Distinct and distinguished, Indian Ocean’s sound has held sway over the country’s musical landscape for 30 long years. Borrowing influences from all over the world, the band’s core sound is firmly rooted in India’s heartland.
In December 2019, the band—currently a five-member collective comprising bassist Rahul Ram, guitarist Nikhil Rao, drummer Amit Killam, tabla player Tuheen Chakravarty, and singer Himanshu Joshi—opened the first edition of the Mandu Festival in the ancient fort city of Mandu, Madhya Pradesh. Before the band took stage, I caught up with them about their experiences of travelling the world—one musically-rich city at a time.
What are your recommendations for destinations where one can experience rich musical heritage and live music?
NR Pune is one of the most interesting music cities in India. You have the NH7 festival, which is ground zero for young bands, and you have great Hindustani classical shows like the Vasantotsav. There’s also a really thriving Marathi film industry there too, which produces great music.
RR Not to mention theatre.
NR We play in Pune 4-5 times a year—right from college shows to open air stage shows and sit-down auditorium concerts. Kerala too, has become very interesting for music. Quite a few exciting bands from Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram who do everything from classical fusion to straight up rock ‘n’ roll. An absolute must-visit is Chennai. Around December-January every year, it hosts the Margazhi Music Festival. Throughout the two weeks or so, there’s close to a hundred Carnatic musical acts performing every day. Big names like Extreme, Marty Friedman and Mr. Big have come down to and played at music festivals and free concerts in the Northeast. The tragedy is very few know about these festivals. Also, there is a great homegrown music scene in the region because of gospel and church singing.