Today we are sitting down for an interview with Ryan Shivdasani of the NYC Based Trio – recording and performing artists The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina to find out a little more about the group and what’s going on in their world.
In what genre or style would you classify your music?
I think primarily it’s a psychedelic rock band, and also sort of fusion and experimental. At least in the spirit of drawing and blending different genres and using strange concepts. We also have 90s alternative and folk rock elements.
Who are your top 5 musical influences? Also, please tell us who inspires you?
I’ve been playing for 25 years and have gone through many phases and have way too many influences to just list off five, as do the other guys in the group. Ones that are most relevant to this project are things like Hendrix, Zeppelin, and The Beatles. There’s also a 60s funk and soul element, as well as jazz fusion and 90s grunge and songwriting.. so maybe James Brown, Sly Stone, Weather Report, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley.. and of bands that were popular in my life maybe Beck, The Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Chilli Peppers, NIne Inch Nails.
What do you want your fans to take from your music after they leave the venue where you have just performed?
I want them to feel refreshed and excited and think they might’ve found a new favorite band!
What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?
I have 4… and I saw them all within a month and by invitation: Earth Wind and Fire, War, The Mother’s of Invention (Zappa’s band), and The Jason Bonham Experience (John Bonham’s son’s Zeppelin tribute band)
I like how things tend to come together and how we seem to connect more and more. My favorite playing has been live at this point. It’s great. Also the things people come up to tell us after the set are always really rewarding.
Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?
Nope. I go back and forth between a lot of them. I think what really stands out is the broad scope of styles we cover cohesively and the over all quality of the songwriting and playing. But in terms of showcasing, maybe Blood Country features different aspects of our playing, and I’m proud of having managed to incorporate a jazz improve section in it as well. Particle craze is also interesting, as its kinda funky, has an odd form, and has nylon and slide guitar.
How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?
In a lot of ways. I’ve started incorporating odd meters into my songwriting and have tightened up a lot. My jazz playing and general musicisnship skills have improved as well. I also understand the process of recording professionally a lot better now as well as how to better lead a band. I’ve gotten more confident playing live and my singing has improved. We have a lot of recordings in backstock, but made some recent ones that could really show how we’ve been evolving, both as individuals and together. We’d really started to dial in on a certain sound and knew each others playing very well at that point. Also I’d say my song writing is leaning more towards goofy and fun and I’m generally writing pretty solid and straightforward tunes. So over all just a little wiser and more mature.
If you could meet, play a gig with, co-write a song with, have dinner with or have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?
Gawd. Hendrix. But he’s far from the only one. He’s just the only one I’m sure I have to mention, so I guess he must be it.
How many songs /albums have you released to date? Would you mind naming them and telling us a little bit about them?
I released one of low quality unmixed mp3s a couple years ago that I took out of circulation, as well as one I recorded on my own while we were recording this that I didn’t release (but still might). So this is the first official one. Part of the reason is I never knew how seriously to take my songwriting, as I was always primarily focused on my guitar playing. Also because although I’ve for a long time been able to write decent songs and melodies.. I was never a very strong singer. I’d play in other people’s bands but never really found a good match apart from friends I’d jam with. That and all my favorite rock and roll had always been from the 60s.
Can you tell us about your latest release and the background/inspirations behind it?
It’s 13 of my 50 or 60 songs I’ve hung on to over the years (and actually we recorded 10 more and are working on another 7). A few of them I wrote while we were recording, and some of them I changed drastically from the original versions to fit the band.
As for song meanings… my general pattern is that I like to leave the meanings open to interpretation. But there’s a story behind most of my songs. If not referred directly or metaphorically then where the came from in terms of my thought process.
And the happened over a long time period and there are many more. To me this album is a first installment.
What’s your dream gig?
I want to do big shows for large crowds, but also want to do personal shows where people really can focus on the vibe and the playing. It’s the sound of a stage and the way a room feel that get me. The better it feels, the more people I wish could see it.
Whose music do you listen to? Who are your influences?
I’ve really just listened to so much music.. I would say I’m someone who thinks every genre has its originators and great artists.. I just focus on those. There are enough of them to never run out or ever have to listen to a bad song again.
But as it pertains to this band.
Where would you place yourself in the “Sounds Like” category?
One couple who saw us and said they were trying to figure out if I sounded more like Hendrix or Jimmy Page. I really liked that, and like to think we sound like we could fit in with that era and style.
How have you ended up in the music industry? What would you be doing if you were not a musician?
At this point I’m not sure I could do the other things I would’ve perused. I was close to a competition level skier at one point for instance. Can’t do that anymore. And I’m generally mathematical and interested in science, but probably won’t be going back for an engineering degree at this point.
But.. since when does being a musician have anything to do with the music industry? I’d still be playing, just like I am now and have been.
How do you and your musical style differ from other artists?
We combine many things and do it functionally, so it’s still enjoyable. Then it has the effect of really getting people’s attention rather than scaring them off.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I’m a health and fitness buff. I like to read, and sorta get fixated on things.. like recently.. haha.. I’m sorta ‘into’ Bigfoot’s. I also have a thing for aliens and ghosts… you see… I’m a nerd.
Tell us more about your upcoming project or this new project?
We have another 10 songs we recorded with these so will release that, then we have a short one we’re working on and I want to do some new ones, maybe a whole album of acoustic songs. I really want to incorporate more jazz somehow. Like maybe do a whole album of upright, nylon guitar, and brushes, but also open up a lot.
Has your new album or single received any significant radio airplay?
Can you tell us all of the music distribution portals where your music is available?
CDbaby, iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp.
Can you have increasing commercial success and retain your artistic integrity?
Yeah definitely. In fact it would give me more outlets and the time and freedom to have more.
I assume you use Spotify to promote your music. How are you doing there and how can fans find you on Spotify?
Just search our band name, ‘The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina’ and the album is called Act 3.
Can you tell us your official website URL and all Social website URLs where fans can find you online?
What’s in the pipeline after this project?
More albums. I want to get after my guitar playing hard, and I’m sure still write and play songs.
Photo Credit: Lauri Pockar / firstname.lastname@example.org