Music Beyond Borders
Gods Robots are redefining the way music is created, from opposite ends of the planet
Once upon a time, bands would practice in basements and garages, pounding out new tunes side by side. They’d print posters for their shows, stick them to walls around town, and phone up their friends to help spread the word. But now it’s hardly remarkable that people can make music together all over the world without ever having met. While some musicians still choose to go the old-fashioned route, many are moving their operations into cyberspace, opening doors for collaboration that would never before have been thinkable.
Pioneering this trend in this part of the world is Gods Robots, a new collaboration between electronic producer Janaka Atugoda (aka Janaka Selekta) and vocalist Shridevi Keshavan (aka Taamara, formerly of Tatva Kundalini). The band’s name springs from the modern-day reality that most people are constantly connected via machines, from phones to computers. It is because of this constant connection that Gods Robots even exists: Janaka lives in San Francisco and Taamara in Mumbai, and without the internet, their collaboration would not have been possible.
The two artists joined forces online last autumn and have since combined Janaka’s well-honed production skills with Taamara’s spellbinding voice to come up with a number of original tracks, from the dance-provoking Tainted Glass to the enchantingly fairylike Shine. In the few months since the duo began working together, they have used the internet to gain a strong fan base, arrange an India-wide tour and get airtime on BBC Radio, all without having ever spoken face to face.
It all started when the two connected on Facebook. “I was impressed by Taamara’s singing, so I asked her to send me something,” says Janaka. “She did, I wrote instruments for it and she loved it. We struck up the partnership and it has been constant from there on. We’ve been working on music together every day for the last three months.” Gods Robots do all this without any fancy equipment or special software. The two communicate on Skype and Gchat and send files using commonplace applications such as yousendit. Sometimes Taamara will send a vocal track to Janaka, who will then compose accompanying instrumentals. Other times, Janaka sends instrumentals to Taamara, who then sings over it and sends her file back. And while the distance between them could seem like a barrier to working together, the two use the fact that they live on opposite sides of the planet to their advantage; their near-opposing time zones allow them to work 24 hours a day, with one member working on tracks while the other sleeps.
But while their synergy has paved the way for some amazing tracks, the pair’s web-based collaboration hasn’t been free from challenges. “Uploading and downloading files is time consuming, especially in India where connections are tenuous at best,” says Janaka. “It takes [Taamara] four hours sometimes to upload a 4MB file.” Despite these little hiccups, the two have pressed on with an India tour and have plans for bigger and better things in store, including a potential international tour. “We have material worth an album, which we are planning to sort out while we are both in India this time,” says Taamara. “I think 2010 is going to be the year for us.”