Slideshow: Groundbreaking Fusion Band Indian Ocean Visits Berklee

By 
Rohith Jayaraman and Kimberly Ashton
October 11, 2017
Indian Ocean band members Nikhil Rao and Amit Kilam rehearse with the Berklee India Exchange (BIX) on September 27. Kilam called the visit to Berklee "some of the best days of my life. Such a happy vibe." He continued, "I love that in such a vast universe of musical knowledge and talent at Berklee, young kids are learning how to share, make friendships, and work with people, all with a smile. I wish I had a spent a month or two!"
Annette Philip, the artistic director of the BIX and director of the Berklee India Ensemble, leads a rehearsal with the band and the ensemble.
BIX guest tabla artist Giridaran Subramanian rehearses with Indian Ocean.
Berklee Indian Ensemble guitarist Yoel Genin B.M. ’16 prepares to play.
The Berklee Indian Ensemble rehearses with Indian Ocean at Berklee on September 27. Of the band's visit, student Avanti Nagral said, "It's rare to see stalwart musicians approach every time they perform a classic with such novelty and freshness, but that's exactly what Indian Ocean did. Refreshingly humble, quirky, and artistic, they were one of the coolest groups to get the opportunity to get to know, learn from, and grow with."
Indian Ocean band members Himanshu Joshi (left) and Kilam sing along with the Berklee Indian Ensemble arrangement of their song “Jhini.”
Philip, Joshi, and Kilam in the control room of the Record Company in Somerville as the band records its first takes.
Philip listens back to takes. Of the band, Philip said, "Indian Ocean was a game changer back in the day. They were the pioneers and courageously lived their truth in a time when independent music was unheard of. What a joy to interact, collaborate, and create with them. Each one immensely talented, yet unbelievably humble, generous, and kind. And the music? Earthy, soulful yet playful, and whimsical. It was a short residency, but we learned so much from our time with the band."
Joshi and bandmate Rahul Ram record scratch vocals in the control room as the rhythm section tracks in the studio.
Back, left to right: Yotam Ishay (accordion), Tuheen Chakravorty (Indian Ocean, tabla and percussion), Nikhil Rao (Indian Ocean, guitar), Himanshu Joshi (Indian Ocean, vocals), Yoel Genin (bouzouki), Rahul Ram (Indian Ocean, bass and vocals), Yair Amster (drums and percussion). Front row, left to right: Amogh Agarwal (acoustic guitar), Shai Portugaly (keyboard), Amit Kilam (Indian Ocean, drums, percussion, and vocals), Sharon Renold (electric bass), Annette Philip (founder and director, Berklee Indian Ensemble).
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Reed Silverstein
Image by Rohith Jayaraman
Image by Rohith Jayaraman
Image by Rohith Jayaraman
Image by Rohith Jayaraman

The band Indian Ocean, known for fusing Indian folk music and Western rock, stopped by Berklee recently to collaborate with the Berklee Indian Ensemble.

The band is currently on tour for the Association for India’s Development (AID) and had just a few days between shows in New Jersey and Connecticut. Band members were keen to collaborate with the Berklee Indian Ensemble and managed to make the trip to Boston for two days, September 27 and 28, in which time the ensemble rearranged and recorded one of Indian Ocean's songs, "Jhini." The first day of the trip was spent rehearsing with the ensemble at Berklee; the next day, the musicians recorded "Jhini" at the Record Company in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

Indian Ocean tabla player and percussionist Tuheen Chakravorty said that, initially, he didn't know what to expect from the ensemble, except for the videos he had seen of it, but that the collaboration was rewarding. "It was one of the best experiences for me, both as a human being and a musician. To see ideas, people, and different cultures float so freely and combine to make something so pure was wonderful. I hope we are back soon for an extended session," he said.