This week I got the opportunity to interview one of my favorite vocalists of the country, Priyanka Roy, An RJ-Turned-Schoolteacher from Calcutta. She’s one of the founding members of PULSE, and this is their first interview!
What is the ideology behind Pulse?
Freedom, and free expression. That’s why it allows a blend of songs, poetry, photography/visuals all together, in any language or format.
I can’t help but wonder if your group’s name is somehow inspired by pink Floyd. Is that so?
Yes, Pink Floyd is a major inspiration. But it isn’t how it all started. The name came to me when I was discussing a certain issue with my guru. He was explaining to me how the cosmos works. And the pulse of the universe that touches all as it streaks across.
That sounds fascinating! I noticed your group members keep changing. Is it like an ensemble with dynamic members?
Well, it’s not so much a band as it is a brand. It’s a platform where you can present ideas. I mean not just songs, but entire concepts. If child abuse is what our generation chooses to speak about, or homosexuality, just about anything, we would put together poems, photographs, graphics and songs on the same topic and put up a 3-4 minute piece about it. For instance, we have been performing my songs from a previous compilation. The whole set is about one guy, and his mental disorder and how he copes with it.
How long ago did the idea of creating pulse strike you?
About 3 years ago I tried out a similar thing with my band, as In the the group that I was playing with at the time, but that wasn’t as precise as this. That was more of a band playing a set, with a bit of this and that..
What sort of response have you received from the crowd?
It’s been good, but we haven’t gone full out with the planned format. We plan to experiment more.
I see your act is full of surprises, is it something like musical theater?
Yes, kind of. I love theater. And it’s been part of my life since I was 3 years old. I love the stage, and live acts of any kind are very dear to me.
Tell us about some of the performers you’ve had the opportunity of working with.
Well, I’ve had the good fortune of working with Shiva.. It used to be a great rage in the late 80’s. I also did a small time thing with Mr. Amyt Datta, which I cherish. I have always looked upto him and he keeps me alive on love to this day! And though I haven’t performed with Mr. Monojit Datta, Better known as Kochu da, he is my guru. He opened up the world of music to me, and gave me direction. Kochu Da and Amyt Da together have taught me all I know of music.
Kochu da jams with us (Students) during class, and I have had the good fortune of being part of those. That’s more than a stage performance, trust me, It’s a grill!
And apart from these, I’ve performed with most musicians in the city. Nitin Mani (supersonics) being a Good Friend and a Brilliant human being, from whom I’ve learned more with every gig.
Where do you place your cultural background in your music and poetry?
I’ve had a cross cultural upbringing. My father was born and bred in Burma. That brought in anglo influences. Alongwith Deep roots in Buddhism. The other part of the family has always belonged to Bengal, so I naturally inherited that. I went to a Hindu school, Christian college, and to a University where freedom is the only religion. I didn’t have to draw things to myself. All happened to seep in without effort. But like my music, I draw inspiration from apparently disconnected things and they come together effortlessly. I don’t really have to make an effort to put them together.
How has music influenced your life?
Well to be honest, for anything to influence you, it has to be outside of you. But music was always been very much a part of my life. I’m
never without it, it’s not external to my life. When I was very young, I’m told I had a burning fever. The only “therapy” I responded to, was a tune on the radio.
I had trained in dance, the keyboard and a bit of Indian Vocals when I was young. Though I was drifting from one form of art to another, I was basically always around rhythm somehow.
What drives your music more, your imagination or your experiences?
Imagination, because I take inspiration from my experiences, but it depends on interpretation, really. A dry leaf on the grass, is an experience. But it’s your imagination that helps you identify with it… a world, where everything flows.