By Shivalik Chandan
Ska as a genre of music evolved in the late 1950s, combining elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with jazz and blues. The genre served as a precursor to reggae, and is characterized by upbeat grooves. This genre of music has been brought to India by the Ska Vengers, a seven member band out of Delhi, started by keyboard player Stefan Kaye in the fall of 2009.
The band has a unique take on songs by reggae and soul legends such as Lee Scratch Perry and Marcia Griffiths and also revamp classics from artists like Velvet Underground, The Clash, and even RD Burman. However, their foot tapping dance oriented originals are gaining acclaim from critics and fans alike.
Their music is a unique blend of reggae and jazz, with two vocalists adding to the catchy grooves created by an amalgamation of the separate parts of the other musicians. The songs feature very prominent walking bass lines, as expected from ska music, and these bass lines are probably my favorite part of their music. Just like in rock and roll, the tight grooves created by the interplay between the drums and the bass tie the songs together.
On top of the grooves they lay out, the keyboardist and saxophone player add their parts, which fit in at the perfect places, creating a tight, upbeat instrumental part, over which the vocalists lay out their magic.
The Ska Vengers are an extremely talented band, creating a form of music which may not be so popular, because of its relative unfamiliarity in the Indian music scene, but is definitely worth listening to. Hope to see you there to watch them live at Kairos 2015!