She calls herself 'The Snake Charmer' but her skill with the bagpipe can charm more than just snakes. Archy Jay is the first Bagpipe artist of the country. Although there are many others who play bagpipes, most of them are part of bands. But how many times have you heard someone cover a rock song on bagpipes? It is not just a rarity in India, it is unique and only to her.
Although her videos are brilliant, her story and her struggles also deserve to be told. So, here goes...
Being a vocalist with a band, Archy earlier charmed audiences with her voice. But then, she came across a foreign band using bagpipes in their songs and it mesmerized her.
She soon found out that there is no proper bagpipe teacher in India. And also, the fact that bagpipes are one of the toughest instruments in the world to play.
But her vision remained solid. She wanted to know how bagpipes would sound in a normal song and not just in parade bands.
So she decided to soldier on and started learning on her own. She knew how to read music so she downloaded e-books from the Internet to learn how to play.
"When you really wanna do something, when you're the only hope and you are your only teacher, what do you do? You have no option but to go on."
She admits that she did have the occasional breakdown and there were several instances when she considered quitting. But she didn't; her spirit remained resolute.
Such was her determination that she started e-mailing veteran bagpipers to help her out. This went in vain for a while until one man from the US, Sean Folson, replied. He eventually became her guide.
Just like anything else that's new, she had to start at the bottom. She began learning on a 'practice chanter'.A practice chanter is an instrument used to learn how to play the bagpipes.
Once that was done, there was another challenge in front of her. She had to choose the correct bagpipe for herself and that is when she found out that there are more than 100 varieties of bagpipes available.
Stuff like temperature also has to be taken into account before buying a bagpipe.
After months of thinking, she picked one and went to Scotland for a 5-day tuition in Glasgow to brush up her skills.
Once she was back, she wanted to see to what extent a bagpipe could be utilised and also how far and wide it could go in different music forms & genres.
The inspiration behind her stage name stems from the fact that she does not want to forget her Indian roots. Foreigners often assume that India is a land full of snake charmers so she wanted to show them that if that's how we're going to be typecast, this is how well we can do the charming.