Up Close and Personal: Paradigm Shift

“They treated us like celebrities. We aren’t!”

On the evening of October 12, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus, gave way to its obsession with fusion-progressive-rock, yet again. Stepping into the shoes of the madly popular Agam, was definitely a task that meant that Paradigm Shift had their work cut out for them.

“Agam has their own style of classical music and we have our own, and we personally love what Agam does. We are good friends, and we played with them in 2011 in Bangalore. But at the end of the day, we are not a fusion band, we are a progressive rock band.”

The concert that put Paradigm Shift on the calendar, though, was their performance in Mood Indigo 2012. I was one of the privileged few who attended the concert, and the way they rocked out was – I can use no other word – impressive. There’s just something about classical music that makes it sleep-inducing to the best of us, and that’s what bands like Paradigm Shift attempt to fix.

Purists don’t come in the way of their music, though. “We are a progressive rock band,” notes Kaushik. What he means by that is that classical music is merely his inspiration for what he believes to be beautiful music, and that Paradigm Shift don’t attempt, in any way, to create classical music.

Paradigm Shift has this array of songs that is definitely unique, if nothing else. For instance, one of their songs, Qaid, is about the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Kaushik believes that it was the greatest movie ever made, and that he just couldn’t go without making a tribute to it. Personally, I felt that Qaid was a song that deserved more attention: rock riffs interspersed with quotes from the movie are a concept so unique that we could have spent our time better appreciating the song instead of waiting for them to perform Roja.

No one seems to do that, though. Kaushik says, “When we started off, trust me we were all terrified. Personally, I didn’t want to do it… because it was A.R. Rahman’s, but these guys had the idea, I heard it and… I said let’s do this.”

“But the thing is, we shouldn’t be recognized by that song.”

“We would rather be recoginzed by the album that we released, our stuff… that we compose and wrote. But then, Roja is a special song and we were called for that on several occasions. It put us on the map, it was this Blue Frog video that went viral and we became famous because of it.”

Crowd obsessions about single songs is nothing new in the world of music: Beatles were pissed off about that, Guns ‘n’ Roses broke up due to that, and Kurt Cobain killed himself for that… And being obsessed about a song that isn’t really their kind of music, isn’t what they want to achieve… it is a little sad.

But it’s not all about the crowd, according to Kaushik. “We compose music for ourselves first, and the audience next. Always. The primary reason behind that is: we need to stand behind it first, and be confident enough so that we can perform on stage.”

The concert was an underwhelming 46 minutes long, and the sound mixing and overall acoustics were – to use the kindest adjective – regrettable.

All said and done, they’re a band that is still in the process of figuring it out. Most of their knowledge about music comes from the stage – they are proponents of the learn-enough-to-perform-and-then-let-the-stage-mould-you school of music, and they are brave enough to admit that. “We have a long way to go,” they say. “We’re still figuring it out.”

On a different note, they were nothing short of impressed, when it came to hospitality. “We aren’t celebrities, but they treated us like celebrities. The hospitality was amazing. You guys have treated us like rockstars. Personal thanks to Shivam and the gang for making our stay really enjoyable.” DOSH, take a bow.

Sai Ram Tangirala
and
Arvind Badri

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