“The absolute most important thing to keep in mind is to check your egos. Melodic Intersect’s members range from different ages (30’s to 70’s) and different levels of experience and accomplishments. However, all the members check their egos when we come together to create our music. The second most important thing is to respect each other. We all have a varied set of philosophies and outlook on life but we never judge one another.”
Melodic Intersect is an ongoing music project that brings together a diversity of musical styles, cultures,and disciplines. It features collaborations from a rotating ensemble of talented musicians thoughtfully integrating rhythm and melody from genres such as Jazz, North Indian Classical, Rock, Eastern and Western Folk, and many more.
SKILLY: How is it like working with such a diverse group? How did Melodic Intersect form and what bonded you guys together?
MI: I We really never thought about this because every one of us thinks music is a universal language itself. We have always reached beyond race and religion. We have musicians from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, USA and Trinidad and we look at each other as musicians and nothing else and so the common factor is the music itself and that is what essentially bonds us together. We don’t ever talk about politics, world events because our goal is to create music that reaches beyond these limits. It causes no conflicts and we have no message other than love and peace, at least that is what we hope our music conveys. The group itself was formed by Enayet Hossain, the lead percussionist in the group who wanted to just bring together the artists he has played with all his life with only a goal to record music which the members of the group wanted to play.
How do you guys keep sane when there are so many opinions and views from everyone in the band? How do you guys stay grounded together?
Opinions and views about the direction we want a particular album or performance to go is always a challenge. However, each one of us puts our egos aside and come to an agreement. We have 5 albums under our belts and can proudly say we have never had any arguments or real disagreements about the direction of our music. You can find that compositions are composed by various members of the band and we are willing to listen to each other’s ideas openly. One thing we do is never say no to each other. If one person doesn’t like something we try to put our own opinions and come up with alternative ways of making that composition relevant to Melodic Intersect’s vision.
You guys have been very successful touring together. What are some of the most memorable experiences together?
Actually, since all of the band members are located in different countries throughout the world we really have not gotten a chance to tour significantly together. There is a lot of costs associated and logistics behind bringing everyone together. We have done performances but we use the people who are available at the time since we have over 40 tracks spread into 5 albums we can use the tracks that will be suited to the group members who are together. We are not a super group yet who can command big money to be able to bring everyone together yet, but we are confident we will get there one day.
Tell us about your latest project “Looking Back.” What can we expect to hear from this project?
Melodic Intersect’s journey stared with sitar player Anjan Chattopadhyay (India), jazz pianist Greg Hatza (USA) and tabla/percussionist Enayet Hossain (USA). We had some free time back in 2010 and decided to just get together and create a live album. This album was EASTERN VISIONS (http://melodicintersect.com/release/eastern-visions/) and we recorded it live with tabla, sitar, piano, bass guitar and congas. The compositions were composed on the day of the recording and it took us one day to completely compose and record it. So in a way that was a very minimalistic approach to the fusion genre. That was released without any promotions and fanfare and we walked away from it after release. A few months after the release, album sales started increasing organically and we started getting offers to tour. However, our sitar player, Anjan Chattopdhyay was based in India. We could not bring him here for one concert and fly him back for another concert 2 months later. It was not cost effective and so we chose not to do any of the concerts. It is at this time we decided not to restrict ourselves and make this a group consisting of members that would be rotating. Inner Vision (http://melodicintersect.com/release/melodic-intersect-inner-vision/) was a also recorded live and utilized the hammered dulcimer, the santoor. We moved on to Global Vision (http://melodicintersect.com/release/meodic-intersect-global-vision/) which was recorded partly live and then tracked with other elements. This album was heavily orchestrated and had a lot of elements which were added during post production. The last album before Looking Back, One Vision (http://melodicintersect.com/release/one-vision/) had a mix of live recording, post production tracking and we tried to include a variety of sounds. Looking Back is a nod to our first album Eastern Visions where we wanted to go back to the minimalistic approach. It is very simple and doesn’t have a lot of arrangements; essentially everything was recorded live.
Looking back at all the things you guys accomplished as a group, what do you feel bonds you all together other than the love of music?
We think the reason Melodic Intersect works as a group is because we don’t have a high bar of expectations behind it. We simply create music we enjoy and love and never thought of mainstream appeal. If the sounds appealed to us as a group, we recorded it. Some of our tracks are 12 – 15 minutes and most radio stations do not play such extended tracks. We really thought no one would ever play some of the tracks on One Vision, but were pleasantly surprised when we charted on CMJ charts. The main thing that keeps us bonded together is the fact no one has an ego in the group. We come together, record these amazing albums and then walk away and resume our own individual projects. There is no talk of making money and needing the album to chart on billboards or getting it played on every radio station. We are really happy if we just get a few mentions in a blog or if someone reaches out to our website and compliments our music. We have had many people just randomly reach out to us to tell us how much they just loved the albums. One fan told us they use the album every night to fall asleep because it provides this person peace and comfort. That was the biggest compliment we could get because that is our aim; to make our listeners forget about everyday life and the events that go on in this rather crazy world of ours. By no means are we bombarded by people telling us how much they love us because we don’t have that kind of mass following but even one person a month or one every 2 months is sufficient for us to think that we have done our job!
