For their upcoming maiden India trip, British “a cappella” group The Magnets are going to “try” to do a cover version of the 1970s’ youth anthem “Dum maro dum”. The group, hailed by Indian actor Saif Ali Khan among others, is also willing to learn more about Bollywood, says its co-founder Nic Doodson.
The Magnets and Italian-Canadian classical-crossover singer Natalie Di Luccio, known as a Bollywood Soprano, will be touring India from September 9-16.
“One of the greatest privileges of our job is that we can travel all over the world making music. We want to not only share our music, but also learn about where we are going and the best way for us to do this is by working with local artistes,” Doodson, who won’t be accompanying his band to India, told IANS in an email interview from London.
“A cappella”, which is Italian for “in the manner of the chapel”), is group or solo singing usually without instrumental accompaniment.
Mumbai is one the cities where the vocal harmony group’s other members Ball Zee (Patrick Hirst), Callum Mcintosh, Duncan Sandilands, James Gibbs, Matthew McCabe and Michael conway will perform as part of the tour titled “The Magnets Feat. Natalie Di Luccio”, which has been conceptualised by Indian events management company AGP World.
Thought of collaborating with any Indian artiste?
“We’d love to. As this is our first trip, we’re using it as an opportunity to learn more about the Bollywood scene and if there is anyone who would like to collaborate with us, we’d love to do it,” Doodson said.
Any Indian song that they would like to do a cover version of?
“We’re going to try ‘Dum maro dum!’ It’s got a great rhythm and the harmonies should work really well. We hope!” Doodson said.
“We are super excited to be coming to India. It’s such an exciting, vibrant, mobile and young country, so we can’t wait to come and eat, learn and most importantly listen to what India is going to tell us,” he added.
Known for their vocal and beatboxing talent, the group has performed at the Buckingham Palace, Glastonbury Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and many more venues.
Going by the demand for their shows, what does Doodson have to say about their style of performance?
“It’s very popular in the US, The Netherlands, Germany and also Australia. We’re waiting for the rest of the world to catch up,” he said.
The group has also supported tours with stars like Tom Jones and Bryan Adams. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
Talking about their days of struggle, Doodson said: “The early days were hard. We spent about seven years trying to make an impression and trying to get noticed. We’d play to about 10 people in bars and clubs and slowly, slowly we managed to get a following and started to get noticed. You have to be resilient and ready to take the knocks.”
So it’s not a surprise that they did cover songs of artistes like The Beatles, Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi.
“Covers are beneficial to introduce yourself to new audiences. People like to hear songs that they know. After that, when you have fans and people who like your music, then it’s important to have original music so you can give something more of yourself to your audience,” said the vocalist of the band that launched its debut album, “Giving It All That”, in 2001.
Internet, movies and TV shows have also helped a cappella artistes.
“The Magnets have been going for 22 years now. We spent the first 17 years explaining what ‘a cappella’ meant and what it was. In the past five years, thanks to the internet, movies like ‘Pitch Perfect’ and TV shows like ‘The Sing Off’, we don’t have to explain ‘a cappella’ — it’s been a real help,” he said.
What changes has the group gone through in terms of style?
“When we started, I think we had lofty ideals about doing ‘serious’ music, but over the years we learned that all music is good and the best music is the type that makes your audience happy. So over the years we’ve become more populist in our song choices,” Doodson said.
For the uninitiated, a cappella as a genre has its origins in Christian and Jewish worship.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at [email protected])