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Guitarist Aayushi Karnik Makes Her Mumbai Debut This Week

The 19-year-old guitarist will play at Live From The Console

Rolling Stone India Jan 08, 2014
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Aayushi Karnik

There are few guitarists who can hold their own when the likes of Shillong blues band’s Rudy Wallang, Blackstratblues frontman Warren Mendonsa and PINKNOISE guitarist Amyt Datta are all on stage together. Nineteen-year-old Aayushi Karnik from Surat is one of them.

Karnik picked up the guitar at the age of 12 and remembers all night practice sessions all through her growing up years. Says Karnik, “As far as I remember, I have spent most of my time playing the guitar. I’m always listening to music, like when I’m riding my bike and stuff, I always have my earphones plugged on.” A self-taught guitarist, who turned to YouTube videos and books, Karnik has picked up most of her techniques by ear. “Yeah. Also, I don’t really have any other options,” she adds with a laugh. Karnik was last seen playing with The Fender Benders in November last year and will perform at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studios this week at the upcoming edition of Live From The Console. An extremely shy interviewee, Karnik tells us more about her journey so far and her solo acoustic set in Mumbai this week.

The Beginnings: Unlike most children daunted by public performances, Karnik played guitar in her school choir at the daily assembly.  While the pre-teen Karnik was taught how to play the guitar for a short while, she was drawn to the blues on her own.

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Influences: Says Karnik, I used to listen to a lot of Simon and Garfunkel. And then Beatles and Chuck Berry. Now I’m listening to a lot of the blues ”“ Derek Trucks, John Scofield and also some punk and alt stuff like RHCP.” Her first inspiration from India was Shillong blues band Soulmate ””“I was looking around randomly on ReverbNation and one my friends sent me this link and said, ”˜Oh my god! Check this band out!’ and I listened to them. The first song I heard was “Remembering Rory” and I was completely blown away by the phrasing done by Rudy. And then I went to the Mahindra Blues Festival [in February 2013] and saw them live.”

Work and Play: Last year, Karnik secured a diploma in architecture, but has decided that it will be music over architecture for now. “I’m really confused right now if I want to do architecture or music full time. My dad even took me to his office twice asking me to learn and start working on architecture, but I’m not too interested. I’m giving first preference to music right now.” Karnik tells us that she was a part of three bands [including the now-defunct Surat band Red Blues] apart from the school choir and with time, her tastes in music evolved. She adds, “I was into a lot of alternative and punk rock and then moved onto classic rock and then the blues.”

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Big Break: Karnik won the Axe’s Power Guitar contest in Dimapur, Nagaland in November 2013. The contest was judged by four guitarists, two of which she went on to perform with ”“ Rudy Wallang and Sanjay Divecha. Karnik’s performance videos gained praise from guitarist-composer Ehsaan Noorani and guitarist Floyd Fernandes as well, and also won her a Fender endorsement. The week after her win in Nagaland, she was up on stage at the Bengaluru NH7 Weekender performing with The Fender Benders, which included guitarists Warren Mendonsa, Rudy Wallang, Amyt Datta, Loy Mendonsa, Jayanta Dasgupta, Sanjay Divecha with Jay Row Kavi on drums and Raveen Pandey on keyboards. “I jammed with The Fender Benders in the morning and I was performing with them live in the evening.”

On the cards: Karnik plans on going solo soon as a singer-songwriter and will start working on a full-length album this year. Says Karnik about her solo set this week, “I’m playing some originals and covers over half an hour on my acoustic. I’ll be singing too. I think musically, it will be a push for me and also a lot of fun.”

Catch Aayushi Karnik at Live From The Console on the 11th of January at Stage 2, Mehboob Studios, Mumbai. The full lineup includes Mumbai-based alt rock act Red Seems Right and Delhi-based indie rock band Yesterdrive.



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