With the Perth International Arts Festival just around the corner, Olivia Gardner chats to Tamil Rogeon of The Raah Project, who says that they’re pretty excited to be coming and that he reckons they’re going to “smash it”.
The Raah Project are an enchanting 16-piece Melbourne ensemble that have been forged together by the very talented men who were responsible for True Live – Ryan Ritchie and Tamil Rogeon. “It's similar in the sense, I'm the violin player and Ryan is the singer from True Live,” Rogeon says. “So we bring a lot of that but it's less sort of party and a bit more refined, I guess.”
Ritchie and Rogeon have employed their extensive musical experience and classical background to conceive the band's score, an intricate and soulful jazz and hip hop amalgamation. “We sort of explore the areas of urban music with a string section, a big band,” Rogeon explains. “We look at hip hop, some trip hop and also some drum'n'bass with a large ensemble. So in the band is a string quartet, five horns, a rhythm section, singer, piano, bass drums, and I'm also playing electronics.”
The result, as you can imagine, is a set that is at times classically breathtaking while at others brings that old-school True Live vibe that has you out of your seat and dancing all over the place. These boys are packed with so much talent from a rainbow of genres, that it's no surprise that they're working on something new outside of the popular True Live. “We just wanted something that would work. We wanted something that would be a bit more arts festival and concert hall appropriate, and we also just wanted to refine our ideas in terms of our writing and explore a large format – a large format ensemble,” Rogeon explains. “So, you know, having a large band with strings and woodwind and brass enables us to sort of write and create new ideas that we were thinking of but couldn't express with True Live.”
While watching the 16-piece group, you can expect to hear big-band orchestral scores laced with spoken word, electronic transitions and strings of languid jazz that take you unbeknownst down a dark back ally, only to greet you with hip hop beats that elevate you once again. The collection is an aural experience worth exploring, particularly if you like the idea of trip hop and hip hop making love to jazz.
The band intend to give Perth the entire big-band experience. “We're coming with seven from Melbourne and however many locally – so it's going to be a full band,” says Rogeon. “We'll be playing songs off of our previous record Score, and also some new songs off our upcoming record [which is] yet to be released.”
The Raah Project, playing the Festival Gardens for Perth Festival, have been hitting up festivals all over Australia recently, including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and MONA FOMA in Hobart. Rogeon expresses that they're both really excited to be playing the festival. “I've heard it's really cool,” he says. “I'm really looking forward to it, I can't wait; I think it's going to be awesome – looking forward to doing it in this space.”
The Raah Project will be playing the following dates:
Friday 22 & Saturday 23 February - Perth International Arts Festival, Chevron Gardens, Perth WA