|Residence||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
|Occupation||Music composer, businessman, composer|
|Known for||blueFROGG, The True School of Music|
|Years active||90s - present|
Ashutosh Phatak is a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and entrepreneur based in Mumbai. He is one of the founding partners of live music chain blueFROG, co-founder of The True School of Music, and one of the co-founders of The Quarter. His role in creating music spaces and related eco-systems in Mumbai, and by extension, India, has catalysed the expansion of the live music scene in the country.
A highly sought-after composer in advertising and films, Phatak has composed music for over 3000 television commercials, soundtracks for over 10 feature films, and released over 15 contemporary music albums.
Early life and career beginnings
Phatak, who did his schooling at the Cathedral & John Connon School, formed an informal band with his school friends, where he handled singing responsibilities. After earning a degree in Economics with a minor in Western Classical Music Theory from the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to Mumbai and did a short stint in his family business.
Simultaneously, Phatak composed music for TV serials and commercials, and re-congregated his previous band to form Orphean Revival (1993-95).
In 1995, Phatak was responsible for one of the first original score to be created for an Indian fashion show. He composed a score for acclaimed designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, and this was again performed at the Femina Miss India contest later in the year. The band was a staple at the early years of Mumbai’s renowned music festival: Independence Rock. While Orphean Revival did the festival circuit in the city, one such encounter led Phatak to meet musician and future collaborator Dhruv Ghanekar, who was at the same event with his band, Chakraview.
Phatak and Ghanekar formed Smoke, a music production company that created music for commercials, TV serials and films. This creative partnership lead to composing the music for films like Tamanna (1998), Bombay Boys (1998), Snip! (2000), White Noise (2004), Broken Thread (2007), MP3: Mera Phela Pehla Pyaar (2007), The Whisperers (2009) and HELP (2010). As a solo composer, Phatak has also created the background scores for films such as Fire in the Blood (2013) and Zubaan (2016). Fire in the Blood premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 where it was nominated for the Grand Jury prize. Hollywood Reporter referred to Phatak’s music for the documentary as "effective and graceful music adding to the power and poignancy of the theme". Zubaan, which premiered at the Busan Film Festival in 2015, was released mid-2016. He recently completed music for Ashram, a film that is slated for a 2018 release.
Phatak has been a part of over 15 contemporary music albums. He and Ghanekar released the Smoke Signals (2008), an album that has been in the making for 8 years, and one that features the duo’s hit songs from their films. 2008 also saw the release of Phatak’s debut solo album Sigh of an Angel where he collaborated with Australian artist Aurora Jane, acclaimed jazz guitarist Sanjay Divecha, Ghanekar, drummer Lindsay D'mello and singers Vivienne Pocha and Carolisa Monteiro. Phatak handled keyboards, vocals and guitar responsibilities. This was followed by The Psychic Plumber and Other Lies (2011), a multimedia project between Phatak and popular contemporary artist Sarnath Banerjee. Inspired by the products and advertising of the 70s and 80s, this collaboration culminated in a combination of text and drawings, sound and music, to recreate life in pre-liberalisation India.
The Petri Dish Project, an ambient psychedelic rock album with an acoustic as well as an electronic vibe, saw Phatak regroup with Lindsay D'Mello, and collaborate with a host of other musicians such as Monica Dogra, Suman Sridhar, Anushka Manchanda, Saba Azad, and JD Thirumalai.
Phatak was also instrumental in the success of the award-winning album Inside my Head with Vivienne Pocha. Pocha’s debut album was a between her fantastic vocals and Phatak’s brilliant songwriting. Written and produced by Phatak, Inside my Head was completed in three weeks, and conceptually takes the listener on a tour of Pocha's life as she transforms herself from a vocalist to an artist.
Also renowned for his on-stage energy, Phatak has performed at some of India’s most popular festivals including the Mahindra Blues Festival, Sulafest, NH7 Weekender, Sunburn as well as international festivals such as South by South West (SXSW).
