Podcast Host: Piyush Shinde
Guest Interview: Varun Venkit
Varun Venkit is a Percussionist and Drummer, Clinical Psychologist and Masters NLP Practitioner, NFNLP, the USA who is a Grade 8 Drum Kit player; as certified by the Trinity College of Music, London. He has been a student of many a drum teacher; Joshua Banks from Brisbane, Australia (ex Berklee College of Music, Boston) being his most recent and most influencing teacher. He soon started freelancing and playing with veterans such as Sivamani, Jayant Sankrityayana, Derek Julien, Roger Dragonette, Sanjay Joseph, Shri. Rajeev Devasthali, Kaustubh Dhavale, K. Mohan, Rushad Mistry and more. Varun has been a part of Agnee, India's biggest folk-rock band (SONY BMG's May 2007 release) for three years. Presently, Varun is a freelance drummer and percussionist and his primary focus is his brainchild Taal Inc.; a rhythm ensemble that focuses on rhythms of the land and its introduction into every walk of life.
● You have been performing since the age of 15 and are the most sought after drummer in India. You played with Sivamani, Amit Kilam (Indian Ocean), Taufiq, Qureshi, Raghu Dixit, Dhruv Ghanekar (Coke studio), Derek Julian, and the list goes on. Which is the closest to your heart? Why?
● How do you define Taal Inc. to someone who is new? Your narrative - come, drum, be one - what is it? And could you please define Taal using that narrative.
● We had a discussion about how people always have a fascination about any art form specifically musical forms like drumming, rhythm, guitar. We almost always attach the superiority complex to music art form. Do you think Taal Inc. has overcome this? or striving to overcome it?
● What was the first rhythm you played and also tell us now that you have achieved so much in spreading music in a different light, how would you describe yourself as a musician/performer/a facilitator?
● The core of Taal Inc is more than just music. It has therapeutic values engraved with it. How is it connected to drumming and do you get people who come to you and say, "I'm depressed or stressed". How does Taal help these people?
● But if I am depressed, how would you even get me to drum or play djembe? Isn't it challenging?
● I know that you have some amazing initiatives, one which is for blind school or sex workers or the latest Neha told me about - ResQ. Could you help our listeners know more about it?
● You played with Michelle Obama, Anandi Ben, Narendra Modi, and Shinzo Abe. What were your learning moments from each of these leaders, if at all you got a chance to meet them? Can you share these learnings?
● There is something interesting I read about the research centre of Taal, which measures, analyses, and documents art based influence or behavioural healing. Can you please help us understand about this? Do you have any kind of tangible outcomes you have seen?