Quick Questions – Shri Sriram of The Third Orchestra

We look forward to Shri Sriram joining the star-studded line-up of The Third Orchestra! Ahead of their performance with Anna, Issa, and Matt on Thursday 30 March, we catch up with the multi-instrumentalist over some Quick Questions.

LJ: You have backgrounds in a variety of genres, from Indian classical music to electronica, to trip hop. Where did your musical influences originate, and how easy is it to blend various genres together?

SHRI: My influences are a collection through life till now. Starting with Indian classical at home as a child and learning to play the Tablas (Indian percussion). My parents and sister were also serious hobby musicians – both north and south Indian classical. At the same time, an uncle of mine brought us a five-vinyl set of Swan Lake and a cassette of The Ventures playing The Beatles tunes, instrumentally. Finally, Indian folk music on radio. So, pretty mixed always and it did not matter what genre I was listening to as long as it was interesting. Then it was hard rock like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin etc. as a teen, going into jazz like Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Eberhard Weber and more.

Coming to the UK in 1994 gave me a whole new set of influences like drum and bass, pop, and electronica. Finally, playing as a drum and bass duo, Badmarsh & Shri, and some key Norwegian Jazz musicians like Bugge Wesseltoft and Arild Andersen amongst many many more. 

I don’t consciously try to blend these, but have allowed them all to wash over me quite deeply. Eventually, what comes out is an expression that has hints of these – but not in their recognisable forms. I say that it is like speaking with an Indian accent – which I do – unable to separate the Indian part from the English part.

LJ: What was it that got you interested in playing bass, and what role does it play in a piece of music?

SHRI: Black Sabbath! I suddenly found my calling – in hindsight. Bass is key to my music as it sits in between rhythm, harmony and melody. It is influenced and influences them all at the same time. Also, I just love the tone of bass and the possibilities it presents. I made my bass myself, out of desperation to have an instrument, and also because I wanted to play it in unusual ways – which is what I will be doing at the performance. I have and play only that one bass! I have found ways to bring a lot of my influences to my style of bass playing, including percussion, bowing, melodic, and textural.

LJ: You featured in Day 1 of the co-composition workshop with Anna, Issa, and Matt. How were you able to bring all of your different backgrounds together to create a cohesive piece of musical work?

SHRI: I remember saying to Issa and Matt that how, with respect for each other and deep listening, a group of strangers end up becoming a unit – which is what happened. I played a note, Anna extended it with another and then suddenly we had a melody. Peter is also very good at allowing things to happen, and he came up with some great stuff. Matt brought an electronic side to things, which I am very used to, but was new in the The Third Orchestra vibe. Issa’s perceptive words were helping us all along. So, all in all, it was great day and I really look forward to playing this piece. 

LJ: What word would you use to describe your experience of working on The Ripple Effect so far?

SHRI: Ha! It actually felt like a ripple effect of ideas splashing into the ocean and spreading all round the room. Oh sorry, you said one word – ‘Inspired’

Discover how all these musical influences have inspired Shri’s bass playing in the ground-breaking project, The Ripple Effect with The Third Orchestra, on Thursday 30 March.

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