Sithara Krishnakumar is a playback singer, composer, dancer and an occasional actor, known predominantly for her work in Malayalam cinema in addition to Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. Having been trained in Hindustani and Carnatic classical music traditions, and with her film background, Sithara is someone you might assume to be far away from the Indian independent music scene. With her rock act Project Malabaricus, she breaks all those assumptions with aplomb.
Project Malabaricus, is a rock act fronted by Sithara, that incorporates local flavour in their music. Formed in 2017, Malabaricus is known for its music with an ‘earthy’ nature and their music is environmentally themed. They have performed at over 50 stages, globally, since their short period of inception. The act consists of Liboy Praisly and Vijo Job on Guitars, Srinath Nair on Keys and vocals, Ajay Krishnan on Bass, Midhun Paul on Drums, alongwith Sithara on vocals, form Malabaricus. Recently, the band has released an EP called Rithu, which translates in English to season, which has created history as the first ever Malayalam project to be out in Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology developed by Dolby Laboratories that expands on existing surround sound systems by adding height channels, allowing sounds to be interpreted as three-dimensional objects.
The songs are musically stellar and environmentally-politically relevant. Arutharuthu, video above, is an anthem for the environment, a cry on behalf of nature, who is benevolent in giving us life. It says never exploit the surroundings we live in and practice sustainability. About how the band makes and produces their music, they say “The music making process has mostly been organic. We have no fixed set of processes which we undertake. The ideas mainly come out from random jam sessions, discussions, listening sessions and they finally shape into steps. We either start by recording a rough vocal take and slowly build up the instrumentation process by adding elements one after the other. The elements are mostly a result of a lot of jamming and picking up styles which suit the song. Our music comes primarily from our understanding and learning in Indian classical music and the arrangements from our listening and exposure to world music! The basic compositions lie somewhere between the transition space from the primitive folk to refined classical.”
What lies ahead in the future for them, the band comments “We plan on collaborations, with musicians with unique styles and music more aligned to our roots. Globally Malabar, as we call ourselves, we aim to make root level local content heard globally. Currently we are identifying the collaborators, we do have some in mind and listed. If all goes well, this would be the next offering from Malabaricus.” With the music industry in a constant flux, Sithara sees a bright future for indepedent music. She says “Independent music in India is a late bloomer. Barring a few Music experiments, the industry largely catered to Bollywood music untill a few years back.. however there is a paradigm shift and welcome change in perspectives. More musicians are coming to foray with thier original music. Labels and industry giants are more open to Independent music. So yes the future looks very bright.”