Meet Suraj Mani, India’s Rocker-Poet

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Anyone who has been following the Indian indie-music scene is familiar with Suraj Mani. Mani used to be the vocalist for ‘Motherjane’, one of India’s best rock bands of the 2000s. Today, he fronts The Tattva Trip, another rock band that derives inspiration from social movements.

Based in Bangalore, the ‘Tattva Trip’ recently released 11 songs for Music Mojo and Kappa TV. It’s ‘a social movement which comes alive in songs and stories’. Here are some excerpts from an interview:

1. What is ‘Poetic Rock Music’ all about?

Basically we are into rock poetry and what we do is we start a social conversation. Most of our songs are about the social movements of our country whether we notice it not. Our aim is to pen down songs on social issues in our country and call in people to come for our gigs and shows to start a conversation and talk about these issues and make people aware about it. I like writing poems and till date I have written over 70-odd poems and thus my songs are also inspired by my poems as well. I write poems on all kind of things and mostly which are inspired by life.  My songs give a different perspective about an existing problem and through that people then perceive that issue with a different view all together that makes them not only think about it but also to change the situation at hand.

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2. When was The Tattva Trip founded?

It was exactly after I released my first album ‘The Tattva Trip’ in 2012, a year after I left ‘MotherJane’. Tattva is a Sanskrit word which means the ‘Essence of Things’ or ‘The Principle of Things’ and I find people define things too rigidly and that’s why they find themselves lacking in many places. What I am trying to tell people is ‘look at the essence of things’ and then view it from a different angle all together. The Tattva Trip is all about looking at things from a different angle until finding a view that helps you. Once you find a view that helps you; it opens you to a new journey all together, doesn’t it! We converse with people with words, stories, music, poetry etc. We are not just a rock band. We look at ourselves as a movement to bring about a change.

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3. Besides rock music, do you love other genres of music? How do pen down the songs?

I have always been partial to Rock Music and that has been my forte as an artist. The reason I love rock music is because ‘Rock Music’ is about ‘CHANGE’ at heart. The songs are written by me and all are inspired by themes of life, social issues, social movements etc. We just have to look around us; there is so much happening around us that we are not aware about, that’s why I am still writing songs.

4. Tell us something about your songs ‘Maya’ and ‘Change’. What are they inspired by?

I have written songs on all kinds of things. Maya is a song that is inspired by child prostitution whereas the Indian girl child do not have a great life. ‘Change’ is a song that has been inspired by what is happening currently in Tibet; back here in Bangalore I saw a protest where a group of Tibetan monks who were silently praying together during the day of national tragedy in Tibet. That was something that really touched my heart and I wrote a song for that, for change. Besides these I have also written a song called ‘Mahabali’ which is based on the festival of Onam, I have written about ‘The Other Indian’ a group that goes about cleaning India. I am inspired by human beings see and how they perceive themselves. I find human beings fascinating and that is what I try to capture in my writings and songs.

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5. In all your videos the band member’s including you have their faces half painted. What is the reason behind that?

Yes, that’s true, most of the members faces are half painted and half normal. We as a band itself are of a different perspective, we are trying to show people that there is one way of looking at things and then there are other ways of looking at things. One side is much defined and that is the way we normally see ourselves but on the other side that we are not willing to embrace with go where we need to go. Most people define themselves so strongly that they limit themselves as to what they can do.

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6. Your message for all ‘Tattva Trippers’ out there?

My message is “Everything is limitless, if you are going around looking for beauty you will find it.”