Get to Know Fraunikus
A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon an interesting gig invitation on Facebook. It was for a performance (At Blue Frog, Pune) headlined by Mumbai based instrumental act, Fraunikus. The brain-child of Cosmic Infusion’s keyboard player Sushan Shetty.
Released in 2014, the project’s first EP, Seeking Light was Sushan’s solo project. With a Western Classical Background and Symphonic Black Metal influences the EP, with its keyboard based sound, has an epic, larger-than-life edge to it.
Eventually, Sushan brought together a set of musicians various other Mumbai based acts, to perform the EP live for the first time in April 2015 at Blue Frog, Mumbai. I speak to him to find out more about the origin of the name, the band’s existing line-up and its sonic evolution over the last two years.
I haven’t been able to find any existing explanation to the name Fraunikus, can you tell me how you came up with the name?
Fraunikus is a name of a character that appeared in a dream I had 10 to 12 years ago. It was a very vivid dream where Fraunikus, a weapon bearing warrior is on a quest of sorts. I was supposed to use the character as a theme for Cosmic Infusion. Two years ago I started my own solo project and released an EP called Seeking Light which was a portrayal of Fraunikus’ personal struggle that gave birth to the character I dreamt up. It is an image of all that he goes through on the way.
Each song on the EP is a depiction of Fraunikus’ personal journey, his thoughts and experiences. At the end of Seeking Light, he is still to become the character that he was in the dream.
Since it’s an instrumental project, the themes behind the tracks are out there and it’s up to listeners to take away whatever they want from it.
So I’m guessing whatever is up next are the following stages of discovery?
Probably, yes. It will represent the thoughts that he has, the things he is yet to experiences. So it could be long journey.
Writing for me is different. I don’t pick up an instrument and start writing riffs, then layering the music around it. I always take up an instrument with an image of what I want to create ready in my head.
So how long did it take for you to complete Seeking Light?
Well, recording was done in ten days. The songs weren’t rehearsed and ready before I began, I wrote the songs as I went along. Since I had never mixed or mastered an album before, and had time on my hands, I wanted to do this on my own. So the post production took me a month, but the writing and recording was done in ten days.
Let’s talk about the EP’s sound. I can totally imagine this as a soundtrack of an epic film. You also mentioned shoegazing as a part of your influences. (If you want to hear what a shoegaze band sounds like try out Yuck)
So what we’ve done here is bring in the shoegazing style of writing. Imagine you’re looking down at your shoes and there’s a force field pushing you back. That’s what shoegaze music makes you feel like. So, shoegazing would have a lot of delay modulated guitar riffs with continuous strumming. We removed the delay effect keeping in the continuous strumming bit.
You released the Seeking Light two years ago in 2014 as a solo effort. How did the band come together after that?
On the first track, Purity, I had Shrikant Sreenivasan (Coshish) play the guitar. I did not know Shrikant back then, and when I had seen him play live with Coshish and I knew that I had to get him on board to play a solo. It was quite easy, collaborating with him. I sent him the track, and gave him an idea of what I wanted it to sound like. In two days, he sent me the solo. It was never edited. I added it in, mixed it and the song was ready.
I got some time out from playing with Cosmic Infusion as we weren’t doing many shows. That’s when I put the band together. Shrikant was the obvious choice for guitars. He got Anish Nair (Bass—Coshish) and Sujit Chavan (Drums—Kashmeer & Eternal December) to join in for a jam which worked out pretty very well.
Few other bands use two keyboards on stage. Here, I had a clear perspective of the sound I wanted live, so we got Samman Banerjee on board. He’s a fantastic keyboard player and I look up to him. With two keyboards, it’s like a mini orchestra happening on stage.
How different is Samman’s style compared to yours?
I am more of a western classical oriented player. Samman on the other hand has drawn influence from a lot of jazz players. He also plays a lot of blues and Bollywood. So his style of playing and way of looking at the instrument is very different from mine.
How did Samman, Shrikant and Anish change the live keyboard sound when they came in?
We didn’t do much on top of what was already recorded. So the keyboards are pretty much the same.
Shrikant has done a lot to the guitar work that isn’t there on the EP. Along with Anish’s bass playing, it’s made the live sound a lot bigger, and fuller than what you hear on the EP. The two of them are quite experienced, so they knew just what to do with the songs. The both of them are pretty easy to work with. I just need to put an idea out and they do the rest.
I watched a video of you guys jamming, Sujit has some pretty tight chops. The track’s sound is very different from your current sound.
Yes, Sujit’s is young player, but he’s quite tight and technically sound. The song you heard is in an odd time signature that will be among future releases. The sound is more on the progressive rock side.
After a long time working with the same style, you realize that you get restricted. There aren’t any restrictions as such with Fraunikus.
So, tell me about the response to the EP and at gigs?
The response to it was quite fantastic. It was received well not only across India, but across the globe. It got covered on a podcast with a Spanish magazine, Subterranea. I didn’t promote the album at all, I put it out and some friends shared it. It did some sale in the US and some good sales in Europe too.
With the band, we played just the one gig at Blue Frog, Mumbai. The crowd at the gig was a bit silent while we were playing. But we got a good amount of applause after each song.
So we’ve got to work on getting more live action. So the idea now is to play more shows to get the attention. We definitely need that.
Can you tell me about what’s in store for the gig on the 27th of April?
Apart from the songs on the EP, we will be performing two new songs. Both of them have a completely different sound from the first five. One of the songs as I mentioned has a prog-rock sound. The other is a mix of depressive and dance music, at least that’s what it sound like in my head.
That’s an uncommon combination. (We both laugh)
So is there a new album in the pipes?
No clue really. We have two songs completed. I keep writing, so I think we’ve got stuff for another three albums. We just need to bring it to the jam room and write it properly together.
We’re not really pushing for a new album, for us playing live is at a higher priority than an album right now.
That’s awesome, we look forward to hearing about more shows then. All the best!
Yes absolutely. Thanks a lot man!
Don’t miss their next gig, they play live at Blue Frog Pune on the 27th of April.
Anish Nair – Bass
Samman Banerjee – Keyboards
Shrikant Sreenivasan – Guitars
Sujit Chavan – Drums & Percussions
Sushan Shetty – Keyboards
Check out these clips from the band’s first gig:
You can follow Fraunikus on Facebook
Check out the opening track on Seeking Light, Purity
Support the music, buy the EP Seeking Light on Amazon
Photo credits: Dhawal Kadam