Ajit JohnEveryone talks about the music scene in Goa. The presence of so many bands playing in various clubs sounds like great fun. And yes it is for a large section of the population. But there is also an audience who would like to listen to original music. Not for them Stephen Fernandes singing his version of a popular song by Ricky Martin. Stephen may have done justice to the version but for the discerning paying crowd that’s not what they want. Now perhaps there is some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. There are musicians in the state who increasingly prefer to sing their own songs.Aviv Pereira who sings his own compositions and plays the guitar has been a resident in Goa since 2013. His style is a composite of his influences which range from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Steve Vai and Santana. He already has an album with 12 songs of which 8 will be released soon. He has the Aviv Projekt his band for original compositions and the Clear Blue Sky cover band. He said he liked his music to reflect his love for rock, R&B and soul music. Aviv said “These are my comfortable genres. I am a blues rocker and for my slow songs they are invariably r&b inspired. During live shows, I sneak in my originals occasionally. I am an entertainer and I play for the people. If I am playing in a restaurant, I am ok if the audience is not paying attention. They are there to have a great time and have some food”. He said as long as he could play the music he wanted for the rest of his life he would have no problems.Another musician who is in Goa and sings only in Urdu, writes and composes his songs is Mrinal Casewa. A one time entrepreneur who sold his business and now lives off his investments, Mrinal has 18 songs in his kitty. He spends four hours every day practicing and is based in the state to play and hopefully play in music festivals around the country and hopefully the world. He said “I don’t think about the money but I stay focused on singing my own compositions.”Prashant Edwin is like many Goans before him. He travelled the country, lived in Delhi, played in a band and returned home. A music composer who thinks of himself as an alternative pop musician, he is presently working on something big in Konkani which he intends to unveil shortly. He composed music for a Bollywood movie called Kandy Twist. Speaking about the music scene, he said the fee structure for gigs was terrible and it was not his ambition to stay performing in bars. He admitted there was a very small audience for the kind of music he played but it was slowly growing. In that there was hope. Valerie D Silva was based in Mumbai and decided to shift to Goa six years ago. A singer, song writer who plays the guitar and keyboard has written 30 songs and plays them live. She intends to record an album in Goa shortly. Her songs are based on her personal experiences. She said “I am learning from life. I have been playing from the time I was a kid and I wrote my first song at 11. My first gig was at Blue Frog in 2013”. Speaking about her experience in Goa she said she loved performing in the state. Valerie said “In Goa, people appreciate musicians. It has been great. When I get called for gigs, I make it clear, I will only do originals and under no circumstances will I do covers. And they are fine. In 2019, I travelled all of India and went right up to the north east. I managed to pay my own way. I was on the road for three months. There is a scene and you need to tap into the right people. I prefer intimate gigs where people come to listen to the music”. One hopes this metal head achieves her dreams.Varun Carvalho is another guy who has been in the public space for a while now. Fifteen years to be precise. He recently released a song called Turn the Tide. Varun said it was a song that urged everyone to rise above religion and turn the tide. He said “Everybody is just so very intolerant towards each other. We have to rise above because at the end of the day we are humans. I hope people like it”. When asked what pushed him towards writing original compositions he said “I think for each of us music is an expression of our soul. We musicians talk through our music. Whatever is churning inside comes out in our music. The message is understandable. It is important for each artist to express themselves and this can happen only through one’s own composition. This will not happen when you sing a cover”. Musicians he said felt the pulse of society and had a big role to play in society. He had four albums out, the first one way back in 2007 and then the rest of the albums and several singles. Varun said his band only played their music and at concerts people asked for specific songs. It was up to the musician he said to educate audiences and bring about the change. He hoped more musicians would move towards writing their own music. Another traveler who has now made Goa his home is Nihar Manwatkar, a singer songwriter for 17 years. Now a solo act called Dog without a Bone he has been at it for six years under that name. He writes and sings songs based on his interactions with people. He used to tour a lot but now spends time in Goa performing.
The existence of a platform like Sofar Sounds now ensures that independent artists can perform in venues in Goa and around the country and even the world. One can only hope more musicians in the state take up composing and singing their own work. That will without a doubt consolidate the position of the state as the place to be for any aspiring musician in the country.