Rock Band,
Pioneers of Rock
Fusion Music in India,
Social Activists

People looking at becoming musicians should play/sing… every day and keep doing it for the rest of their lives… To date, we still practise every single day.

Indian Ocean is the sound of music for an entire generation of head-banging Indians who were discovering how cool “going back to your roots” was, circa the nineties. Formed in 1990, the band went onto create their own genre that found an apt definition in one critic’s description of it as “Indo-rock fusion with jazz-spiced rhythms that integrates shlokas, Sufism, environmentalism, mythology and revolution.” They’ve since played to international acclaim, with their album Kandisa (2000) featured in Rolling Stone magazine. The band has always been a strong voice of revolt in areas of human rights and environmental concerns, in particular – one of their most active participation being with Medha Patkar for the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Amit-AshimaYadava-LRDid you ever want to change the world?

We still hope the world will change and change for the better. We have never wanted to change for it to suit us, we just hope the world will change and stop hurting each other and we will continue to hope, pray and work towards it the best way we can – by making music.

What sort of education or training is an absolute essential for your profession? Also, could you share with us the kind of experience that would be helpful for a young person considering this line of work?

Out of the five people in the band right now, three are totally untrained and two are trained and when the band had started 25 years ago, from among the original line up of the four, none were trained. But we learnt from each other and also from other people along the way.

Training in any profession is always good of course, but in music, it’s not what your brain knows that matters, it’s how you express what your heart feels that matters the most. People looking at becoming musicians should play/sing do whatever they do every day and keep doing it for the rest of their lives.

To date, we still practise every single day.


It’s one of the only professions in the world that makes people listening to you cry and smile at the same time. What could be better than doing something that gives people joy?

What do you do when you are stuck with a problem?

Move on.

If you simply had to draft that elevator pitch for your profession, what would it be?

It’s one of the only professions in the world that makes people listening to you cry and smile at the same time. What could be better than doing something that gives people joy?

Rahul-1-ashima Yadava LRWhat are the new trends you notice that are changing the complexion of your profession?

More power is now in the hands of the creators, which is fantastic.

When we’re in school, we’re told cheating is bad – ‘Don’t talk to each other, don’t discuss.’ And then as we come out of it, we begin to realize that there’s something called “collaborative thinking” and it’s not bad! What’s your opinion?

We were are and will always be a traditional jam band which means that there is not one person writing all the songs. So we are the biggest proponents of “collaborative thinking”.

How do you overcome roadblocks in your profession?

Like in any other profession – through perseverance.

Tuheen- Shatabdi Chakrabarti LR

Describe a typical (business-as-usual) day and an atypical (screw-up-fairy-lives-here) day “at work”.

Typical days are full of early morning flights and no sleep, but tons of laughter. And that’s how the atypical or bad days are as well.

If you could do some time-travelling and go back to meet yourself at 17, 25, 35, what would you say to your selves then?

The same thing – “Don’t worry, it all works out if you work hard enough.”

What would your advice be to a young person at the start of his or her career and confused about pursuing passion versus being pragmatic?

Why should pragmatism suffer due to passion or vice versa? How much is enough is a personal decision but for us, making music and being happy with what we have, while striving for more is good.


It’s about the basics – If you are a guitar player, read guitar books. If you are a drummer, watch drumming videos. 

Himanshu-Shatabdi Chakrabarti LR

What are the pitfalls of your profession and how do you mitigate them? Did you have any fears when you were just starting out about this line of work, and were any of them justified?

We were never really scared because when we started we were all pretty old! 🙂

Pitfalls are listening to people who claim to be well-wishers but are actually pretty clueless about music.

Is there any supplementary informal learning that you do as musicians, which can give you an edge? Is there any specific reading that you engage in, or perhaps any learning that happens in workshops etc.?

It’s about the basics – If you are a guitar player, read guitar books. If you are a drummer, watch drumming videos.

What is most rewarding about your job?

That it does not feel like a job ever.

Photo Credits: Ashima Yadava, Shatabdi Chakrabarti, Deepak Raman
Interview conducted by Pooja Pande.