Music for centuries has been known as the common language that unites cultures. Each culture has its own unique instruments and they have their own beautiful sounds. It’s fascinating to see so many different instruments around the world and how, when they come together, we can create symphonies of sound.
Such is the beauty of the ‘Flute”. This wind instrument produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. Over the years we have seen the incorporation of the flute in many music productions and concerts around the world. This instrument is known to relax one’s body, mind and soul with its spiritual and mystical sounds.
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“If you do what you have always been doing, you will only get what you have always got, nothing more”
Such is the mantra of Vinod Moogi, a qualified Mechanical Engineer, who has travelled the world to share his music and bring about beautiful musical projects. His phenomenal skills with the flute has got him a lot of accreditation from fellow musicians worldwide and describes his music as a crossover of western, eastern, traditional, folk & fusion styles. He has been recently engaged with a lot of music projects in the state of Goa, collaborating with various cafes and artist who visit Goa.
He owes a great amount of gratitude to Dr.Len from Ohio ( USA ) for being his Mentor. A legend himself, Dr. Leon has been playing various wind instruments for the past 50 years. Vinod feels that without Mr.Richard Stoker from the U.K., he wouldn’t be where he is today. He has composed a few songs in which Vinod has played and helped in creating the videos.
Going by the name ‘FluteFreedom’, we at Goan Insider spoke to Vinod about his journey with music, both in the State of Goa as well as globally. Below are the excerpts from our interaction
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What were you doing before getting into music?
I am a Mechanical Engineer with Business management qualifications & have been working in M.N.C’s to promote their Capital equipment as Sales Director (High speed Plastic & Metal packaging machines )
How and when did you get interested in playing the flute?
I always had interest in music & art from my childhood. As I was growing up, I was exposed to western music by my Anglo Indian friend in Mysore & his brother in Bangalore, who are now settled in Australia. But my liking to play an instrument has always been flute. I used to have toy flutes in my childhood and just played them without any basic knowledge of music in early days.
Once, when I was backpacking in Varkala beach in Kerala, a Swiss lady bought a nice professional ‘G scale’ Kerala burnt look Bamboo Bansuri from an artisan for her grand daughter & asked me if it was a good buy. When I saw it, I was impressed by its look, feel & the artistically created, well tuned piece of instrument and when I played it was sounding amazing. I told the lady, even if your granddaughter does not learn to play this instrument, you can always keep it in your showcase as a piece of art. I immediately took the artisan’s contact details and contacted him to order one for myself too, and the rest is history.
That was just when I decided to quit the French M.N.C in Bangalore and take up agency business for an Italian company. However, due to the Global recession, business was dull. This got me totally stressed & depressed so the best stress buster was to learn an instrument that I am passionate about. I then decided to learn Flute online on my own with the earlier basic foundation of a few months of learning I had in Carnatic flute, and of course referring to the internet. Moreover I lived in a gated community in the outskirts of Bangalore with just few houses and no immediate neighbours. It was more like a farmhouse, so practicing late nights was not disturbing any one
That’s when I came across interesting musicians from around the world on online Forums who helped me understand the basics of flute.
What inspired the name FluteFreedom and how would you describe your music style?
Initially, I was using my own name in most videos but then I did not want my colleagues in office to know my musical journey as it would clash with my corporate profile. But then few inquisitive junior colleagues did search for me on the web to find out my videos. That is when I decided to have a separate musical name for myself, and I chose “FluteFreak”. I once played and did a photo shoot for an Indian art village in Goa. This was created for promoting International musicians and artists by an Indian diamond merchant’s son and his Slovanian wife. He is a folk singer himself . They said FluteFreak sounds junkie type, and why not make it “FluteFreedom”. And that’s how the name was born in that “Little Indian Art Village”
My music style has been a blend of Jazz, folk, Blues & bit of beat box, with a hidden Indian style of playing. Just like when we hear someone speak English, but their mother tongue is either Italians, German, French or Indian. We then say you have a hidden accent of Italian, German or Indian.
Was it easy to master the instrument? What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
No musician uses the word master, because it is a lifetime learning experience, and each time you play or practice you feel that you can do better. Once you have the interest and enthusiasm, then you do not see learning as a challenge. You go out of your way to practice and learn.
Was it easy to give up your day job to pursue music full time?
It was not easy, but the German company which I was working for closed their Mumbai office and also dissolved the packaging division globally due to organisational restructuring by a new Austrian owner, who bought our company. Now I am associated with another family owned German & Canadian company, as their Indian Sales partner & operate from home to develop their business. Working from home gives me flexible time to visit cities where live music is encouraged & promoted for International audience.
Who have been your inspirations?
Many musicians, some being Pandit Hariprasad, Ian Anderson, Marshall Tucker Band, John Mayall, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Young, John Denwer, John Lennon, CSNY, Jim Morrison and many more. The list can go on.
You have collaborated with a variety of artists around the world. Which has been the most memorable one?
