The Fusion Project is a novel initiative with which the band is attempting to breathe a new life into the Indian classical music. With a unique and perfect blend of Indian classical art and Western music, the group has been able to surprise its audiences throughout. Based in Oxford, London, the band is establishing a new fan base for he Indian classical and fusion music.
We got a chance to interact with Rushil, the lead singer and songwriter for the band and a self taught musician who honed his craft through gigging in bars and clubs as a teenager. After being signed at 15, he went on to release a solo record that eventually went on to become number one on itunes. After taking a short hiatus to do his degree at Oxford, he has returned to the music scene with The Fusion Project. With The Fusion Project, he hopes to immerse himself in the depth of Indian classical music while providing a platform to make it accessible to his generation.
How did the idea of The Fusion Project came about? Who was the brain behind the band?
The idea came about a couple of years ago when I was introduced to Praveen Prathapan, our flautist, through the Oxford Indian Classical Arts Society. At the time, I had absolutely no real knowledge of Indian Classical music, or Indian music at all really. I’d spent years playing the blues and pop scene but had never really played with anything so traditional and eclectic. There was as a pretty instant connection as soon as we started playing. I’d previously encountered musicians who could either play with a lot of feeling or play technically, this guy- and every other member of the project- can do BOTH.
We both loved the idea of the style of music being made accessible for the first time. To me, the complex classical melodies and rhythms sounded amazing over even the simplest and most easy-listening-type Western sequences.
Your website indicates that the band has 9 members including Indian and foreign artists. How did the band come together and was it difficult to convince the members about this unique idea?
It sounds insane but we we kind of stumbled upon all our musicians. That’s some crazy luck and coincidence right there. Our Tabla player aside, we were all students at the University of Oxford so we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I don’t think it was difficult, we never really pitched it as joining this great big professional outfit. We just enjoyed playing together and we kind of realised that people enjoyed listening to us too… it kind of went from there really.
I’m not going to pretend that we don’t look out for things that are quite well known. It’s obviously a factor but I think the most important element is whether a song gives us the space to be as creative as we want to be within it. I always want as much space within a song for improvisation, that usually lets us do what we do best.
Its not stereotyped so much as it is unknown out here. There have been remarkable steps towards awareness over the past couple of years but its still quite a niche thing. That’s why I love what we do. I love that something so different, that seemed to be reserved for a tiny percentage of music listeners, can be made so accessible to everyone.
Who is your target audience? Today’s youth in India or outside has shifted away from classical to EDM & Rap. Do you think fusing Indian classical with contemporary western music would instill a new lease of life into the art?
Well if you look at it, its not like there’s no link between classical music and the music of today. So many rhythms and scales that are used today draw really heavily from classical music. Do you know how many pop songs are loaded with the charukesi raga? Loads. I had no idea until my classical bandmates schooled me. So we’re not really bringing out something new and totally unfamiliar, just reminding people of what they’re already listening to. I guess if you were discussing a target audience, I’d say everyone really, I try not to put a cap on what the band can foray into. In the future there may come a time when we look into doing some rap stuff. Eventually there’ll be something for everyone.
We’ve gotten so much love and support since we started, its actually overwhelming. I can’t believe how fast it’s all been. Sold out shows, 11000 fans on Facebook, it’s been an amazing trip. I almost cant believe that people like this music as much as I do. Its an amazing feeling.
We’d love to. That’s the ultimate aim in a lot of ways. Bringing this music back to it all began would be an amazing privilege. We’re waiting till we’re just about ready to take it on. As soon as we are you’ll be hearing from us!
We would really like to thank The Fusion Project for this interaction.
Do let us know how did you like the interview and whom else would you want to read about through us.
We leave you with the band’s version of “Hello” by Adele.