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Varun Carvalho

Varun Carvalho and Brian Gomes

Straight from the Heart

Maybe he’s an old soul. Or perhaps just a really good person, prostate in addition to being an exceptionally talented one.

What is special about Varun Carvalho? Well, for one he’s enjoyed a lot of success as both as a dentist and a musician. And for another, he genuinely cares about the less fortunate among us, and spends a lot of his time teaching music to disadvantaged kids.

“Each one of us is given a different talent. I have the talent to write songs and that’s what I do. I write good songs,” he says.

At 37, Carvalho’s popularity as a musician is blossoming. He recently released a new album, the deeply soulful “You Walk Alone” and lately he and his band Varun and the Two Timers are very much in demand, opening for the famed Bellamy Brothers in Mumbai.

“Music was always within me,” he says, noting that he took up violin and voice lessons as a kid.  The Irish rock band U2 has perhaps been his biggest inspiration, not just for their music but for their commitment to human rights and charitable causes.

After coming back to Goa in 2006 following stints in Mumbai, Karnataka and the UK, Varun set up his dental practice. He did very well and soon he had eight clinics around Goa and one in the UK. Running his clinics took up a lot of time and effort, and took him away from his music. This realization made him realize he needed to form a band, and thus was launched Varun and the Two Timers.

 The band’s original members were Nixon Soares, Carlos Gonsalves (see the Goa Streets story on him at http://www.goastreets.in/goas-drummer-boy-breaks-through/)  and Mukesh Ghatwal (whose composition Viva Lusofonia was chosen as theme song for the international games: http://www.goastreets.in/mukesh-ghatwal/). Varun’s first album ‘Gotta Go Home’ was symbolic of his journey back to music as well. “His strengths come from his lyrics,” says musician Brian Gomes.

Saturday-Nite-Market-audience

At the Saturday Night Market

 

The album has tracks with names like ‘You Pick Me Up,’ ‘Soul Searching,’ and ‘Turn the Tide’. The music is soulful and its lyrics simple yet deep. In his cover track ‘I Gotta Go Home,’ Varun sings “I ran, ran and ran against time, but peace of mind I didn’t find” and ends the song with “I have to find my space, the place where I belong.” The tender searching of his music has universal appeal.

“In life you have a lot of influences,” says Varun, and that’s why his music is colored with genres like Indie, Rock, Jazz and Fusion. His band opened at the International Film Festival of India in 2009, and lots of event organizers are inviting the band to perform.

Varun-Carvalho-grooving-at-the-Saturday-Nite-Market

The band members today of ‘Varun and The Two Timers’ are Victor Fernandes on guitar, Cely on the keyboard, Terrence Gomes on drums, Yatin Talaulikar on tabla and dholak and Brian Gomes on the bass.

That doesn’t mean he’s forgotten the band’s old members. “We are still in touch” and “we still collaborate sometimes,” he says.

Moving on with his current project, the band will be performing their new album in India, the UK and Canada.

‘You Walk Alone’ is about how each of us walk our own path through life. He says about his new album: “The lyrics are very soulful and catchy. There are love songs, social songs and songs that reflect each of our lives.”

His personal favorites are ‘You Walk Alone,’ and ‘I am an Indian’. “The songs have been well received by the audience,” says Varun.

The-audience-at-Saturday-Nite-Market

“Now we do a lot of dance music” he says, adding that he hopes to play at more clubs and reach out to a wider audience. The key is to adapt and ‘Varun and The Two Timers’ have been successful at that. They played at the Goa Festival in London last year, and one of his favourite places to play in Goa these days is at The Saturday Night Market.

“It’s difficult to balance between dentistry and music but if you have the passion then you can manage both,” says Varun when asked which profession he prefers. So I ask him “Do you sleep two hours a day?” he laughs and says no.

“Musicians are the pulse of society,” says Varun when talking about his ongoing work with disadvantaged kids. Varun runs a non- profit foundation, Turn the Tide (Goa Streets covered this part of Varun’s life here: http://www.goastreets.in/varun-carvalho-beyond-dentistry/).

The aim is to impart life skills through music by organizing workshops.  The youngsters, he says, “are very pure and receptive and it’s amazing to work with them.”

“Most of my music is happy,” says Varun, while at the same time acknowledging that much of it is about overcoming hard times.

 When asked about his most embarrassing moment, he recalls how one night during a performance, a girl from the crowd tripped over a mike and fell on him. For a minute he was oblivious to everything but the pain. Trying to feel his teeth, the dentist in him realized that he had chipped some of them but the musician in him moved on with a smile and he finished the performance.

“You have to go through the hard times to see the good times in life. Just be happy and listen to good music,” says Varun.