Eastern Soul

Bombay Dub Orchestra talk about the incredible Bollywood string orchestras

In this exclusive interview Garry from the Bombay Dub Orchestra talks to us about the declining Indian string orchestras and upcoming soundtrack work. Not heard BDO yet? We suggest you download the April podcast.

I’m interested in the process by which you mix live musicians together, but perhaps not in the traditional sense of artists jamming together.

The strings are scored by Andrew who also conducts the orchestra. We generally work with around fourteen violins, twelve violas, 4 celli and one double bass. On the first album we recorded the strings at Empire studios in Mumbai and on the second one at Yash Raj studios in Mumbai and AR Rahman’s studio in Chennai. Many of the musicians that we record with in Mumbai have been working with us on various projects for the last 12 years. So it’s very much a family vibe….

We’d love people to continue working with the amazing orchestral players and soloists in India, many of who are getting nudged out of sessions by the Bollywood trend towards R n B and Hip hop type songs. The string sessions are getting less and less. It would be a terrible loss if all of that heritage melted away.

The sessions with the soloists and singers tend to contain way more improvisation than the string sessions. So once we’ve got the main parts recorded we let people jam through the track and we often get some nice surprises at this point.

Your music has been described as cinematic and intoxicating – it seems incredible in that context that I can’t find any reference to BDO scoring a film? Have I missed something, or is it something that may happen in the future? What kind of film would that be ideally?

We’re very keen on film scoring. The last film we did together should be out pretty soon. It’s called “Project Happiness” and is a feature documentary that was filmed in the USA, Africa and India featuring the Dalai Lama, George Lucas and Richard Gere. We have also written a fair amount of music for British and American Television including the BBC, ITV and the Discovery and History channels in the USA.

We’re also just starting the music for a feature documentary film about Budhia Singh called “Marathon boy.” It’s a fascinating and tragic story of a slum kid from Orissa who became the world’s youngest endurance runner. We’re looking forward to combining some Indian recording with a more Western film scoring approach to the music.

My ideal film to score? A big crazy action feature with lots of different locations!

We spoke about much more with Garry and we’ll be featuring the rest of this interview in a future post.

In the mean time…

• Check out Bombay Dub Orchestra’s official website
• Read more about Project Happiness