Does everyone in Melodic Intersect work full time as musicians?
Yes, every musician on our roster is a full time musician. We come from different walks of life and from different genres of music.
What are some of your outside hobbies away from playing. Do any of you have families and such?
Honestly, our range of ages is from 30’s to 70’s! So everyone is well seasoned and have families or girlfriends and are well grounded. All are college educated individuals and we have a variety of hobbies including video games, sports etc. Greg Hatza, is a well-known martial artist and runs a school in Baltimore. Enayet studied Computer Science in school and develops websites and programs for other people whenever he gets the chance.
It seems like you all have very successful solo careers as well brewing. Can you tell me about the music outside of Melodic Intersect?
Greg Hatza is a Hammond B3 jazz organist and is a well-known artist in the jazz circuit. Very well accomplished he has a number of CD’s released from the 60’s onwards. Greg has also studied Indian classical music for over 15 years. Enayet is an Indian classical tabla player and has over 40 CD releases featuring him and has accompanied some of the top Indian musicians throughout the world. He is also an author and creator of Sangeetpedia (http://www.sangeetpedia.com), the first multimedia encyclopedia of Indian music. Hidayat Khan is a virtuoso sitarist coming from a long line of sitarists; he represents the 7th generation of the top sitarists of India. His father, Ustad Vilayat Khan (http://www.vilayatkhan.com) is considered the most renowned sitarist of India. He is a contemporary of Ravi Shankar and 99% of the current sitar players follow his style rather than Shankar’s style of sitar. Anjan Chattopadhyay, is a classical sitarist based in Kolkata, India and is very well known for his playing in India. Zohaib Hassan is a sarangi player based in Pakistan and is considered one of the 5 top in the world. Tarun Bhattacharya is well known for his Indian classical santoor playing and is a disciple of Raci Shankar. He has played with Shankar, George Harrison and Zakir Hussain in numerous concerts throughout the world. He is considered the top 2 santoor players in the world today. Indradeep Ghosh, is based in Kolkata, India and can be considered amongst the top 5 Indian classical violinist from India today. Fred Koch, who is based in northern Virginia is a n accomplished sax player. He has played in many bands throughout the east coast and is a well-known figure in the region. Hans utter is a master guitarist and a well-known lecturer in Indian classical music. Hans, is a fantastic arranger and composer and can play equally well in different genres such as metal, rock, funk, jazz and Indian classical music. Avirodh Sharma is a percussionist from Trinidad. Avirodh plays in many genres of music including fusion and theater. He has a large music school based in Queens, NY.
What advice can you give to other groups? What is the best way to harmonize and work together seemlessly like yourselves?
The absolute most important thing to keep in mind is to check your egos. Melodic Intersect’s members range from different ages (30’s to 70’s) and different levels of experience and accomplishments. However, all the members check their egos when we come together to create our music. The second most important thing is to respect each other. We all have a varied set of philosophies and outlook on life but we never judge one another. We are supportive of one another and always try to hear out each other’s viewpoints. The last thing we absolutely abide by is to always talk about music. World politics, headlines are important but we are a musical group and we get together to make music so we avoid anything controversial.
What advice can you give to the younger hip generation of musicians? From your experiences, what would you like to tell them?
In order to be a musician there are tremendous sacrifices to be made. By no means are we all millionaires living off our music. Some of us are comfortable and some of us aren’t, however we have a deep rooted love for music. We don’t do it for fan following, or YouTube likes and Facebook likes. We do it because we simply cannot live without our music. Fame is something everyone wants and we do as well but if we don’t get it we won’t feel unaccomplished. We put forth our best and perhaps we will disappear in the future but at least we can say we all tried our best and we are content because a few people have listened to us and even liked our music. The pursuit of fame and money will leave you feeling regretful at the end of your life if you have not achieved “success”. Success is relative and every group member so far has been very satisfied with where our group is today and feel we have achieved success even though we are not playing to sold out venues. As long as we live we breath, eat and live music. There is a quote that was made by the legendary Indian sitarist, Ustad Vilayat Khan who was known to practice 8 – 10 hours a day even till his death at 75 which perfectly sums up a life in music. “Give 10% of your effort to music and music will give you back 100% but in order for you to give that 10% of effort into your music, you will have to spend 100% of your life.” – Ustad Vilayat Khan.
Visit the official website of Melodic Intersect at melodicintersect.com