Drumming his way into our hearts | Drum SivamaniVaishnavi Samvedi
Give him a table, a suitcase or even a steel can, Shivamani can create rhythm from almost anything! As his agile fingers run on solids, listeners only get glued and ask for more. Percussionist Shivamani is a gem who can produce music from anything and everything. He belongs to a breed of ambitious, optimistic and persevering folks aiming for generating an effect that has a lasting ripple effect on its audience. His impeccable sense to recognise beats and rhythm from almost anything around him undeniably makes him for the genius he’s known for. Get a glimpse of his rhythmic abode and get your creative ideas a fresh wave of inspiration.
You highly emphasize on following your passion, doing what you love, tell me, sir, how does one find what they love.
It’s very simple, you have to love your mom, once you start loving and caring because those 9 months, I think every day, you’re doing your Riyaaz, and the reason we come out, is to achieve, is to give back to the universe. For me, God decided to be a percussionist, my mom’s heartbeat was the first drum beat for me.
My father was a drummer and they both created me, God had a plan, that Sivamani has to only be a percussion player, a drummer. So, I followed my path, my goal that wanted to be an international drummer, so I practiced, I worked hard to follow my passion.
How important is rhythm is one’s life?
Everyone has rhythm in their life, without rhythm, there is no life.
How do we recognize the rhythm in our life?
You can find rhythm everywhere, it drives you. In the car your indicator gives you the timing to turn when someone is walking next to you, you try to match their steps and you start walking in rhythm when you touch your heart, that gives you rhythm. You’re surrounded by rhythm, that’s why say ‘Rhythm is God’.
What is your understanding of the statement “rhythm is god”?
Look we can’t see god but there is a light in you and it makes your soul bright and beautiful.
See in our soul there is a lot of lying, cheating, deceit, a lot of bad things if you lie you will be disturbed, be honest be light inside because you will be bright outside.
You’ve had a lot of training and practical learning experience in your life, what are your views on the current learning methods, that the young artists enroll themselves into?
Today there are a lot of options available for anyone who wants to become a musician, be it an instrument, Sitar or sarod or vocals, you just have to practice, if you practice Maa Saraswati will herself come, sit and listen, she’ll say this boy/girl is working hard and enlighten you and bring you to the limelight. If your parents give you everything your drum set your instruments and you still sit and do nothing Maa Saraswati will see I have organized everything for this child and still he/she isn’t focusing why do I have to be there.
So, it has everything to do with your intention, your goal and where you wanna go?
I want to become like AR REHMAN I want to become like Vinjay Joshi Sir, you need that kind of ambition. You know my goal was to play internationally, to play with lots of foreign bands and musicians
What does it take to be a true artist?
From what I learned true artist doesn’t need to be insecure, who’s playing in front of me, or I wanna play better than me, you need to be yourself, you need to compliment others you have to give others the chance, this I learned from the Zakir Hussain the great legend,
my big brother Zakir Bhai, I’m gifted to be around him and to have travelled with him, the way he encouraged so many of us, gave many people a platform, I have observed him and his teachings have helped me a lot. And to create magic on stage I have learned from my Ustaad Zakir Bhai.
Every year I perform in Chennai at this Siddhi Purush Omkar swami Jeeva samadhi. I call all my students, little boys whoever wants to come and play and not only there is a blessing for them, I give them a platform to perform, last 11 January I performed and all my students came, so many drummers, and I wanna see them, the future of India.
You spoke about your collaboration with AR Rehman Sir, how would you describe your bond with him.
My bond with actually started with my father he played for AR’s father Shekhar Sir, and they used to work in Malayali films and once I went with him and I saw AR practicing in a studio. In the early ages I was 12 and then we connected we started this band called Roots, it was phenomenal the way he played on stage it was awesome, then AR started composing for ad films he’d call me sometime and I’d play.
We are very close, whenever AR wasn’t eating Amma would always come to me saying Siva AR isn’t eating it’s getting late now, cause he used to go in the zone and get lost at times, I don’t disturb him, I say AR let’s go and eat, back in the 80s we used to hang around every day since then to last night We won the best art picture in music award and he sent me a note congratulating me, he supports and encourages me, we both support each other he gives a lot of ideas because we are all in the ocean, we are swimming, there’s no such thing as big fish small fish. So, our Friendship is touchwood really strong.
Before you go on stage, just 5 minutes before you perform what is your state of mind?
It’s very simple, I pray and call all my masters and gurus and put them to work, the first thing I say you all come and use my body to play, because my Siddhi Purush, 18 Siddhas, Sairam, Bismillah Rehman and Lord Jesus, I call everyone and I pray I’m going to perform please come and play, on behalf of me, and whoever comes to the concert they enjoy, that’s the secret.
After the concert people come up and say wow, I felt something in our body we lost ourselves that I was amazing and I say I did not know what I did on stage. Because as soon as I reach the stage all my gurus are there on stage.
Music and rhythm how do they contribute to the people or are they connected, how do music and rhythm connect to a personal spirituality?
Music in itself is spirituality, Shiva and Shakti you can’t split them, rhythm and music are like Shiva and Shakti, so see rhythm music and notes when you watch a Movie and in these beautiful scenes, you won’t feel anything if Ayers no music, it won’t move you. So, rhythm and music are one.
During the lockdown, the pandemic how has music kept you going on, how does it impact day to day chores, what impact has it had on you?
See all this pandemic, corona all is now, but the music and rhythm is my soul, it’s my life and I just practice, and I practice with my daughter Milana. That’s the reason she’s born, and both I and my wife give her the best, and she’s just as enthusiastic as us.
And I just pray every day, that we get out of all these problems you have to support the nature you have to support the farmers and the musicians and I pray to God that we get out of all these problems.
What impact has it had on you?
In this pandemic I learned how to be confident on camera, how to record yourself, and how to cook, I enjoyed cooking.
What are your best dishes?
I make fish curry and rassam
Milana is a very lucky baby because we are travelers for concerts, so these 9 months we spent every day feeding her washing her, it was beautiful and it brought us closer, and we learned cleanliness, washing ourselves, back in the day people used to do have a bucket of water outside the house, people used to wash their legs before entering. Now they just spray their sanitizers.
How do you see the future of the music industry, like virtual concerts, what do you feel will be the changes?
See I believe in live performances because live has that charm, we are connected directly. It never dies, music, digital or live concerts, but the pandemic first the business has to grow then the entertainment, so you run the show as long as you can.
Because in the last month we have seen a lot of virtual concerts, a lot of plays, all online, all happening digitally, what do you see happing in the future?
The digital platform is good, but after finishing my tea high because I’m used to applause, but given the situation, we have to follow whatever is suitable, now is the time for Digital platforms. So, let’s go with it.
In this lockdown suddenly I got ‘Atkan Chatkan’, after that there’s a movie Called ‘Dehati disco’, Mr. Ganesh Acharya, I did songs for that film, it is coming out, they recently finished shooting in Lucknow, it’s launching soon.
Any other projects you have got going, anything you’re doing on a personal level?
Yeah, I’m just recording Runaa and Me, an album with my wife. She is a great singer and we are recording lots of stuff.
I want to talk about Dinesh Dada, he is launching the platform, see we are musicians we know how to play to lay music we focus on that, the other aspects organizing and everything, He is a big music lover and a musician himself. He’s doing a lot for old musicians and also giving a platform to upcoming musicians, whatever he is doing he has my support always.