In Conversation with band members of
‘The Unplugged Project’
Delhi-based acoustic band ‘The Unplugged Project’ known for their live performances across formats (Corporate events, Weddings, Music Festivals,
Colleges or even Pubs) Formed in 2014, the three-member band comprising Manish Gunthey (Vocalist and Guitarist), Aditya Jassi (Vocalist and Guitarist) and Ashwani Verma (Drummer) are a name to reckon with. The band’s name was given to them by their audience. Their audience started calling them ‘unplugged’, so they kept the name ‘unplugged’ only.
Tell about your journey and evolution?
Aditya: It all started around 4 years ago over a Karaoke session. Manish was hosting a Karaoke night at a pub in Greater Kailash-2, New Delhi. I had just walked in and decided to sing a song, because it seemed so much fun. He sang a couple of songs. We met each other for first time and there was instant respect and admiration for each other’s singing abilities. Later, we had a couple of meetings. I was already working on a solo project with Universal Music India and was wrapping up my solo album and playing live with my band ‘The AJ Project’. Soon we started playing acoustic-duo gigs. Ashwani and I have been friends for more than 20 years. He was and still is, according to me is the best drummer in the country. For me it was always a dream to play in a band with Ash and while we were all playing separately with other ensembles (I was with The AJ Project, Antariksh, Bandishetc and Ashwani was with Euphoria and myriad other acts), we always got together to play a couple of gigs here and there.
Manish: I was already playing with Ayushmann Khurrana and as mentioned earlier, Adi and I started doing a lot of duo sets and over a certain course of time, we started getting queries for bigger gigs. We knew we needed to expand the band 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 That’s when we invited Vipin Sharma on Bass, Elton Fernandes on the Saxophone to join the band.
Aditya: While everything has somehow snow-balled into something bigger, the sheer essence of the band stays the same – having fun in each other’s company. Whether it’s playing to an audience of 15 or 15,000, ‘The Unplugged Project’ has always given it their all, day in and day out. Honestly, the real journey has just started and as AC/DC had put it, “it’s a long way to top if you wanna rock n roll”.
What has been the best part of music for you and why?
Aditya: The best part about music is that while it can be your friend it is also your teacher. It teaches you to be patient,it teaches you to believe in yourself more than anything or anyone else. There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance and it teaches you how not to be the latter. I feel if you learn an instrument, you’re never lonely even when you’re alone. It’s like reading, if you’re a voracious reader, you would always have something to cling on to.
The industry is mostly a good place to be a part of. At the end of the day it’s your talent that speaks. The industry is extremely smart. They can smell from a mile away when you’re faking it. So be real. I guess what we can work on is to make independent music a little more viable for people. We’re too Bollywood centric at this point and I feel that music overall has become a little bourgeois. I miss the good old days of MTV when it was a hardcore music channel. They played so much indi-pop that it sort of inspired young musicians.
How does music change from boundaries to boundaries ?
Manish: Music doesn’t change, audiences do. Eventually there are 7 notes whether its’ Sa, Re, Ga, Ma or Do, Re, Mi, Fa. Our music mostly remains constant as we don’t bind ourselves in any particular genre. We love R.D Burman, Kishore Kumar as much as Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits. So when we play in different parts of the country or the world, it is the audience that’s dynamic. Depending on where we are, we alter our set to suit that particular audience but more or less our style remains the same.
Your future plans?
Aditya: Lots and lots of concerts- India and international; a few more original songs; hopefully put out a lot of content for our YouTube channel (we’ve been quite lazy as far as that is concerned). But basically become better musicians and just keep growing.
Manish: We want to do music for films, we want to sing for films. Like, Adi said, we are too Bollywood centric. The best way to reach to masses is via Bollywood simply because its reach is massive. And while we do want to take it to the next level, we also want to release our own material and just keep working hard to make our music popular.