Kolkata, India's Debashish Bhattacharya started learning Indian music from his parents before he learned the alphabet. In his childhood he mastered many Indian classical instrumental styles as well as vocal music from different musical teachers in Calcutta. He became a disciple and student of Brij Bhushan Khabra, the father of Indian classical guitar, for 10 years, and also trained under Ajoy Chakraborty, the eminent Indian vocalist. He has also studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
As a performer, Debashish gave his first guitar recital at the age of four on the All India Radio, and in a public concert. In his twenties, he evolved a unique style of playing guitar, synthesizing selected features of various other instruments such as the Veena, Sitar, Sarod and Sarangi. He has given to the world a new schooling of Guitar...Kolkata Gharana.
Debashish developed his innovative Hindustani slide guitars after years of research and experience. It consists of three self designed and patented guitars named as Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi. Debashish plays these guitars while sitting cross legged, with the guitar held on the lap and played with a small steel bar, metal picks and a celluloid thumb pick.
Debashish is one of the greatest slide guitarists of the world who has contributed to the guitar world a new standard and style of playing the guitar. Over more than 30 years he has cut a niche in the world of music.
He has been featured in bill-board top 10, Song Line Magazine top 10, Central Asia and Asia pacific world music top 10, Amazon top 100 albums, National Geography and world's who's who enlisted artiste. 2009 Grammy Nominee, 2007 BBC Planet Award, 2005 Asiatic society Gold medal, 1984 President of India Gold Medal, worth mentioning.
He has received numerous aficionados, his compositions, his music, and his philosophy of teaching has changed the life of many. His has also given to the world of music, the actual design of the instrument, and through his incredible talent and discipline, elevated the Hindustani slide guitar to be the highest evolution of slide guitar anywhere. To develop his playing, he has undergone decades of disciplined study of Indian vocal technique combined with his instrumental work. Debashish can sing perfectly in parallel with every blindingly fast melody he plays. Possessed of a very open musical mind, Debashish is eager and more than qualified to collaborate and truly blend with musicians from any other country.
As a humble student of Indian Music (Hindustani) he has redefined Indian Classical Music on Slide Guitar. More than 3000 concerts all around the world, having trained over 1000 students, he has designed 19 guitars and out of his 15 albums, 3 have been internationally awarded. He has played with Ustad Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin, Jerry Douglas, Dereck Trucks and many other world renowned musicians. Back in India, he has played for Pandit Ravi Shankar. He has extensively performed and performing in many Indian music festivals.
What do you remember about your first guitar?
My first guitar was a six string solid neck lapsteel made by Gibtone guitar of Kolkata 1966.
Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?
First record I bought is Ravi Shankar Ali Akbar Sitar sarod duet.1984. Was in a cassette .
Last record I bought was in vynil Beyond the Ragasphere of mine.
What do you expect from music?
Humanity, peace, joy, initiation of social bond creativity and much more- eternal faith.
Which work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?
Calcutta chronicles and Beyond the Ragasphere
Calcutta chronicles was a vision naturally grown over the years of my experience with the guitar music I've learnt and heard in kolkata- as a British colony and before Muslim emperor and even before the music of Vaishnav movement 580 years from Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu - I had the musical vision but didn't thought about downloading the music through my three guitars- then it happened all at a sudden- I'm surprised and glad it was accepted by the music world.
And Beyond the Ragasphere was the first indian slide guitar fusion album in the history- covering the widest range of jazz blues, blue grass, indian classical , samba flamenco. It was really challenging as well intersting- cause they are 100% my own composition and back up instrumentation and back up chords etc I have never done before myself- the whole making was full of surprise, studio to scoresheet, real time recording with my contemporary guitar wizards living else where. This is unique and surprising they worked very well 4.5 star reviews Womex award all surprising !!
What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?
Technique gives lead in music. Technical superiority gives cutting edge to your musical delivery.
Debashish Bhattacharya, John Mclaughlin , Zakir Hussain, Selva Ganesh in Remember Shakti Concert
What is your relationship with the musical traditions of your country?
I come from a zen family of seven generation of indian raga music.
What’s the difference between a good instrument and a bad one?
Bad one sucks. A good instrument is like the best one in your life who feels happy in your presence and you feel the same way.
What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?
Digitization is saving musical sounds from analog perishable devices, as well easy to access.
