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Interview with Sudha Kheterpal

November 1, 2011
Ayesha Barretto: Sudha, you play with the legendary Sister Bliss (of Faithless). How long has that been going on for and how would you describe it?
Sudha Kheterpal: I've been playing alongside Sister Bliss for the past 13 years and it has been a journey with a family because we share experiences while on tour and we know one another inside out.

AB: So how did you land this dream job?
SK: Well, I'd been playing as a professional percussionist for about seven years and performed with different pop acts. After that I started playing with DJs in clubs and was lucky enough to play one gig with Sister Bliss. She liked my style a lot and I can still remember her saying, "If the percussionist who plays with me right now ever falls down dead, I'll call you!" (Laughs) Though the percussionist didn't die, she called but I didn't believe it. I actually thought it was a friend of mine playing a prank on me. Only when she told me about her tour dates did I believe it was true!

AB: Talking about tour dates, where all have you been while on tour?
SK: We've done about five world tours so far, so we've pretty much been everywhere!

AB: So, coming to your tour to Goa... What are you expecting?
SK: I'm expecting and personally hoping that I will be an inspiration because there are a very few female Indian drummers and percussionists. As for the show, Sister Bliss will be DJ-ing and with the new Faithless album releasing in May, she will definitely play some of the new stuff.

AB: While Sister Bliss is a legend in herself, are there any legends that inspire you?
SK: Growing up, while I was learning to play, I was inspired by the likes of Zakir Hussain and Anuradha Pal. I also played with Talvin Singh in Brazil and loved his work.

AB: Another great individual to have done India proud. Speaking of which, does India play a part in your music?
SK: Of course it does! I am so connected to my Indian roots that I even have Indian influences in my new album, ‘Anti Freeze‘.

AB: That's great! So take us back in time to when you first learnt percussions...
SK: Well there was a place across from my school where somebody used to give drum lessons. I could hear people going at that drum set almost every day and that rhythm got to me. But when I finally got a peek at that drum kit that's when I said "That is what I want to do!" I went straight home and told my parents and they were kind of shocked because it is a male dominated instrument and field of music. But they went along with it and soon I was sitting behind my first drum kit learning Afro-Cuban percussion. And there was no turning back after that!

AB: But, as a woman, was it difficult getting your foot in the door?
SK: Yes it was. I have had a lot of non belief along the way but now, after all these years, the sense of accomplishment I have is a fantastic feeling and I can't help but smile!

AB: Great! So do you have any advice for women who might want to follow in your footsteps?
SK: Yeah! Always follow your heart and believe that you can do it. That's when you'll go places.

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