Sunday, March 22, 2015

Prakash Sontakke 13 Questions

Lineage and Gharana Prakash Sontakke belongs to the illustrious Gwalior Gharana. His father Dr RB Sontakke is one of the senior most disciples of Pt Omkarnath Thakur and his mother Dr Mani Sontakke is the disciple of Pt Lalmani Mishra. Both Dr R B Sontakke and Dr Mani Sontakke were Educators in Benaras Hindu University  for well over 40 years. Dr R B Sontakke and Dr Mani Sontakke established the Hindustani Sangeet Vidyapeeth in Bangalore where they have coached hundreds of students who are also busy performers in the field.

He's the only musician from Karanataka playing the Slide Guitar. A Co-Composer on a Grammy Winning  Album WINDS OF SAMSAARA and the only one to have won the Independent World Music Awards, USA and the Nashville Award for composers where his composition was chosen over the maestro Illayaraja. An A grade artiste from Akashvani and Doordarshan with over 2000 Concerts experience Prakash has toured extensively with his troupes namely  ”The Prakash Sontakke Group” (Neo Classical Fusion), International Trio “Lehera” (World Fusion ), “Moonarra” (Jazz and Classical fusion ), “New Life” on the lines of Sufi World Fusion with Ace Drummer and Percussionist Sivamani and noted Sufi Vocalist Runa Rizvi. “FOOD” (progressive Electronic Jazz crossover) where he performs with British Saxophone Maestro Iain Ballamy and the phenomenal Norwegian Drummer Thomas Stronen.More recently with the FIGURA ENSEMBLE from Denmark where he performs with a Mezzo-soprano, three musicians, a composer, a poet and an architect, FIGURA Ensemble is a musical collective with a mind of its own.Also share the honor of being a musician on  the NUMBER ONE SPOT on the BILLBOARD CHARTS 2014 ON RICKY KEJ AND WOUTER KELLERMANS album “WINDS OF SAMASARA”. Prakash features in ECM records on the album “MERCURIAL BALM” as a guest with the duo “FOOD”  also featured are Thomas Strønen, Iain Ballamy, Nils Petter Molvær, Eivind Aarset and Christian Fennesz.

Prakash features in the fusion album “THUNDER” with Narada Michael Walden, and he has also collaborated with Peru-born guitarist Ciro Hurtadoin his album ”AYAHUASCA DREAMS”
A festival dedicated to his illustrious parents Dr R B Sontakke and Dr Mani Sontakke Prakash organizes  this grand festival every where Top International Musicians of Western Classical, Jazz, Blues and Rock perform along with Top National Musician.

Prakash has innovated this instrument called “Swar Veena” on which he can play the Indian Raga Music as well as western sounding style.He also performs on his customised “TEAR DROP WEISSENBORN” made by Bill Asher Asher Guitars California apart from a Paul Beard signature ”Dobro”. Performing  Hindustani Classical Concerts on the Weissenborn and Dobro open a totally new chapter owing to the different Textures and  resonant sounds of these instruments.

Prakash prefers to play the Gayaki Ang (vocal style) which recreates the emotion of the human voice on the slide guitar. He has directed several Movies, Documentaries and Animation films and Jingles. He has been a part of Award winning Productions in Jingles as well as All India Radio. He is the recipient of the prestigious Aryabhatta Award, Ganayogi Panchakshari Gawai Award & Dr Puttaraj Gawai award.Haveri Award by Vinayak Seva Samiti. His creative explorations in Jazz and world music are deeply underlined by his classical training. He has performed his guitar  for  Several commercial cinemas in Hindi,Kannada,Malayalam,Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi Urdu, English including some European Theatre.

What do you remember about your first guitar?

My hard work and the time spent remains in my memory

What do you recall about your playing learning process?

A good mix of traditional teaching methods and a totally experimental brain constantly challenging everything lot of uneasiness and lot of confusion the process is still on...

What do you expect from music?

Nothing but peace

Which work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?

Mercurial Balm because of the Musicians around me in the studio who could extract so much more than me that I expected very much catching me by surprise

What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

Technique is the best tool for outlet of imagination

What is your relationship with the musical traditions of your country?

I am a student forever , an active learner and an active teacher

What’s the difference between a good instrument and a bad one?

There is nothing which can beat your imagination and yes of course a good instrument is the real factor which determines whether your imagination is going to make sense or not .... sometimes even
complimenting it .

What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?

You can hear your imagination but then you should have imagination

Define the sound you're still looking for.

Aah I can never describe this but one thing is for sure it changes in definition almost everyday

How would you define music?

An universal language which sounds good even when silent

What special or extrange techniques do you use?

I work a lot on sustain and its various uses , Harmonics fascinate me .

What's your best musical experience?

Playing for FOOD is by far the most fascinating one

Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

First one was Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd
Last one was Great Heritage Pt Omkarnath Thakur

Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?

...being clueless when I heard Pink Floyd playing Breathe with the same instrument that i was playing Indian Classical on surprised me so much

What’s your craziest project about?

Trying to combine really popular music to really classy music


Dream about your perfect instrument

I dont think it will happen, because every other day I find instruments which appear to be a dream come true only for a few days and then the dream takes a new shape... Still waiting...

What is your relationship with other disciplines such as painting, literature, dance, theater ...?

I am a reasonably good at drawing I am fond of literature , I like movements in Dance and I love theatre and find music in everything

Where are your roots? What are your secret influences?

almost every sound of my life and surroundings are my influences I am from a traditional Indian Classical music family My father was a Vocalist and a Violinist

What would you enjoy most in an art work?

The factor which goes beyond what is taught

What quality do you most empatize with in a musician?

Perseverance as a musician
Patience and observance as a listener

Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

In Living artists Daffer Yussuf, Keith Jarret, Jan Garbarek and in dead ones Rick Wright and Esjborn Swensson

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

Bob Brozman who told me how to use the full sound of the instrument
Steinar Gregertsen who told me to get a good instrument

What instruments and tools do you use?

Asher Guitars Lap Steels, A Customised Weissenborn, Dobro by Paul Beard, my own made SWAR VEENA
Pedals are
Strymon Reverb BIG SKY, EP Pedal Compressor, Boss EQ , TC electronics,  Ditto Looper , Strymon Mobius, Line 6 Echo Park , BOSS GT 6 , POG II, BOSS AC 2 , BOSS Delay , Shimverb

What do you like the most about being a musician?

The reach the emotion the Travels, The Exposure to so many cultures.

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

I am working on an album called PERCEPTIONS where I am bringing in lots of musicians to open up my compositions in their own unique way and see where it goes Future always holds out surprises and I always welcome surprises.