Xperience Sessions With Shanka Tribe

RJ Ayesha caught up with Shanka Tribe, a seven-piece music band that is delighted to be a disruptor in the Indian indie music scene, thanks to their distinct and alternative style. Shanka Tribe performs nature trance, a genre that is hard to come by, and even harder to execute properly, due to how difficult it is to capture the flow and fury of nature in a song. Their experimental music is distinguished by its trademark opening, which begins with the sound of a shankh (conch).

Traditional tribal instruments such as the didjeridoo, djembe, conga, handpan, darbuka, bongo, and oud, as well as the flute, guitar, and keyboard, are used by the band members Joel Jackson P, Munna PM, Nithin M Menon, Sreeraj K, Bonny Abraham, Aswin Lal, and Libin Noby to create distinctive compositions. In addition, they include chants in their music.

The usage of tribal instruments from China, Africa, and Arabia, as well as sounds from the past, makes their music unique.

Image Courtesy: Mid-Day

Shanka Tribe got its start in Kerala’s college cultural events. However, after being prodded by band member Atul P M alias ‘Munna,’ it evolved into a genre known as ‘tribal trance.’ This was highly accepted not only in India, but also throughout the world. Critics cite the German group Enigma as a parallel.

The band name has nostalgic value as it stems from a college music festival. Munna says, “When we were considering different names one of my friends, Shishira, suggested ‘Shanka’ as in s hankh (conch) which a few band members had a personal connection with during their childhood. Also, the cleansing, purifying and spiritual effect of the shankh is unparalleled. So, we felt that shankh is an apt name for an instrumental band like this.”

Munna claims that he was first motivated to form a band by a few songs he was listening to. He was drawn to tribal music and believes he was fortunate to find like-minded people to join him. All of the members of the band are full-time musicians, with a handful of them having previously worked in a Malayalam film.

Last year, Shanka Tribe released their first track ‘When Nature Calls’ on Spotify. The music video, combines a love of nature, simple life, and a spirit of adventure. Their music included powerful traditional chants, mantras, and sentiments.

Image Courtesy: Indulge Express

The band’s didjeridoo player, Munna PM explains why this is the 10-year-old band’s first track. “In the initial days, the priority of the band was to simply create music. We had to give people some time to understand and get used to this new genre. Live performances were the best way to test our music. With each performance, our confidence grew as many people started appreciating our music.”

The band has performed in India and the Middle East, among other places. Based in Cochin in Kerala, they are currently promoting live, acoustic music. Speaking of the pulse of young music lovers, Munna says, “When it comes to sound there have been a lot of changes in contemporary film music. There is a huge opportunity in experimenting with organic sounds. New sounds are what everyone prefers but they should come with context when shown in movies.”

RJ Ayesha had a musical chat with Shanka Tribe about their experimental music and forthcoming tracks. Check it out below.