In 2008, Phatak and Dhruv, along with fellow partners Simran Mulchandani, Srila Chatterjee and Mahesh Mathai launched blueFROG, a live music venue in Lower Parel, Mumbai. Set in a refurbished textile mill, the arrival of blueFROG changed the Mumbai live music scene by giving budding and established musicians, a space to jam, record and perform original works across genres.
With state-of- the-art sound systems, a strategic location that was easily accessible to both South and North Mumbai residents, world-class music at a place that offered well-crafted cocktails and gourmet food, blueFROG offered uncompromising quality. Major international and national acts that performed at blueFROG included John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Pete Lockett, Angelique Kidjo, Anoushka Shankar, Richard Bona, Imogen Heap, Karsh Kale, Gilby Clarke, Infected Mushroom, Mutemath, Manu Chao, as well as Indian favourites such as Zero, Parikrama, Pentagram, Bhayanak Maut, Indus Creed and Soulmate among others.
The brand also expanded to open branches in Pune and Bangalore. The Delhi outlet shut for a few months in 2012 before reopening in a new avatar. blueFROG Mumbai shut down in August 2016.
The True School of Music
In 2013, Phatak, along with noted sound engineer Nitin Chandy and other partners from related fields, united to form The True School of Music. Since its inception, it has been India’s first multi-disciplinary, comprehensive music school that offers a range of courses. With detailed curricula crafted for students interested in learning instruments, vocals, sound design, sound production, the business of music and more, the True School has gained the reputation of being a one-stop shop in the world of music education in India.
Creating world-class courses has meant that the school has formed meaningful collaborations with acclaimed international educational institutes such as New York’s Manhattan School of Music and London’s Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM). Faculty members from these renowned have formed a part of The True School’s teaching staff.
Phatak also teaches the Music in Advertising module to students doing the professional level course.
Within a short span of time, the school has produced talented musicians and sound engineers, to cater to the industry’s growing demand for quality talent. The school espouses the cause of "music-preneurs" (a portmanteau for musician and entrepreneur), thus striving to create self-sufficient musicians through its various courses.
The True School has also curated the sixth subject curriculum for some of Mumbai’s more prestigious ICSE schools. True School: Learn to Sing
In May 2017, after two years of conceptualising and developing it, the vocal learning app True School: Learn to Sing was launched on the Google Playstore. Since then, the downloads have organically grown to over 80,000 aspirants.
The app teaches users to sing using popular songs through an intuitive curriculum where they listen to a teacher sing and repeat after them. Following this, the user is given real time
detailed feedback of their singing, thus creating an engaging environment to learn and hone one’s vocal skills.
Phatak joined acclaimed musician Ranjit Barot, businessman Nakul Toshniwal, and restaurateur Nico Goghavala to form The Quarter, nestled within the newly restored Royal
Opera House in Mumbai. The Quarter comprises four distinct venues: Dine at The Quarter, Café at The Quarter, Drink at The Quarter and Live at the Quarter. They are an al fresco restaurant, café, mozzarella and wine bar, and a 50s style art deco jazz club that function simultaneously within the Opera House premises. Phatak, along with Barot, also programmes musical experiences across the Royal Opera House and Live at The Quarter.
Since its inception in late 2017, The Quarter programming has seen Grammy winners John McLaughlin, A.R. Rahman and Tinariwen, take to the stage. The Artist in Residence programme spans two days, featuring two shows split between the grand opera house and the intimate jazz club.
As an engaging orator recognised for his work as a musician, music entrepreneur and educator, Phatak has been invited to conduct seminars and talks about the workings of the Indian music industry and his experiences with it. He has twice presented at TedX Mumbai, Music Works among others.
- Tamanna (1998)
- Bombay Boys (1998)
- Snip! (2000)
- White Noise (2004)
- Broken Thread (2007)
- MP3:Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar (2007)
- HELP (2010)
- Fire in the Blood (2013)
As sound editor:
- In Theory (2012)
- "Ashutosh Phatak". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
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