Mirror Magazine

17th March 2002

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Experience Alien Accent

By Ruhanie Perera 
"If your typical musical show is just food for the soul, consider this a lavish banquet...", runs the tag line to the Alien Accent concert. 

The preparations for Alien Accent's show 'Rites of Passage', which will be on at the Bishop's College Auditorium on March 22,23 and 24, are indeed like that of a banquet. The trio who make up Alien Accent have been running around planning, preparing, practising and putting in finishing touches to this 'gourmet' musical effort purely for your listening pleasure. 

Where practising is concerned, they treat it as a relative term - it's never enough and the whole effort has left them, as DK of Alien Accent puts it, "stressed to the eyeballs". This is going be to a one-of-a-kind show, they promise. For them, their greatest moment is to be on stage performing for their own people, and naturally everything possible has been done to ensure a "different" kind of show. 

Different - that seems to be part of their identity - starting from the connotations of their name. "Oh that," says leader of the group Suresh with a laugh, "That happened some time ago when we needed a name and one that went with our flavour of music. People at the time were also trying to label our music, which was slightly hard to define." 

What was their music all about? English, but it sounded foreign; there were strains of local folk, yet it sounded alien. Yes, their accent was very much one that was alien: And voila! Alien Accent was born. The Alien Accent you will see at the concert comprises and encompasses, if I may borrow from the advertisement again, 'Suresh, DK and Ricky Bahar - A decade and a half of inspiration, in an original musical odyssey. 

Each one of the trio has a distinct role cut out for them. A very guessable role is that of Suresh, the sometimes quiet and almost tranquil Suresh who tends to speak in capsules of poetic thought - he is the songwriter - in his hands begins the group's musical creation. 

Next comes vibrant, always ready with a clever quip, DK who dabbles with the musical arrangement of the song, experimenting with vocals, harmonies and everything else those in his line experiment with. 

To link it up comes in Ricky Bahar who as the lead singer gives the breath of life to Alien Accent's music. Between the three of them there is a lot of common ground, well a lot meaning, 60 to 70 percent. That, I suppose is as good as it gets, for there is bound to be some difference of opinion. And that is what makes up the remaining percentage; it is the zone where they don't see eye-to-eye and individual taste takes precedence. 

"Naturally, we've had different musical influences and that is what shapes our individual tastes," says Suresh. Although this may spell trouble and many a shouting match in any other instance, but for Alien Accent it means diversity in their music. "Our difference of opinion, where music is concerned, is a factor that is to our advantage since we aim to be different and strive to create totally new sounds. So it really is a plus point that enriches our music."

In the end, when putting things together, difference of opinion or not everything comes together. This happens quite possibly because of their rock solid "sense of identity". Says Suresh: "The end result is up to the three of us and that takes shape when we work at it together." It's definitely a formula that works for them because their 'end results' over the years contained in their album 'Rites of Passage' - which will be released at the concert - have not just wowed audiences at home but have also impressed producers, musicians and music lovers in Los Angeles winning them the once in a lifetime opportunity of recording their album in the States by professional musicians. 

'Rites of Passage' is an inspired collaboration of East and West, featuring some of the finest session musicians in LA. The album was directed by Hussain Jiffrey, a Sri Lankan born musician and was digitally mixed and mastered in LA. 

The single most important lesson they have learnt from all of their experiences as musicians is that talent alone is not enough to reach the pinnacle of any career. 

You have to be 100 percent committed, ready to put in a lot of hard work, maintain high standards of professionalism and discipline. Discipline? Now that's a funny word to associate with the uninhibited musicians and their free, no-limits kind of music- but there you have it straight from the horse's mouth. Although the guys did maintain a standard of discipline where their work was concerned, the d-word took on greater proportions after their LA experience. "Even if it's something like showing up late for a practice, which happens constantly here, you are done for. You show up late and you don't have the gig. Everyone learns that you can't do the minimum and just get by. That's something that we've believed in. We continuously set higher standards for ourselves and work our way up to it." 

Their 100 percent commitment stems from the fact that music has been an important part of their lives. Even in their 'college days' - from stressful exam times to those days when you've got da blues - music has been a source of inspiration. "Creating and experimenting with music, although at one level can be hard, gives us a sense of satisfaction." 

Creating original music, they feel, is a challenge with (at present) not much rewards - except the personal satisfaction they get out of it. Still they remain passionate about their work. "It's got to do with this unquenchable urge to create music." 

Almost as often as 'create', 'listen' comes into the conversation as well. Says Suresh, "In music, listening is more important than anything else. Just as much as it's something you enjoy, it is in fact your inspiration to create. Everything you create is the sum total of your life experience of listening. - What did I say, add a tune to that and I'm sure there's a song in it!" 

You want more of that, tickets for their concert are available at the Bishop's College Auditorium. 

Now it's your right
The show: Rites of Passage

The venue: Bishop's College auditorium

The date: March 22, 23 and 24.

The performers: Alien Accent (Suresh, DK and Ricky Bahar) backed by Aruna Siriwardhana, Kumar De Silva, Shane Berenger, Shobi Perera, with Thilan Wijesinghe as guest artiste.

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