Can you give our readers a brief history of your band? What do you consider the essential elements of your music?
My name is Rishabh Seen and I am a Sitar Player. My band ‘Mute The Saint started in early 2015 and basically took off as my solo project through which I wanted to write music that bridged Indian Classical and Metal music. Slowly it turned into a full band setup as the year progressed and at this point, Mute The Saint is a 4 piece internationally based band with 3 members from India and one member from the U.S.
We have released a Single, an official play through video and currently we’re wrapping up our debut record which comes out later this year.
Mute The Saint is the world’s first Indian Classical – Progressive Metal band. It’s also the first ever metal band, to feature ‘Sitar’ as the lead instrument.That’s something that sets us apart from every band that has ever existed and we aim at presenting a unique sound and expanding the horizons of Indian Classical and Metal music. I would say that Indian Classical music is the Soul and Metal music is the heart of our sound. All the song-writing basically takes place on the Sitar, be it Guitar riffs, bass lines etc. – Which is quite unlikely when you are writing a metal record! But I guess thats what makes us unique, unlikely yet powerful and extremely emotional.
When did you start writing/producing music – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
All of us in the band are writers, producers and an Instrument player. Except for me, Metal is the primary genre of everyone in the band.
I have been writing music since the past 10 years . As far as Metal goes, I spent almost 5-6 years just listening to as many bands as I could until it became as natural as Indian Classical is to me. I am really proud of the fact that I can relate so deeply with such opposite musical forms at the same time. I am inspired by Pt. Manu Seen, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Salamat Ali khan and Ustad Zakit Hussain. Their music sparked a passion in me. As far as metal goes, we as a band look up to – Animals As leaders, Lamb Of God, Porcupine Tree,The Faceless, Meshuggah, Gojira and Between The Buried.
With each musical genre having such a rich history and diverse background, do you feel that music means something different to performers of different styles? How does this affect your work with different artists?
I personally feel that there are no rules to what a genre ‘should’ or is supposed to feel like or mean because if that is so, why does metal music make some people feel outrageous and some extremely uplifted, satisfied and at peace? That’s a part of the reason why a same genre or band or a style of music can mean something different o different musicians/Listeners.
Music is visualisation of our lives through sound – We find ourselves, our purposes or relate ourself in a particular style of music and that’s why it becomes our favourite. So yes, music means something different to performers, even two different artists performing the same genre of music, feel differently about it . It all depends upon how wide your vision is and how deep your passion and love for the music runs.
With the instrumental style being so saturated with bands today, what do you think makes Mute the Saint stand out so significantly?
As I mentioned earlier, Mute The Saint is the world’s first Indian Classical Progressive Metal band and by that I mean that we do not use Indian sounds/instruments as ‘fillers’, something which has been done by many bands. We present Sitar, as the lead instrument and as the primary genre of the band. Growing up as an Indian Classical musician and a true metalhead, I always longed to bridge the gap between these two genres and fill a void that I agonised over for a long time. I never knew that a few years down the road, I would actually start something that brought these two very soulful and powerful forms of music together and thats what Mute The Saint is about. We’re stand for unique, fresh, powerful and limitless music. Mute The Saint is not only the coming together of two different genres, it also brings together two different cultures and lifestyles, because on one hand people who love Indian Classical music, instruments and vibe are listening to our music and on one hand People who love Metal music and progressive music are listening and digging our stuff and nothing is more precious to us than having such a widespread impact and interest.
The role of an artist is always subject to change. What is your view on the (political/social creative) tasks of the artist today, and how do you try to meet these goals?
I think the role of the artists, the way they were viewed 10 years or 20 years ago and the way they were treated then has changed tremendously. Today, an artist not only has to be a great player and have a creative mind, but also has to have a very well versed knowledge of the commercial and business aspect of the things and he also has to have a political mind. There used to be a time when just being a great player was enough for you to get noticed and rise to the top but times have changed, there are great musicians everywhere. Some musicians are also amazing entrepreneurs and so to make a mark of your own, you just have to be an ‘All in One’ unit. I firmly believe that what ever it is that you want, you have to just ‘go for it’. A lot of artists tend to think that things will come by on their own, even I used to believe that but I have slowly accepted that you either will have to go and get what you want or it’s just not going to work. The most important step in doing this is firstly being proud of what you are and believing in yourself, being aware of your strong and weak points as an artist and just putting yourself out as much possible. Personally, the passion of sharing music in me is as huge as the passion of ‘making’ music and I tend to be a person who is active on all the Social/Creative/Political fronts for all my musical works and I think there shouldn’t be a day that goes by when you are not working hard trying to achieve what you think you deserve.