Each collaboration was unique and memorable, but one was special and just like a fairy tale which I have narrated below.
One of my German friends whom I met while backpacking in Kerala, shared my “Monody of water falls” video to his Harp player friend, who got fascinated by it and wanted to meet me and work on a collaboration. So we did a video “Whisper of waves” together, recording online without meeting in person, and she loved it. Subsequently, I was supposed to visit Germany on a business trip. I shared the dates with her in advance along with my Hotel address where I was booked. She did not want to miss this opportunity of meeting me and doing a gig together.
As per the scheduled date, I checked into the hotel in Germany and to my surprise the receptionist handed me over a postal envelope, which was posted by her to me. After checking in & settling down, I opened the envelope & found a fast train first class return ticket for the weekend and a local sim. In fact, my company had organised a local trek for us on the weekend, and I began to wonder as to how I was going to cancel it. To my luck, the trek was cancelled and I was able to travel to Goppingen which was a 4 hours journey from Stuttgart in a fast train. She came to the station to pick me. She drove me by the countryside road with the Sunflower plantation all around. Even her house was in the countryside, made of wood & glass. She told me her landlord still comes on horseback to collect rent. Country of cars, where her landlord still uses his horses. It was more expensive to maintain a horse than a Car those days.
We practiced, had some Italian food, and the next day was our gig in a small studio. She asked me if I was expecting anything from the gig, to which I said no. It was a free show, my posters were made and stuck around using my Images from social media. We had a crowd of around 50 people, and the show went well. In the end they passed a Hat around saying, the flutist does not want any money, but the lady Harp player had spent some money on his ticket and for booking the studio, so your donations would help. I then noticed the hat filling up with Euros by the end of the evening .
Later, we collaborated on few more videos namely, “ Sonnet of rainbow” and “Besame Mucho” available on my YouTube channel
You have been performing both nationally in India as well as Internationally. Which countries or places have you enjoyed playing at the most?
Each show is unique in its own way and as a musician I enjoyed all of them. Audience’s response always peps a musician up. But the show in Germany was different. Normally after each song, the audience claps or cheers for you. This encourages a musician but the disadvantage of this is that music has certain silences, and during that period the audience, without knowing, thinks that the performance is over and starts clapping or cheering. This disturbs the musician in remembering his next note and also disturbs serious fellow listeners.
At my Germany gig, after each song I was expecting to hear claps or cheering but there was pin drop silence. In the beginning I started getting the feeling that we were not good or they were not enjoying our music. But when we finished and concluded the show, they all stood up and clapped non stop for 5 minutes. They were so disciplined.
Through your travels you have met a lot of different people. Were you able to infuse your experiences in your music?
Yes, discipline & professionalism helps. I did a gig with a German guitarist in one of the Cafes in Germany. He plays and takes care of setting the sound system in one of the night clubs in Germany where they have live music everyday. After the show I wanted to help him dismantle and pack the sound system, but he did not let me touch anything. He said they have been taught to assemble, disassemble and pack in Military style discipline. This is still a principle I follow with my music.
Tell us, what does a typical day in your life look like?
I do up my bed as soon as I wake up, clean the place and head for a jog or walk on the beach, followed by a few exercises. I then get myself ready and on my pc after breakfast. I work till evening, and later either go for a walk on the beach or ride in the jungle. This is because due to Covid, no gigs or socialising is possible. I then get back and practice or work on my recording and video creation.
You are a self-taught musician. With many growing courses related to music, would recommend taking them or mastering the skills on your own is enough?
Very interesting question, but here I would not answer like a parrot. Take for example in a classroom, there are 25 students. All 25 students are taught by the same teacher, and when they write an exam, one will get first the rank, another second and so on. All 25 of them will not get first rank, why ? When the same teacher taught all of them but still each one has fared differently. Here the message I want to convey is “That you are a teacher yourself, and you have taught yourself”. A teacher in the class only guides you but it is the individual’s interest & enthusiasm that makes him/her learn. Take the example of Bob Marley, all his classmates in Jamaica did not become famous musicians like him. Courses help & guide you, but creativity comes from within.
Any advice you would like to give to someone who is new and just stepping into the industry.
Whenever you want to buy a ticket for your journey, and ask for a ticket to the ticket issuer at the counter, the first question he will ask is where you want to go. You then say that I want to go where there are women, music, a lot of money and where I can get famous. Still the man at the ticket desk will ask you, sir where you want to go? Until you tell him the name of the place, he cannot issue a ticket. Same way you need to tell yourself where you want to go in life, then automatically you start seeing, organising, rejecting plans that do not work and ultimately work towards reaching there. Life will offer you a ticket to be there.
“If you do what you have always been doing, you will only get what you have always got, nothing more”
What is next for you?
Working on a few videos at present and after the Covid lock down relaxation, I shall be working on live performances too and start my own band. I am currently searching for string instrument & percussion players.
You may check some of my videos Youtube channel
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