Baiju Dharmajan is an Indian guitarist, music composer, producer and guitar teacher based out of Kochi, Kerala. A celebrated musician in his own country, Baiju had an extended stint during the 2000s as the lead guitarist of the Indian rock band Motherjane. Nicknamed as the "God of Small Strings" by his fans, Baiju has been particularly noted for his winding, carnatic-inspired & enduring guitar solos. Baiju Dharmajan along with R Prasanna are one of the two popular Carnatic guitar exponents in India.
Born in Vypin Islands (near Cochin, India) to Thankamani and Dharmajan, Baiju started his musical career at the age of 14. He began with carnatic violin but then slowly shifted to guitar. His father used to play the Hawaiian guitar and his grandfather was a Carnatic musician. He used to play the guitar in a travelling troop of musicians from an early age and has even played with the legendary Malayalam singer Yesudas.
After relocating to his hometown in Vypin in the 90's, he started playing a band called Instinct, followed by short stints with the bands Wrenz and Aatma. During one of the practice sessions of the band Aatma, he met John of Motherjane, who then invited him to audition for the lead guitarist position for the band.
Baiju is also a big fan of Illayaraja and loves the compositions of other Indian composers like Raveendran, Devarajan, Noushad and R.D. Burman. His father had a vast collection of Ghazals by Mehdi Hassan, Anup Jalota, and Pankaj Udhas. He grew up with all these Malayalam,Tamil and Hindi film music.
He considers music has to be journey. According to him he never struggled to make it out, he just dedicated himself for the sake of music. His favorite guitarists include Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, Mattias Ekhlund, Guthrie Govan.
Baiju was the lead guitarist for Motherjane 1999 through 2010, during which the band released two full length albums - 'Insane Biography' in 2003 and 'Maktub' in 2008. The band was a popular live act in India in the 2000s and played at many festivals. Baiju has credited the song 'Broken' from the album Maktub that changed his musical direction from conventional rock/metal style of guitar playing to one with carnatic overtones in it. The other songs on the album Maktub too are audibly influenced by carnatic elements. Besides Mindstreet, Fields of sound these Motherjane songs firmly describe Baiju's tonality.
Collaborations and Solo Projects
Since 2010, Baiju has been working on collaborations and solo projects. He released his debut solo album titled 'The Crossover' in 2012 under the record label Cochym, supporting which he traveled with his band 'Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate' to various festivals in India. Baiju's also contributed towards producing an EP for Kochi based band 'Kaav'. He's released Indian rock versions of patriotic songs Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, Vande Mataram and the national anthem Jana Gana Mana.
Baiju's been a part of 'Kashmir' with Sanjeev Thomas, 'Karnatrix' with John Antony and Bluefire with classical violinist Harikumar Sivan. Baiju also co-created “Sacred Science” for the popular TV Series The Dewarists with percussionist cum composer Karsh Kale and edakka drum teacher Harigovindan. Other collaborations include Sanjay Maroo, Naresh Iyer, Keith Peters, Ustad Asad Khan, Uday Jose, David Joseph, Midival Punditz and Susmit Sen. Int the year of 2013 he accompanied none other than British shred-king Andy James for a workshop in Kolkata.
Baiju was thrice voted as the best guitarist at the Jack Daniel's Rock Awards . The latest being in the year 2013-2014.
- Insane Biography with Motherjane - 2003
- Maktub with Motherjane - 2008
- By the Moonlight - Wrenz United - 2011
- The Crossover - Baiju Dharmajan solo - 2012
- Jana Gana Mana - Baiju Dharmajan - 2011
- Vande Mataram - Baiju Dharmajan - 2011
- Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Baiju Dharmajan - 2013
- Vaishnava Janato - Baiju Dharmajan - 2013
- Kaav E.P - KAAV - 2010
- "Baiju Dharmajan | Carnatic Guitar Maestro | Indian Guitarist". 2013.
- "Motherjane-Rolling Stones". Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- "BaijuDharmajan-The Crossover". Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- "motherjane | Rolling Stone India". Rolling Stone India. 2013.
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- "Baiju JD Awards"[dead link]
- Interview[dead link]
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- "10 Best Indian Albums of 2008". Rolling Stone India. January 19, 2009.
- "Motherjane: An Indian Tale". Rolling Stone India. July 25, 2009.
- "Mother Jane enthrals Sunday crowd". The Hindu. October 8, 2007.
- "Motherjane Guitarist Baiju Dharmajan Quits Band". NH7. November 24, 2010.
- "Not Megadeth enough". The Hindu. March 23, 2008.
- "Schedule for Saarang, IIT’s mega fest". The Hindu. January 18, 2009.
- "Pune rock gets into the studio". The Times of India. January 7, 2003.
- http://www.deccanchronicle.com/tabloid/glam-sham/guitar-juggler-591[dead link]
- "Listen to the Dewarists". The Times of India. November 22, 2011.
- "Interview With Baiju Dharmajan(The God Of Small Strings)". Indian Music Revolution. 24 March 2012.