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Meet Ben Walsh: An Aussie percussionist who is Pancham da’s fan

Australian musician-percussionist Ben Walsh is back to India to perform his new solo project. In a candid chat, he reveals his love for Indian classical music and Pacham Da’s melodies.

art and culture Updated: Oct 17, 2016 08:14 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Ben Walsh,Australian percussionist,R D Burman
Australian musician-percussionist Ben Walsh.

When you spot a man playing percussion instruments with palpably high energy which is contagious, it has to be percussionist Ben Walsh. The Australian musician and composer who performed his solo project Remix Experiment in Hauz Khas recently, loves performing in the country.

“I’ve played many different kinds of concerts to all ages, and I can safely say that Indian audiences love their music,” says Walsh, who was here for the seventh time.

His list of performances include one titled Fearless Nadia (the yesteryear Bollywood actor and stuntwoman who brought a touch of Australia to Hindi films). ”I’m not a huge Bollywood fan as such; I tend to like art-house and independent films, to be honest. However, I love the music of RD Burman from the 60’s and 70’s, particularly when it comes to Bollywood,” he confesses.

Ben Walsh.

Walsh says he prefers Indian classical music any day. “It’s Indian kayal, thumri, Carnatic and Hindustani classical music that really opens my ears, especially the old stuff. There’s something about the way people played and sang before 70’s that makes me think it was a different world back then.”

His love for classical music is evident as he says, “Classical is deeply personal and spiritual music and I feel that it needs to be treated with care and sensitivity by the electronic community. It shouldn’t be remixed unless you know music.” As for the many remixes, he says, “The artist should want to be remixed, and be willingly involved in some way. And when the remix comes out right, I love to hear classical electronic collaborations!”

Perhaps that fusion is something one can look forward to as Walsh collaborates with Rajasthani master percussionists at the ongoing Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival). He confesses that he feels jitters but those of “excitement”. Walsh adds, “I enjoy folk music very much. It’s the root of most classical forms and Rajasthan has one of the richest folk music traditions; its influence spreads far and wide. I’ll be playing at my best to try and keep up and understand the nuances, thanks to my dear friends Bobby Singh (tabla player) and his guru Aneesh Pradhan (tabla exponent)... Well, I keep getting asked back (to play in India) so I must be doing something right!”

First Published: Oct 17, 2016 08:14 IST