But problem is the business. Corporations have no choice of education to deal with music or artiste. Any next generation sophisticated utility - if used to multiple corporate money it SUCKS.
It actually kills the art and artiste community, history, it kills challenge; it kills the environment of art to grow.
Digitization didn't help the music and art in that respect. It has killed taste.
Define the sound you're still looking for.
Doesn't attack you, rather attract you.
Doesn't agitate you, but complete your desire.
How would you define music?
Highest form of practice of "Art of living" which shows the path of divinity.
What special or extrange techniques do you use?
A lot. Those unique techniques are called "Debashish Bhattacharya" App
What's your best musical experience?
Sitting with my Guru playing along with him or following him whether my Dad or other Gurus- after a while I couldn't follow any more- either beyond capacity or felt listening is a better choice..
What’s your craziest project about?
Trinity of guitar creation.
Dream about your perfect instrument
Dream came true.
Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi.
Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?
Singing of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali khan and my father...
What do you recall about your playing learning process?
It's always listen and play following note to note.
What is your relationship with other disciplines such as painting, literature, dance, theater ...?
I'm a painter, I'm a thorough reader of Rabindranath Tagore, Shelly, Kits and other great writer of Bengal .
Where are your roots? What are your secret influences?
Fighting against odd. Logic is my Guru.
Opposite attracts. Secret is secret...
What would you enjoy most in an art work?
More intricate &more expressive &more living.
If you could, what would you say to yourself 30 years ago, about your musical career?
I was adventurer, still I'm... I didn't see myself here in future; where I'm today.
What quality do you most empatize with in a musician?
Humility, honesty and obedience to your Guru's thoughts, if you valued once. Stick to it... Till you die.
Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?
Ray Charles -dead
John McLaughlin -living
John McLaughlin, Debashish Bhattacharya, Hadrien Feraud, Louis Banks, Ranjit Barot, Sivamani, George Brooks, Shashank, Shankar Mahadevan, U Rajesh, Naveen Kumar, Niladri Kumar
What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?
Don't spend much in any other than in music.
Listen to what I say but check before believing.
When you see you are alone- you are successful in your true endeavor.
What instruments and tools do you use?
Slide bar by John Pearse and Ian McWee
Strings b John Pearse only
Wire cutter by hush
String swipe by John Pearse
Guitar by Trideb International Guitar Co.
iPhone Tanpura app
Quartz Egg slide.
Gibson Super 400 C
Neumann km 184 mic
Appo G duet interface some finest guitar cable and Larry Fishman made pickup.
What do you like the most about being a musician?
Don't need to see the newspaper television news Chanel .
What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?
Indian music combining different ethnic cultures of the world. Right now I'm working in the India International Guitar festival (Vasundhara Mahotsav), the first guitar festival dedicated to slide guitar in south asia. Upcoming festival is due on January 6-10th 2016 in Kolkata.
1980 Call Of The Desert (A Symphony in Indian Classical Music)
Pt. Brij Bhushan Kabra, Debashish Bhattacharya
1992 Ahir Bhairav & Bhairavi
1992 Young Masters: Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya
Living Media India / Music Today
1996 Calcutta to California
1997 Raga Bhimpalasi
1998 & Bob Brozman - Sunrise
1998 Rainbow: Colors of Seven Indian Classical Instruments
Allyn Miner, Kala Ramnath, Tarun Bhattacharya, Snehasis Muzumdar,
Debashish Bhattacharya, Daya Shankar & Arawind Thatte
2000 Remember Shakti
John Mclaughlin, Zakir Hussain,U. Sriniwas,
Selvaganesh, Debashish, Shiva Mani and others.
2000 Hindustani Slide Guitar
2000 Reflection of Love
2003 & Bob Brozman - Mahima
2004 Season of Life
2004 The Melting Pot Overfloweth
2004 Till Death Do Us Part
2004 Love's Dawn
2005 Calcutta Slide-Guitar, Vol. 3
2007 Raga Pahadi Jhinjhoti
2008 Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar
World Music Network / Riverboat
2008 John McLaughlin – Floating Point
2009 O Shakuntala!
World Music Network / Riverboat
2013 Live in Calcutta
2013 Madeira: If Music Could Intoxicate
Debashish Bhattacharya / Tridev Music India
2013 Beyond the Ragasphere
2015 Slide Guitar Ragas from Dusk Till Dawn