worked on independent projects such as 'Namaste Bengaluru' with Mr. Raghu Dixit and we are thankful to him for having us on board. A special mention to Cinematographer Mr. Annechira Shiva, who has been a key to pushing us to cross our limits to do better & more.

Tell us about your collaborations with other bands

We are a band that is always keen on collaborations and we have done so with multiple bands across India on multiple occasions. We wrote & released a motivational song called Dooriyan during the intense Covid-19 situation and collaborated with bands such as Thaikuddam Bridge (Siddarth Menon, Kerala), Lakhhichara (Rajiv Mitra, Gaurab Chatterjee (Gabu) Kolkata), Aurko (Supratik Ghosh, Bangalore), The Void (Felsy Royer, Bangalore) produced by White Mars(Rob Sorasiam, True Art Factory - Bangalore).

Dooriyan was later re-modeled & re-released as UMMEED #mitjayengidooriyan when JK Cement Ltd. approached us and wanted to take it up as their CSR Theme Song. It was another mentionable experience to work with Shaan (Bollywood Singer) who loved the song while sharing with & happily lending his vocals.

Is your music all about masti or do you also perform for social causes?

Masti has never been the trigger word for any of us pertaining to music. For us music is Life, music is everything! Music has always been food for thought, soul for life, passion for living, medium for our inner voice, and the glue to our friendship. Therefore it is undeniably obvious that we do music for social causes, our playlist will speak for itself! 

With Netflix, Amazon, and corona fear, do you think live concerts are a distant dream?

Although it felt so for a while, especially during the 2nd wave of Covid-19, as India fights back, we do not think that live concerts are a distant dream because the live experience of a band is irreplaceable. It is like a first kiss or birth of a child. Technology can only aid and enhance it but the true feeling and experience will remain at the concert, in front of an electrifying stage! We are sure we'll be able to stronghold our defenses against the pandemic and we might not have to see such circumstances again.

Have you done online concerts?

Oh Yes! We have done multiple online concerts post the total lockdown times. We have performed live from the studio for Corporates such as Amazon India, Licious, HP India, MoneyView& many more with 1000+ audiences and interacted with them as well.

How different is it performing to a live audience Vs a virtual audience

The experience of a virtual concert is not the same as performing to a live audience but when the safety of people is a primary concern things need to be prioritized. One added advantage of online concerts was that we could connect to a huge audience pan India at the same time. However, to talk about the feel, nothing beats the experience of a Live Concert!

Social media has narrowed the gap between artists and fans. Has it helped in any way?

Yes absolutely! Social Media has revolutionized & changed the whole scene for any Artist! Today for any Artist it is so easy to connect to the audience directly and be heard.

The term "Hit" has transformed to "Viral" and the audience has options to choose content as per their taste & mood rather than being fed by someone!

What next for the band?

The Band has multiple things in the pipeline for 2022, including new Singles, Corporate Theme & movie projects at hand. Three words, ‘exciting times ahead!

Let’s, keep some bit as suspense and let time unFold the story!!’

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