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Listen Up - Ajay Srivastav

A look at some of the emerging artists of the acoustic roots & folk circuit

A look at some of the emerging artists of the acoustic roots & folk circuit, this week we focus on London based Ajay Srivastav whose new single ' Namaste is out now. Ajay is a singer/songwriter whose sound flows from the banks of Delta Blues and Americana to the sacred rivers of Indian folk. Lyrically he mixes the personal with the spiritual, forever bouncing between doubt and faith.

Musical influences
Music is an integral part of Indian life and it was particularly used by my parents to keep me in touch with their culture.So I grew up with traditional Bhajans, Kirtans and mantra chanting. I was also introduced to classical Indian music at an early age.. and of course, Bollywood songs!
The world outside my doorstep led me toa whole new way of interpreting life through music. The rawness of musicians like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson was soul-stirring. Artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchel and Nick Drake really hit me lyrically. And the Beatles just made it all seem so within reach!

Describing our music
As a person I'm always trying to find a peaceful balance between all my cultural influences and opinions. My music reflects that ideal and is a blend of Delta Blues with Indian Folk. Sonically, I'm exploring the relationship between resonator guitar, tabla and voice. Lyrically I'm influenced by Vedic philosophy and the mythology that surrounds it.

Highlights so far
As winners of the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival Award, Purbeck Rising, we enjoyed playing several Folk Festival last summer such as Poole Quay, Bridport, Wimborne, Wessex, and of course returning to Purbeck.
As a session musician I've worked with some amazing artists from a variety of genres like Zakir Hussain, Gregory Isaacs and Jah Wobble. You always learn something when working with musicians like that.
I've also performed at some great venues and festivals like the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Jazz Café and WOMAD.
But to be honest the really special moments are the ones when someone tells you how much they love a song you wrote. That's the most amazing feeling ever.

Plans for the future
I'm really looking forward to the release of my album 'Karmic Blues' early next year. It's the culmination of a lot of writing, gigging and recording. Performing the songs live over the last couple of years gave me the opportunity to really work on the songs so they are well lived in. And in the studio I kept the live element as we recorded the majority of the songs on ¼ inch analogue tape. I'm really happy with the sound, it 'feels' exactly how I wanted it to.
My first video single - 'Namaste' will be out in January and I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing live.

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