As India is concerned in the music industry, financial situations are hard for a band and it seems people give up on the search for their dream. What do you think the dream for your band is and are you searching for it?
Just as every musician out there, each one of us is well familiar with the current state of music business and the state of music as an art form in India particularly – everything is at an all time low but I am an optimist who never gives up even if he fails. We are never going to stop making good music and neither are we going to stop working hard. Musicians are becoming too negative- I think there is reality which we all know but why forget the good side?
The youth of our country are becoming more and more aware of Art in general and different non-bollywood music forms, right? More an more independent initiatives like you guys over at Q46 are doing every bit putting independent artists forth,right? More and more independent musicians are being recognised and their fan bases are becoming stronger and stronger while they continue to get noticed, right? I think it’s time for us to be hellbent on going after what we want . We’ll let our music speak for itself and since it has the ability to bring different audiences together, we look forward to successfully promote and bring these styles /genres of music to the youth in a different fashion to spark their interest. The music, the scene has to grow and it will grow in the coming 5 to 10 years. All it needs is a bunch of good bands, a few dedicated people to bring these Artists/bands forth and we’ll have a very healthy and rewarding independent music scene. I personally am very optimistic about the future of the Independent music scene in India.
Do you feel marketing is important in shaping a band, or do you think good music is all it takes to break the wall?
Good music all the way but not without the ability to put it out properly. Nothing at all can stop good music good music will always get noticed no mater what – BUT – that ‘level’ of ‘Recognition or Fame depends on how good you market yourself. Good music will get you noticed, marketing will actually get you recognised and there is a huge difference in that. We should never forget that the world is full of unheard talent and history is proof to this. So many artists in films, sports,musicians etc.have either died un-noticed or were rewarded during the last years of their lives, which stands as a proof that you have got to get your presence acknowledged yourselves and no one is going to do it for you until you reach a certain point.
How do you think, could non-stream forms of music reach wider audiences?
I think there is no need for non-mainstream music to become mainstream if you’re able to make a career out of the art you make. Non-mainstream music has a different charm and a different vision and respect with which people see it. Mainstream music is definitely heard more but the level of artistic expression goes through a lot of filters and forced changes and so it’s little about art anymore whereas non-mainstream music solely is made for the purpose of art and for the love that drives an artist to make good music and that’s what makes non-stream music so much powerful. I think if you are able to live a happy life without sacrificing you artistic expressions it doesn’t really matter if you are non-mainstream or mainstream cause at the end of the day these are just tags. Mainstream music might earn a lot, make people dance, but whenever humanity will need some soul-searching or reality check, we go to the most unheard and unseen realms of art & music because that’s where the truth, satisfaction and answers lie.
Is there any information you’d like to share about Mute the Saint? Any new material in the works? Any tours to be announced?
Mute The Saint is currently working on it’s self-titled debut EP, which will have 5 songs. All the members reside in different states and countries so everything is happening online, which is more hectic than we ever imagined but finally things are taking shape so well and we are beyond stoked, happy and proud of this record. It will be released in the later part of 2016. We are in talks with a few record labels as of now, but as soon as the time comes we’ll either put it out on our own or have a label that puts it out. We plan on touring India first and foremost, playing as much live as we can and then focus on international touring. But yeah, we’ll be headed towards India right after the record comes out.
Music for music’s sake or music for life’s sake?
Music for Life’s sake – Totally!
At the end of the day, what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I just wish that the music we make inspires people to embrace their originality and be proud of it. A lot of musicians sacrifice their own sound or expression just to sound more mainstream or sell more but if that keeps happening we’ll soon have 10,000 artists doing the exact same thing. Bows to the artists that stay true to their art and originality. We wish to make music that inspires young musicians to innovate and always strive for originality and find their passion.The world is ever-changing and the only constant is a change, so let yourself evolve and bring your most true expressions out and never be afraid to share those with the world. Mute The Saint stands for something that’s original, truly from the core of our hearts.
You can find more information about Mute the Saint at the following links: