Edition #53 – Chandrika Tandon answers 7 questions

by | Oct 26, 2023

1. Why are you a musician?

Music is what I am and everything else is what I do. My happiest moments in life have been tied to music, and music helped me find myself.

Very sophisticated Indian music, requires you to quiet the mind and go to the deepest part of yourself.

If I go back to every experience from childhood, I don’t remember what the chores were, or the details of any experience, but I know every song that I was singing.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

I appreciate many genres of music and have for a very long time. Growing up there were only two stations – so I listened to everything those stations played with no choice. I heard Indian classical icons like MS Subbalakshmi and Pandit Jasraj, as well as the Beatles, the Seekers, Cliff Richard, Stan Getz, and Charlie Byrd, and so many more.

Over the next few decades as I traveled for work around the world, I learned languages through music – French through Françoise Hardy and Enrico Macias and Jacques Brel, Portuguese through Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Antonio Carlos Jobim, the list goes on. These artists cross time, genres, and continents, and I continue to discover more.

3. What is your practice routine?

I sing a couple of hours a day if I can – sometimes I start singing very late at night and sing through the wee hours.

In my mind, there are three kinds of practice:

1) when you are singing – scales, vocalizing, etc.

2) when you are listening, critically to recordings or practice sessions

3) when in silence, taking a complete break, as you can access different levels of super consciousness and creativity

For me, all three of these practices are equally important.

4. Why did you make this album?

Ammu’s Treasures
By Chandrika Tandon

Ammu’s Treasures started out as a gift to my grandchildren. Ammu is a delicious term of endearment – it means sweetness, it means joy, it means purity – that my grandchildren call me. I started singing to my first grandson during our bedtime routine and this would stretch into hours, he would want more and more so I had to delve into my childhood trove to find my memories … in French, in Portuguese, in Sanskrit, in English, in Hindi.

I decided to create a simple recording over a quick, three-day trip MASS MoCa with a small musical cabinet. Except, as all good things do, it blossomed. Every musician in the room, captivated by the purity and spirit of the songs, urged me to create a fuller album as a gift for children and for anyone who had a hole in their heart for love. They invited their other artist friends to join the journey. To make it more accessible to children, we have also made 36 lyric videos with an incredible character called Ammu – they are made to the highest production standards.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this album?

The greatest obstacle is the very thing that sets this album apart, the size and scale of Ammu’s Treasures – it is three volumes, 35 songs, 21 chants, it is 2 hours and 17 minutes of music in many languages, genres, and musical complexity.

The challenge with this album is getting it heard and not overwhelming people, in an age when a twenty second sound bite seems like a lot.

More is indeed More! I believe we underestimate children – they want to hear Sway one day, and the next day they want to hear a Vedic chant, and another day they want to hear Que Sont Devenues Les Fleurs; their brains are ready to soak it all up, they can truly absorb a lot but they have to find it first.

6. Who is featured on this album?

Seventeen amazing maestros, big groups of strings, and great sound engineers, that all came together to make Ammu’s Treasures – contributing their musicianship and tender emotions to this gift for children and families. We made this to the absolute highest production standards.

The roster includes artists like Cyro Baptista, Martin Bejerano, Peter Calo, Purbayan Chatterjee, Rakesh Chaurasia, Béla Fleck, Eugene Friesen, Maeve Gilchrist, Jamey Haddad, Bobby Keyes, Kevin Kliesch, Howard Levy, Romero Lubambo, Marcus Rojas, Dave Schroeder, Michael Ward-Bergeman, Kenny Werner, and many more; and incredible production and sound artistry by Scott Cannizzaro, Kevin Killen, Adam Ayan, Teese Gohl, John Kiehl, Mirek Vana, and so many more.

This was a journey of joy and love that comes from over a hundred people!

7. Where may we find you online?