Mumbai, 12th April 2021: Composer-violinist-orchestrator Sumeet Sarkar wears many hats and juggles them all quite effortlessly. Sumeet, who goes by the name of ‘Orchestereo’, has been been making music for mental health awareness through live streaming concerts on Twitch during the lockdown and also released his latest album ‘Cymatic Chronicles Vol 2’ after doing a 24 hour fundraiser for the Samaritans, a charity that aims at providing emotional support to anyone in distress and at the risk of suicide.
Sumeet’s discography boasts of popular international shows/documentaries like ‘Home’ on Apple TV which looks at some of the most innovative homes. Sumeet was the solo violinist on the music score composed by Amanda Jones for this documentary. It was nominated for an Emmy award in 2020 for Outstanding composition for a documentary series. We got on to a chat with him and here are the excerpts:
Music and wellness have a deep connection, what made you take up this initiative of creating music for mental wellbeing?
My own mental health and narrating my experiences through cinematic music. Minimalism played a big part in my lifestyle and influenced my sound as well. I later began performing with more musicians and social settings and while being in a small setting celebrating the introvert and this later grew. My performances became more interactive and later a form of music therapy. We had many talks on our well being and I later reflected on other peoples stories using the techniques of film composing to bring a narrative to life, we brought life experiences which resulted in a continuous conversation with music. Through this, I have developed my artist persona “Orchestereo” that represents the textures of traditional orchestras and electronic music “stereo” since this is music to relax with headphones, that gives me the opportunity to provide deeper ambient mixes that my audience can heal to.
Tell us about Cymatic Chronicles Vol 2. How was the experience of creating this album?
This album was written during the COVID lockdown live on twitch through the year and was signed with Ambedo Records, a record label promoting ambient minimalism from composers based in the US. I am grateful for my team that helped me push through the album and we had completed it with doing a constant 24 hour stream in December while raising funds for the Samaritans, an organisation based in the UK focussing on suicide prevention.
Overall this has been a phenomenal experience as I had put in my savings along with crowd funding to build my own studio and computers during the lockdown to complete the album and had composed, recorded, engineered the album single handedly and created an environment with my community and supporters to provide easy listening during troubled times with the pandemic aimed at creatives, gamers and students within my audience. I have learnt new instruments such as the piano, mandolin, bass and electronic wind instrument along with understanding coding and scripting for my tech. This album represents the support and connection during a time in the world that we are disconnected due to the lockdown. I have learnt more about how to be an empath and communicate with my audience.
Augmented Reality vs Live, which would be more challenging and why?
They seem to be mutual. Right now, my goal is to combine the two through an interactive performance with my audience. This results in combining my skills of film composition, being a multi instrumentalist and music technologist.
How much, in your opinion, is the impact of technology good and not so good for music?
In a time where we have access to resources worldwide in an instance, we have the ability to create art how we wish to and the audience has the ability to enjoy what they wish to as well i.e we aren’t limited to the music around us only that creates this desire to repeat to sustain. If there is an audience growing through a certain form of art involving technology, it is because there is an opening to innovate and expand. Composers like Mozart and Wagner had demanded larger halls treated acoustically during their times to support their own styles of Opera with the technology available. This is similar with bands like Queen recording multi layers to keep adding harmonies or even the accessibility of travel that allowed the Beatles to be influenced through the music of Ravi Shankar. What we see today is no different as artists will agree that we push our abilities further and have this need to expand out of necessity while we are still able to perform in good health. With our ability to record history and learn from it, we are moving faster due to communication/networking and not having to reinvent the wheel when other artists are. So we learn from each other and contribute. From my side my machines are a part of me and my performances no. My persona “Orchestereo” doesn’t exist without them.
There are no rules in music, they never were, but there are formulas to learning different styles and I am an artist developing my own.
What should music followers expect from you in the coming times, apart from the just released album?
I am working on the next albums, Cymatic Chronicles Vol 3 and 4 in Los Angeles where I will be recording my ensemble live in Los Angeles at Verdugo Studios, creating a more cinematic approach to ambient minimalism as this will merge with my augmented instruments.
My recent music work on Ginny and Georgia has been featured as number 1 on netflix and accompanying that is the documentary Strip Down Rise Up, a documentary that expresses therapy through a pole dancing program that deals with post trauma. My work as a violinist on the documentary series Home on apple TV composed by Amanda Jones was nominated for an Emmy award in 2020 for original score and the documentary “Ruth, Justice Ginsburg in her own words” has recently been released on Hulu, Prime Video and Apple TV. While releasing my artist persona as Orchestereo making music for mental health awareness, I will be continuing composing music for film in Hollywood and presenting various workshops and concerts in the US, once our venues and studios are accessible. I also plan on creating live ambient performances through Ambedo Records as a form of music therapy in Los Angeles.
How has been your experience of collaborating with various well known personalities that you have? What could you imbibe from them?
Working alongside Jacob Collier has been a humble experience as we celebrated the introvert through music and I had been inspired to expand my own ideas and tech through my music after leading the orchestra with him at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My work with Grammy winning composer Lili Haydn through these past 4 years on various films has taught me to be patient with my own sound and that we do not need permission to create art. Through the label Ambedo Records, I am able to work with the incredible roster of ambient minimalist composers such as Andre Corea that advocate mental health as well. Surrounding myself with the energies I had been fortunate to meet through this journey has been both a blessing and a great deal of rises from failures that teach you to improvise and adapt. Being a professional streamer on Twitch, I am also collaborating with the music and gaming community through the lockdown as we all have access to the ability to stream, we also have access to collaborate and commission immediately and it has been an interesting experience to work alongside many talented artists and gamers that can use my abilities to record an orchestra through live and virtual within a day or be commissioned to compose with my film scoring experience for their content. There have been opportunities to expand through communities and who we pass by that have an idea to share. Those ideas can truly be gifts of wisdom or an innovative experience.
Tell us about your music education
I grew up in South Africa and part of my family resides in India thus influencing me to open up to both western and eastern traditions growing up. I excelled as the first South African Indian violinist to play in various symphony orchestras after the South African Arpartheid area as we went through change. During my high school years, I had attended the National School of Arts in Johannesburg that primarily focussed on music and later studied at the University of Free State on a full scholarship after receiving the Protea Award from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I had received my diplomas in performance and music education through Trinity College London. After building my experience as a performer with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Grahamstown and Stellenbosch International Festivals, I had set out to pursue my career in the United States while studying my bachelors at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and pursued my studies in jazz violin that later turned to film composition, video composition and performance in world music. With my studies at Berklee, I had the opportunity to perform with Esperanza Spalding, Howard Shore, Rosanne Cash, Nile Rodgers, Kaki King in various settings like the Boston Symphony Hall and Vijay Prikash with the renowned Berklee Indian Ensemble. These experiences combined with the mentorship I had in Los Angeles while being able to write music for shows on Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV, has prepared me as a full time composer and recording multi instrumentalist along with being an audio engineer and music technologist.
Any additional comments
I stream mental health talks and music therapy sessions through twitch during the lockdown to help create an environment where people can enjoy an interactive performance as I make music for mental health awareness with multiple instruments and augmented reality. You can follow me through https://www.twitch.tv/orchestereo to stay up to date with upcoming performances as I will be incorporating both live performances and streams together with my technology.
It was an interesting interaction, wishing Cymatic Chronicles Vol 2 great success!