The Snake Charmer is not the title someone would to like to choose for herself knowing the India’s history, it has its own pros and cons. But neither do people take risk presenting their rendition of a classics where they experiment at a great extent. That either leads to massive round of applause or they’ll hate you forever with it. A classic is a classic and no one should mess with it. But Archy Jay has been a little daredevil in herself and did both the tasks. Popularly known as The Snake Charmer, she took the world by the storm with her dubstep version of AC/DC‘s Thunderstruck with a bagpipes. Now there’s a combination you may not have heard the past. Archy Jay, perfectly named The Snake Charmer, because of her own sound with the bagpipe, had released a couple of videos in the past that included covers of Game of Thrones theme, Inis Mona by Eluveitie. Experimenting at this level is quite perilous, but you surely won’t have the treats if it’s just the thing they need, unless you try.
Metal Wani’s Shivam Kalra had a quick chat with Archy Jay about all things music. This is what she had to say:
Before we talk about the craziness you have spread with your instrument, as a musician, what is your aim to play bagpipe? What do you want to introduce in the music industry?
I love this instrument and that’s why I play it, I see myself doing so much with it in the future. The aim is to introduce Bagpipes to all forms of music in India and Globally.
Bagpipe is quite an exotic instrument, and very few people choose it. What grew your affinity towards it?
When I first watched Eluveitie’s Inis mona, i fell in love with two things. The Band and the Bagpipes! I knew it was going to be hard as hell to learn but I had to do it, I had my mind on it.
There are more than 50 types of bagpipes, how was the procedure of finding that perfect bagpipe, what was the criteria, what did you look for?
Nope, more than 100 different Bagpipes exist. That look and function differently ,sound differently. The procedure on choosing which type was suitable for me took me Months! really, as bagpipes tuning can be affected by hot climates and many other complications so i chose a semi acoustic ones. So that I can atleast get started off
Picking up an instrument isn’t the hardest task, playing it is. To learn an instrument, you have to be loyal to your routine and have a constant determination to learn. And there are no bagpipe players in India. How hard was it for you to keep playing it and not giving up on it? And how did you learn?
Very true, the hardest part is to stick to it and be determined and work on a robotic routine. There are Bagpipe players in India too, but they’re mostly in army bands or very regional hence not a lot of people know that Bagpipes and Bagpipe players exist in India. What i do is mainly non traditional playing and since im coming up as a commercial bagpipe artist. It is definitely the First of its kind to emerge from India and i hope to create a legacy off it . Hard to believe but i learnt most of the playing myself! Back in 2011 when i decided to learn Bagpipes i did not find any suitable tutoring available here in India. So after a lot of trying here and there i finally decided that I’ve got to be the Teacher I’m looking for. After this i got my self a Bagpipe tutorial book and unreal it seems when i look back, but yeah i learnt playing this instrument reading through a book. Thankfully i knew how to read music to an extent and so i learnt the basics for a year n half before getting an actual set of pipes.
There went a lot of hard work, frustration and me breaking down several times, not having a teacher physically really sucked! Because when you don’t have a teacher you lack the direction of moving forward and moving in the right direction, and i constantly had doubts on whether or not what I’m learning is correct technique wise. There were many times when I was frustrated and even cried (lol) that “i don’t know what to practice” which is a major road end to anyone learning. Thankfully i somehow moved out of that phase now. In April 2014, i went to Glasgow Scotland to National Piping Centre and took a short 5 day course . I basically wanted to know if what I’ve learnt has been right and what and how to move forward from the point where i was. I got the answers i needed and came back home to practice and get better everyday by putting in hours of practice time .
Talking about your recent music video, you swayed the whole country by your rendition of Thunderstruck, that too on a bagpipe, fusing some mixed musical elements. People don’t usually do that, and they stay miles away from classics when experiment is this big because of all the hate they get. Why did you choose this particular track?
That’s an interesting question and i’d love to answer that. Yes people don’t usually do that, people don’t do many things out of the box because they fear hate. I knew a lot of hate would come from the “purists” with posting this track. It did too, and i was cool about it. Creativity has no boundaries and its only pity when people like to narrow that creativity just because of “judgements”. Some people may hate dubstruck only because we created a very different version of it with “Dubstep” and ohhh rock / metal fans shouldn’t listen/appreciate dubstep because it doesn’t’ suit the image etc.. If people are appreciative enough and creative enough they would see the potential of this song and how many elements it had to offer. This is the first time in the world of Internet that a Dubstep Bagpipe version of a Rock n Roll song has ever been done and i am proud to present it because of how Unique this is.
How was the Dubstruck made and what all hard work sent behind it?
A lot of hard work and months of hard work. Its not easy to look at a cult song like Thunderstruck into a completely different Genre and have the vision to incorporate a dubstep version which is completely contradictory to how the song originally. The master mind behind this vision was Karan Katiyar, who arranged the music for this song and put those cool dubstep effects on it. He is a guitar player for a metal band and for him to come up with something in lines of Dubstep was a stunner and shocker at the same time. He does similar off beat, out of the box metal parodies on his YouTube channel too. So the creating part’s full credits go to him. Paras Khanna, produced this track at his studio and did a brilliant job in mixing everything and making sure it kicks some hard ass.
There’s no argument about why you chose alias as The Snake Charmer, clearly heard in your music. Many musicians face hard time finding their sound, which hinder their growth in many ways, some spend their lives finding that perfect sound. How did you find your sound of The Snake Charmer?
Very true! Its hard to find that sound that is for you. When i was learning Bagpipes i went through a lot of Scottish, Irish songs that involved that folk yet punchy sound. I really loved it and that hit me enough to identify with it. You know, its the kind of sound that brings you JOY not just a smile to your face or adrenaline but JOY. That’s what i felt atleast and i realised, this is the sound I’m after eventually.
Besides being an impeccable bagpipe player, you’re also an awesome singer, is it safe to presume you’re gonna make a big entry in music industry and serve a totally new dish?
Yes, i am also a singer. I was the vocalist for an Alt. metal band called RogueSaints from New Delhi, i find that as an advantage for me that i can sing and also fairly play my instrument. About the big entry, there is still a lot of work to do which i am doing and i really do hope that does happen for me to serve the new dish to a larger audience 🙂
They say that if you learn one type of instrument, learning others of the same category is comparatively easy. Like you learn guitar learning other stringed instrument is easy, or you learn table and learning other percussive instruments is easy. How close is a bagpipe when shifting from one air instrument like to bagpipe?
Bagpipes to another instrument maybe easier to shift but other wind instruments like flute, clarinet etc i am not sure how easy it would be to turn to playing Bagpipes. Playing Bagpipes require a lot of strength and coordination. Unlike flute ( and i mean absolutely no disrespect) sound is not creating by only blowing air into the Bagpipe. You first fill the air in the bag and then press the bag gently with your arm to create a slight pressure, enough so that sound can be produced and then you mold that sound to notes you desire by playing the chanter.
What’s next on Archy Jay’s mind? Tell us about your upcoming material?
Many more things are on my mind, except Anything. I really want to experiment the Bagpipes with all kinds of music but essentially stuff that i like. I have my mind set on coming up with a metal cover with the Bagpipes very soon and on contrary to that i may also do a House/EDM cover , folk or dubstep again.
Thanks for doing this Interview. Good luck with all your future endeavours.
Thank you for the interview, it was great sharing my experience so far