When keyboardist Merlin D’Souza says “Music is in my DNA. How’s that for a headline?” and then begins to shake with laughter.
Merlin makes up a fourth of the fusion quartet, Soul Shakti, but she’s a performer all her own, not to mention composer, arranger, and mother of one (who’s already a rock star clarinetist in the making).
After a triumphant tour of China and Malaysia (with Taiwan thrown in) with her band Soul Yatra which “consists of half of Soul Shakti and the rest, some young, attractive talent” Merlin, never too far from the limelight to begin with, is presently wrapping up final-minute preparations for the Celebrate Bandra Festival, on whose committee she features as the western music supervisor.
She has also composed the theme song for the Festival, a rousing Olympian effort performed by her for the first time in public on Tuesday at Seijo and the Soul Dish.
In tandem with Suzanne, Dean and Newman (all on vocals), Merlin showed us why she’s considered one of the top keyboardists and music composers around.
“I composed the tune when the committee asked me to do so last year, fusing Hindustani music with choir harmonies. As for my fellow singers, they are all sessions’ musicians and I know them for a long time now.”
And what else can we expect from this hyper-prolific musician in the coming months? “My solo album’s finally finished. Now all I have to do is find someone to get it on the road for me. And make a music video. The first track from my album is a gospel version of Vande Mataram.
As for the Hindi film industry, it’s a bit narrow as far as experimenting with music goes. But they have so much money. When I was assistant music director for ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham,’ I once had forty singers for a song.”
So what’s her ultimate ambition? “I’d like to have my brand of music named after me. ‘That Merlinesque performance,’ someone might say. I also want to watch my son grow into the musician he can be. I watched him at Malhar this time and it gave me goosebumps to see girls ooh-ing and ah-ing while he played. I’ve told him to have a blast, do what he wants…after 21, he’s kinda doomed.”