Would love to work with Indian classical music: The Cat Empire

Nashik, Feb 7 (IANS) With an array of influences ranging from ska to jazz to funk, Australian band The Cat Empire has carved their own niche in the global scene. Now, lead vocalist and percussionist Felix Riebl says he would “love” to incorporate Indian classical music if he gets that opportunity.

“I’d love to work with Indian classical music, but I don’t know how and when. I have also loved being in this band because it has introduced me to so many types of music and I really value that a lot. I would really like to do something with it. Some of it is so kicking. If I get the opportunity, I will love to come back,” Riebl told IANS on the sidelines of the ninth edition of the SulaFest here, where the band made their debut Indian show on Saturday night.

Riebl confessed his love for Indian classical music, especially the timeless melodies of late sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar.

“I have listened to Indian classical music before. When I am on tour, I like listening to Pandit Ravi Shankar. It is very beautiful listening to it. It cleans my mind. It is more of an enthrallment right now. But I don’t know much about it, so I’d like to explore it. This gig may be the first step towards getting more interested in it,” he said.

However, Riebl confessed that fusing western forms of music with Indian classical style isn’t an easy task and that it is “dangerous” to generalise some of the instruments like tabla and sitar.

“The very little I know about Indian classical music, like tabla and sitar, is that it works on cycles and takes a lot of time to learn and it is very intuitive with rhythms that come up based on a world that I don’t know and I wouldn’t to pretend to know,” the 34-year-old said.

“I think it is too dangerous to generalise instruments. I would do my best to try and avoid that and try and learn something. Sometimes it is very nice to listen and learn and discover that the two styles don’t want to marry as they do their own thing,” he added.

Riebl also seeks pleasure in the diversity of the audience that usually attend The Cat Empire’s show globally as it brings “together different people.”

“One of the great things about this band is the crowd is very diverse. Not one type of audience comes. A lot of young people come and a lot of old people come. To me that is a nice musical atmosphere,” the 34-year-old added.

The Cat Empire has existed since 1999 and after all these years of playing and recording music, Riebl admits he likes to “listen more” and release less albums.

“We live in a very noisy music landscape and maybe it is just being around for a long time, but I like listening to music. I only like the sounds that are really interesting, but sometimes the mistakes I have made is that I released something for the sake of it because you love. Now I really value listening more and not put out too much,” he said.

Riebl, who is in India with his band for the first time, is “excited” and “thrilled” to be visiting the country.

“It is my first time in India and first time in SulaFest. I am very excited, it is an amazing country. Being here is a thrill,” he said.

Riebl also confessed that he “never” associated India with wines, and SulaFest, which is happening at the lush green Sula Vineyards here, gives him the opportunity to explore this aspect of the country.

The Cat Empire has finished working on their new album “Rising With the Sun”, which will release on March 4.

“We just finished a new album. The last time we made a record, we thought it was a return to form. The intent of the album is to create a festive atmosphere. We will do a world tour, but maybe we won’t come to India this year,” he said.

(The writer’s visit was sponsored by the festival’s organisers. Ankit Sinha can be contacted at ankit.s@ians.in)

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