The over-powering sound of the guitar in many of Vaaranam Aayiram’s songs has been the talk of the town. Here’s the man behind the guitar music
He plays the guitar with the precision of a gifted artist painting on a canvas. 15 years of playing, and his mastery over the instrument is only evident. In Chennai’s rock circle, Steeve Vatz is one of the most familiar faces. The guitar riffs from the super hit song, Adiyae Kolluthae from Vaaranam Aayiram is his. Or for that matter, most songs in recent films contain strums of his guitar. Like that isnt enough, Steeve is a regular at AR Rahman’s ensemble and tours the world with him. “When there are people who wait at Rahmans doorstep just to get a glimpse of him or hand over a CD to him, I have been extremely lucky to have just walked into his ensemble!” says Steeve, who is excited even at the mention of the maestro’s name.
How did all this happen “Its purely divine intervention,” says Steeve, who was busy teaching in his guitar academy until last year when he struck gold, “I was running Steeve Vatz Guitar Academy in Kotturpuram for over ten years and then, one fine day I decided to pack my bags and leave to Bangalore for good. Something prompted me to just drop my demo CD at Harris Jeyaraj’s studio. I didn’t receive any calls for the following three months. Just when I had lost hope, I got a call from Harris asking me to get to his studio immediately. And since then, there has been no looking back.”
His first song for Bheema, Oru Mugamo, was a powerful song with the guitar taking centre stage! With a dream debut like that, Steeve couldn’t have asked for more. Slowly, offers started pouring in and one fine day, out of the blue, he was asked to join Rahman on his stage show! Steeve recounts his first encounter with Rahman, “The first time we met was on stage during his show in Chennai last year. In the history of Rahman’s concerts, this has never happened. He always picks his musicians after listening to them many times. And what was even better was, he asked me to go solo during his concert at Sharjah. That was it! I brought out the rockstar in me and with lakhs of people cheering me, the experience was out of the world.”
Having worked with many citybased music directors including Joshua Sridhar, Vidya Sagar, etc., we ask him the inevitable question. What about Ilaiyaraja “I am probably not worthy enough to play music for him. He is the musician I respect the most and it will take me years to even consider myself eligible to work for him,” replies Steeve.
Currently working on the KV Anand directed Surya-starrer Ayan, with Harris Jeyaraj, he talks about a world tour on the anvil with Harris. This will be the first such live concert for Harris. Steeve also dreams of becoming a music director, someday.
“In the film industry, it is luck and timing that matter. If one fine day, some producer thinks that my sound is good and wants me to compose music, I will,” he says, matter-offactly .
Being one of the participants of the rock movement in Chennai, his opinion on rock music is quite surprising: “Rock might sound great. But it isn’t in our genes. It is folk and Carnatic and Ilaiyaraja genre of music that runs through our veins; that is our true identity. At the end of the day, it is Indian music that gives us our identity. That’s Steeve Vatz for you. Trendy, yet, rooted.