You know about the British a capella band performing this weekend in Delhi?
A British a capella band – singing without musical accompaniment – is on its first India tour, and presents popular cover versions as well as Bollywood numbersmusic Updated: Sep 16, 2017 10:02 IST
The British a capella super group, The Magnets, featuring strong vocal and beatboxing talent on the international a cappella scene as well as London’s West End, is currently on a multi-city tour across Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Kolkata. The show is called “The Magnets featuring Natalie Di Luccio” – Natalie being an Italian-Canadian-classical crossover singer from Toronto, Canada, often referred to as Bollywood’s Soprano because of her unique renditions of Indian classics.
The band that dates back to the late ’90s has left their sonic mark on the a capella music scene with a hard-won reputation as festival favourites from Edinburgh to Adelaide. They’ve performed in major London venues such as the Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Jubilee, the O2 Empire and The Roundhouse.
A capella, an art form that swears by the human voice, is solo or group singing without any instrumental accompaniment. The idea is to navigate through the dynamic range and fulfil all roles of a piece of music using only the human voice. It began as church music and can be traced back to the 15th century.
Today, it is a well-established style. The wave of a cappella music has been growing and The Magnets are one of the torch bearers of the art form. Most a capella artists can expertly imitate musical instruments – from guitar to drums. Beatboxing – often known as vocal percussion – is an integral part of the routine of such bands.
I watched the group live at The British Council, New Delhi and they are a full package! The six-piece group comprising of Callum, Michael, Duncan, Ball-Zee Matthew and James live up to their name by making sure their listeners are constantly magnetised to their voices, with never a dull moment. The band’s repertoire ranges from classics like Feeling Good by Nina Simone to contemporary ballads like Lay Me Down by Sam Smith to foot-tapping hits like Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars featuring Mark Ronson. Ball-Zee blew everyone away by performing a skit where he used the space on stage to pretend he was setting up a drum kit guided by his voice.
When asked what is the best part about their work, the band members said it makes them happier than anything else in the world – and that positive, celebratory energy transfers to their listeners.
QUICK Q&A WITH MEMBERS OF THE MAGNET BAND
How did the band come together? What’s the story behind it?
The Magnets started their journey back in the late ’90s by busking on the streets and public spaces for beer money across London and as luck would have it, in 2000, the band got signed on to EMI records. We’re very lucky to have some people from the original lineup like Nick who still manages and arranges some of our music. The legacy lives on till date and will continue to do so.
Who are your biggest inspirations and what drew you to this form of art?
Our biggest inspirations include Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Freddie Mercury, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra. Most of us have had a background of singing in choirs as children, be it at the church or in our schools, some of us have also studied musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music, London, so we naturally felt more drawn to a cappella as an art form and there is nothing better than singing and touring the world with people you love and respect. Some of the a capella groups we love include Pentatonix and the Indian group called Penn Masala.
How has your experience been in India? What is your take on Indian music and culture?
The audience response that we’ve gotten in India has been absolutely amazing. The culture and heritage is so rich and colourful here, we love Bollywood and how it beautifully embraces the idea of love, celebration and just how energetic it is. We’ve even added hits like Dum maaro dum in our set with Natalie Di Luccio, an incredible vocalist we got to collaborate with.
What’s next on the cards for The Magnets?
The Magnets tour for at least nine months in a year all across the world, we’re constantly together practicing and working on new arrangements that we update almost every week. We pretty much live together. We have a lot of exciting tours and shows coming up including cruise ships, tours in Australia, Germany and there are also plans of coming back to India. Apart from that, we keep releasing records such as our latest album, Can You Feel It? Our work in film scores, ads, jingles, is ongoing and keeps coming along.
—Kamakshi Khanna is a singer and song writer
WHAT: Performance of The Magnets band
WHEN: 8pm, Sep 16
WHERE: Siri Fort Auditorium
Tickets: Rs 1500-2500 available at insider.in
Nearest Metro station: Green Park