When Kerala meets Spain

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He’s all of 26, but Varun Sunil has already explored the universe of music, quite a bit. A composer and percussionist who globe-trots with renowned artists for stage performances, he also has his share of music albums, ad jingles and documentaries. At present, the youngster is part of a pro-women play sponsored by Unesco titled The Killing of Dushasana, blending Flamenco music with Kathakali. The play is scheduled to be staged across 26 cities in India, starting September, and Varun will collaborate with Spanish artists for the programme.
“This project came along after the show’s director, Cesar, a guitarist from Spain, saw my videos on Youtube and contacted me. The play is based on the concept Red Light to Violence against Women Harassment, and I will be handling multiple percussion instruments in it. Post the India tour, we might stage it in Spain too,” says Varun, who had an inclination towards playing percussion instruments right from childhood. Though backed by a musical lineage, Varun’s folks preferred him prioritising conventional education over music. However, the young music buff can’t resist the constant urge to surrender it all to music and has succeeded over time.
Varun studied audio engineering, post which he moved to Chennai in pursuit of work. “It was while at Chennai that I started to perform on various stages across the world. I also started producing advertising jingles and background music for corporate films and documentaries for a lot of brands based in South India,” he says. It was during this period that Sleeba Varghese, a Kochi-based ad filmmaker, introduced him to Stephen Devassy. Then on, Varun got noticed on bigger platforms and he began getting opportunities to play percussion for music composers like Johnson, Rajamani, M. Jayachandran, among others. Later he shifted his base to Mumbai, where he composed music for MTV shows, following which he began getting offers for composing jingles for many popular brands like Cadbury Silk and Britannia.
As of now, Varun is planning two unique projects — a percussion album with Motherjane and another solo album. “The percussion album would probably be the first of its kind in Kerala and I am planning a national release in October,” says Varun. He has performed alongside the likes of Ustad Fazal Qureshi, Hariharan, Sridhar Parthasarathy, Ranjit Barot, Taufiq Qureshi, Rizwan and Mauzam Fateh Ali Khan, Sabir Khan, Anders Hagberg from Sweden and the Grammy Award winner Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram.

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