My job today is to try and condense my experience on Tuesday August 18th, at the Tara Baswani concert, down into 1000 words or less. The concert was just shy of a full hour (in fact I thought it ended all too soon) so you would think this would be no obstacle. But at this point in time I can’t think of anything more challenging than placing this group of artists into a container as confining as 1000 words.
Nestled into a corner of the Gladstone hotel, you are met with a stage hosting a drum kit, a Contrebass, a violin, an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, a few effects pedals, and a music stand with a mic, washed in warm hues of colour. Being the keener I am, I did my homework and researched the lead of the group Tara Baswani, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the blending of sounds and styles in the concert to come. Very little talking for introductions off the top, and right into the juice of it. Then the music began to wash over you.
Consuming, hypnotic, and vibrating are a few words that come to mind when trying to articulate the first few minutes of the concert. Before genres and labels jumped in to classify, it was like taking that first sip of coffee in the morning. You can feel it, going down, gently waking you up from the inside out. The set consisted of original work found on her EP “Quest: Origins” (go buy this! No seriously…) and covers from Joni Mitchell (my freakin hero) to the likes of Bjork. The event felt personal, and intimate, like we were sharing a special secret with the musicians. Aided by poetry and personal letters between the music, it helped to keep me in the world created by these artists. I thought very hard about ‘their sound’, how I could help communicate what I was hearing, and even after speaking to the band, I am still no closer. Jazz, Folk, Ambient, heavy rock influences, Experimental, or as they described: World music grooves. When speaking with the group after the show, they all cited influences across many genres of music from Jimi Hendrix, to Myles Davis, to Sufjan Stevens, to Ratatat. It is clear to me this diversity within the group must be the key ingredient to navigating this blending of styles with such artistry.
The transitions were fluid, and coheavsive suggesting a group that has played together for many years; much to my shock this was their second show together as a band! It was after the show that I had the opportunity to meet with and pick the brains of Tara Baswani (lead vocals), Jean Luc Huet (acoustic/electric guitar), and Guillaume Duchesneau (violinelectric/acoustic). The warmth and sincerity carried off the stage and into our personal encounters. I immediately regretted all the French classes that I had ever skipped as these are artists based out of Montreal, but all three were incredibly humble and open making for easy conversation anyway. We discussed their influences, how they describe their music to others, and how they all came to be playing together. Tara also made mention of how she never really loved the creation of this collection of music until everyone had come together to play it, and the life it found through these other musicians.
As an artist myself I am always inspired and intrigued by listening to other artists talk about their work, and this was no exception. I was left with so much delicious perspective on the role of the artist stated simply as, to make others happy, spread joy, and make people feel; about community/family/belonging, as well as our responsibility each other to be cognisent and aware humans. I get a deep sense of ‘art as activism’ as well, from this groups work. Whether or not that is intentional, I cannot say for certain but it vibrates regardless, in their brilliant articulation. However, as generous and inspiring as the short interview was, there is one thing that guitarist, Jean Luc said to me, when I asked him about what he considers when putting a together a show, that stuck to me; it is what I would like to leave you with. I asked what he considers while putting up a show and he responded with “…I just want to focus on making it the best work that it can be.
I have no control over whether or not people will like it, all I can do is honour it with all of my attention, and then let it be what it is.” Oh the life lessons that this could be sentiment to, are unending!
Be sure to get out and catch the amazing artists with Tara Baswani the next time you are moving through Montreal, and for heavens sake go and get the EP ‘Quest: Origins’. There is no confirmed date on when they will be rolling back through this great city, but should you be lucky enough to catch it, you are in store for something incredible!