Founded by Hindustani vocalist Nirali Kartik and award-winning composer & music producer Kartik Shah, Maati Baani is blending India’s folk and classical music with various genres and has collaborated with hundreds of homegrown musicians as well as many from around the globe.
There's no denying that India's folk music is rich. Each state has something unique to offer, and every district has its own distinct musical flavor. Seeking inspiration from this and their love for folk music, Nirali Kartik and Kartik Shah founded Maati Baani to encompass a variety of musical genres. Later they decided to cross the borders as the duo always believed music is a language with no barriers. They have collaborated with hundreds of Indian and international musicians and have featured voices singing in Hindi, Gujarati, Sindhi, and Rajasthani languages.
"Initially, we did not have a name in mind, but we knew for sure that this is going to encompass a variety of genres, and we always wanted a lot of musical genres in one place. We thought of several English names but later felt that everything global doesn't require an English name, and why don't we name it in Hindi or our language? So, we came up with Maati Baani, which means the language of the Earth", said Nirali.
An open canvas of music
From collaborating with regional musicians to working with international singers and instrumentalists, Maati Baani has undoubtedly given some magnificent musical gems such as Rangderi, Suraj Ka Gola, Karpur Gauram, Maarag, and Boondan Booindan to the world. For one of their projects named The Music Yantra, the duo collaborated with 70 musicians from 20 countries, all via the Internet in 2016, and all six songs from the same were a hit.
"At one point in time, we did a lot of folk songs and felt we should stick to it, but after a while, we thought of experimenting to stay inspired. We didn't want to restrict ourselves to a particular language or musical style that puts us in a box, and so collaborating with other people working with different instruments, languages, and genres really helps and makes it even more fun for us", and that's why it's always a new story and a new song for Nirali, Kartik, and Maati Baani.
Music is a language in itself
There's no denying that music does connect people and is powerful to such an extent that language isn't a barrier. The same goes for folk music, and Nirali feels we as people are already connected to it, and it's in our blood and soul. "Whether we know the words or can understand what the singer is singing, we anyway enjoy it. Folk music speaks to the soul. It's charming, mysterious, simple, yet very appealing. The future is bright as people are listening to it and musicians are using it", smiled Nirali while talking about the future of folk music.
And it's true! Music has magical powers and can leave you enchanted if done right. The duo has always found common ground between different musical styles and genres in all their collaboration, and it's mind-boggling. " We went to Holland and got a chance to collaborate with saxophonists and clarinetists. They obviously didn't know anything about classical ragas but were open to it. When I sang, they repeated and ended up playing some alaap and taan. So, music is a language in itself and that's why musicians will always connect", she added.
We love how Maati Baani has composed masterpieces while sticking to their roots. They have taken fusion music to the next level, and it's worth applauding. The duo has even created magic for various series and films and is definitely here for the long run leaving their traces in the form of notes, ragas, and taan. " Composing for a film, series, or show is a little more challenging because there is a certain framework that we have been given. So if it works, it works, and if it doesn't, then it doesn’t. It's important to keep your mind and heart open, as inspiration may not strike every day. Be open to experiments and do not be rigid as there are multiple ways to success", said Nirali.
And with various platforms available, she thinks it's an excellent opportunity for musicians across the globe. It may have increased the competition, and discovering real talent from this sea of music can be difficult, but things will work out for you if you are consistent.