Max Clouth Clan on Incorporating Indian Music and Jazz
The members of the Max Clouth Clan are busy setting up their instruments for the evening concert. Although they are a German band whose music is rooted in jazz, there are also strains of Indian, rock, electronic and even West Asian music.
“Each of us likes different genres of music and that is reflected in our work. For example, Martin likes electronic music, while Markus likes West Asian music. Our music ultimately grows organically from our interactions and Indian music has a predominance in our work. I try to create contemporary instrumental music that transforms elements of Indian classical music into western stylistics, especially European jazz,” says Max Clouth as he takes a coffee break with bandmates Winfried Rimbach-Sator , Markus Wach and Martin Standke.
The leader of the four-year-old music troupe, Max’s love affair with India began after listening to John McLaughlin’s group, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which fused electric jazz and rock with influences Oriental and Indian. Fascinated by Indian rhythms, the guitarist from Frankfurt spent four years training in classical music with the famous tabla and sitar Nayan Ghosh. To capture the tones of an Indian sarod on his guitar, Max asked a friend of his to make him a double neck guitar.
Returning to Frankfurt after learning “all about ragas and talas”, he decided to start a band that would play music reflecting his experiences in India. “But, since I had been away from Germany for so many years, I didn’t know any local musicians. So I decided to try random musician numbers I looked up in a phone book. Martin was the first person I called,” says Max.
Martin smiles when he says that although his knowledge of Indian music was limited at the time, he was captivated by Max’s idea of infusing Indian flavors into jazz.
All the band members are in their thirties. Although their interests in music may differ, it is their love for music that unites them. “Also, the fact that we are almost always together when we travel to various places with our music. The experiences you have and share through travel tend to bring you closer,” says Martin.
Music festivals, they say, helped popularize their work. “Music festivals not only attract crowds, but they also help us reach a wider audience, especially young people. The success of an individual concert depends on the organizers and how they market the event,” says Markus.
The group releases its second album, ‘Kamaloka’, which offers jazz rock with an Indian touch. The members describe the album as being similar to a road movie where the protagonists travel to distant lands and engage with its people and land. “We collaborated with Indian musicians such as Varijashree Venugopal, Sriparna Nandi and Ishaan Ghosh for ‘Kamaloka’. For us as artists, combining the two worlds is exciting,” says Markus.
Max Clouth Clan works as a team on his music tracks. “For example, I had in mind the idea of a ballad, a soft and melodic piece. However, as we started jamming, with everyone’s ideas, we came out with an energetic track. That’s why everyone contributes significantly to the final shape of the pieces,” says Max.
According to Max, ‘Kamaloka’ shows their progression as a group.
“I think we were still trying to find our voice in our debut album ‘Return Flight’. But then I feel like every record shows his growth as an artist. I’m sure in our next album, our music will sound different as we continue to discover our voice. The (recent) tour will deepen our influences and the connection with India, its people and its musicians. I hope this will also be reflected in the songs and sound of our next album,” says Max.
Max Clouth Clan was in town as part of a tour of India, courtesy of Goethe-Zentrum.