With a punch-line fitting their reputation of leaving a sound mark wherever they go, this German duo love sharing their music with the world
(The Hindu) There are wandering musicians of all kinds, but none will take pride in the term as much as Germany’s Raggabund. The German duo, comprising Don Caramelo and Paco Mendoza, merged their love for reggae and Latin beats with organic sounds, handmade grooves and punch-lines to form Raggabund. Playing alongside Swiss reggae artistes The Dubby Conquerors, the eclectic duo recently conducted a music workshop for Sri Kumaran School, off Kanakapura Main Road, and also performed at Delhi Public School Bangalore South, all organised by the Goethe-Institut.
Bringing together elements of dancehall, Latin and reggae, Raggabund are some of the most sought-after artistes in the German offbeat scene. Teaming up with The Dubby Conquerors, they put live shows brimming with energy and musical excitement.
For the duo it is their first time in India and they are thrilled about this tour. “We didn’t know what to expect and how the audience will react to our music. The shows so far were fantastic. We started in Karachi, Pakistan and then Colombo, Sri Lanka and now India. Everywhere we were received warmly.”
While Caramelo and Mendoza are not familiar with any traditional artistes or bands in the country, their experience with Indian music goes back a long way. “There are elements of Indian music in popular music and pub culture since ages. Indian culture has a great impact on youth culture and club music. The country also has a deep connection with Great Britain and there are big Indian communities in America and Germany. In fact, every corner of the world you have people from India. So it is no surprise that we have encountered an Indian flavour in every form of music including reggae and electronica. Even the Beatles used Indian elements in their music!” says Caramelo.
Commenting on their own music, he says they make songs about everyday life. “The things that make us happy, anything that happens around us — they all find a place in our music. We also have some social messages in our lyrics — but we are not a political band. We want to have a good time with people who come to our shows. We do have some themes about things around us like the right wing forces in Europe, the refugee crisis or the environment, but we also have party songs, love songs and songs about everyday life. In every concert, we want to connect with the audience and have a good time together.”
On their workshops in Bengaluru, Caramelo says it was a memorable experience. “They could speak a little bit of German, thanks to Goethe Institut. They were conscious of what we do and interested in learning. We had a singer-songwriter group and a beatboxer group. They loved to experiment with sounds and voices. Afterwards, they showed us what they learnt too. They also attended the concert and saw our music practically.”
The duo recalls they have been doing nonsense together since childhood. “So making music as a fun pastime came naturally,” says Caramelo. “We had our own bands and projects. Then we decided to put what we liked together — reggae and Caribbean music with elements of Latin music since we had Latin roots in our family. We also brought in dancehall, hip-hop and electronic elements. We’ve also been working very close with two brothers we met from Switzerland — The Dubby Conquerors comprising Hermanos Mikey Board and De Luca. We’ve picked up a lot together influencing each other. Even our latest album Buena Medicina which means ‘good medicine’ in Spanish is a mix of styles and languages, including Spanish, German, French and Italian. It’s like cooking,” he laughs.
The name Raggabund is derived from the theme vagabond in German, explains Caramelo. “We put raga in the word to incorporate a musical touch and since our music takes us to so many places, that makes us musical vagabonds.” Looking ahead, the duo is planning a new album with the Swiss brothers. “We are also working together with an Indian band from Kolkata. It is amazing how music brings people together.”
On a parting note, Caramelo says, “The world is full of negativity and there are many things that are hard to manage. Music can be the soundtrack to keep our heads up and stay positive.”
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