Good music is acceptable anywhere in the world

 Good music is acceptable anywhere in the world

Saurabh Tankha

One is a private pilot licence holder who turned to media before staring a digital firm. The other is a middle-class Maharashtrian who learnt guitar with the help of a book. The third is a school teacher who loves to train students with music skills. The trio — singer-guitarist Aditya Jassi, singer-guitarist Manish Gunthey and drummer Ashwani Verma — along with Vipin Sharma on bass and Elton Fernandes on saxophone form The Unplugged Project and love making music. had a chat with the members to know more about them and their plans…

Why The Unplugged Project?
We kind of got stuck with this name. It was literally that the people gave us this name. It started as a duo set between Aditya and Manish and since we were playing only acoustic music, people started calling us Unplugged. We became synonymous with Unplugged and things sort of snowballed into something bigger so we decided to stick with Unplugged, adding The and Project.

How did you all get together?
Ashwani and I have been friends for about 20 years. He was and still is, in my books, the best drummer in the country. For me, it was always a dream to play in a band with Ash. While we were all playing separately with other ensembles (I was with The Aditya Jassi Project, Antariksh, Bandish and Ashwani with Euphoria and myriad other acts), we got together to play a couple of gigs here and there. About a decade ago, I bumped into Manish who was hosting a karaoke night in GK-2 and almost immediately, we dug each other’s vibe and vocal abilities. A couple of beers later, we realised we are neighbours and both play guitar so jamming was obviously the next step.
Manish I was playing with Ayushmann Khurrana and as mentioned earlier, Aditya and I started doing a lot of duo sets. Over a certain course of time, we started getting queries for bigger gigs. We knew we needed to expand and there was only one drummer who fitted the bill – Ashwani Verma. We played as a trio set for about a year and steadily enough the scale of the shows started getting bigger so we asked Vipin to join us on bass and Elton on saxophone.

We have seen many bands disintegrating. Your take on this and how do you plan to not reach such a situation?
It isn’t necessarily because of fights or unrest within that bands disintegrate. Sometimes, the reasons can be strictly personal. Yes, breakups happen a lot with bands as they get bigger. With us, we were clear from the beginning that even if one of us decides to leave the band, it will cease to be The Unplugged Project simply because the camaraderie changes. It has a lot to do with respecting each member as a person and as a talent. As long as there are no ego hassles, everyone knows their role and is comfortable with it, disintegrations don’t happen.
Manish The reason why we work well is because of our friendship and because we started off as just having fun. While it became bigger than what we ventured out to do, the crux of this band stays the same. We’ve always believed the band is bigger than the three of us but it is the three of us that make it the band that it is.
Ashwani Most artistes forget who they were when they started. Band leaders begin to turn dictatorial and often the music quotient dips to terribly low standards. Drudgery kicks in and either they die a natural death or continue to churn out dirges in an assembly line process called modern day music “production”. We don’t have legal contracts holding each other down. If a band member does eventually move to greener pastures I know that the rest of us will encourage him and still be around to share their success.

When was it that you decided to take up music as a career?
I learnt how to play basic guitar in school but am mostly self-taught. Singing just happened by accident in 2000 in college. We couldn’t find a singer and had a show approaching so the other guitar player thought that I could sing “alright” and that’s how my journey as a singer began.  did a few playback songs for Bollywood before launching my solo album 7 under Universal Music India in 2011.
After college, I started working with the Taj Group of Hotels and later on moved to the media industry where I worked for TV channels and FM Radio. In 2008, while working at a TV channel, I decided to quit my corporate career to try and make a living in music business. It was a tough decision but I gave myself a year and if things wouldn’t have worked out, I was ready to return to the corporate world.
Ashwani Music is my hobby and will always stay that way. It did over the years assume career level proportions and I am glad I could scale it back down. I love to enjoy music at my pace and in my own sweet time.

If you were to rate the crowd of cities in terms of understanding music during a show, which will be the top three cities in the world and why?
Aditya Delhi, Bangkok and Mumbai. Delhi because it has the best live acts in India. Crowds are absolutely insane and there’s something for everyone. Bangkok because their knowledge of pop/rock is high. Mumbai because they’re open to original music and come to watch new artistes.
Manish Delhi for the reasons Adi mentioned. Bali because it was the setting in which we played, a show on the beach facing the ocean with cool breeze. Third city is Goa because after Delhi that’s where we have played maximum shows.
Ashwani Delhi for its unrealistically broad variety of music listeners. Mumbai for it constantly appears to be on party mode. Guwahati for its complete rock and roll attitude.

Acceptability of Indian music abroad.
Good music is acceptable anywhere in the world.

A day in the life of The Unplugged Project.
During gigs, it’s simple – Airport-Hotel-loads of laughter and sleeping-venue-soundcheck-gig-hotel-laughter-sleep-airport-home.

Success to The Unplugged Project is…
Having people sing our songs. It’s a high of epic proportions when you hear thousands of people sing back your words. That’s what we want.

What has future in store for The Unplugged Project?
Loads of concerts and lots more original content. We have a lot of new songs coming out and 2019 is going to be a mad, mad year and a world tour in the future.

Anything you would want to share with the readers that we missed out on…
We just want to thank each and every person who has supported and loved us through these four years. Thank you for coming at every show of ours. For all the cheers and advice. And for always wanting the best for us. We are what we are because of you.


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