Indie Rhythms by Ginger Chai hopes to explore the Indie music scene across India by bringing you information on existing as well as upcoming Indie bands across the nation. Their music, previous albums, upcoming albums, events, and if we are super lucky; we hope to bring you interviews with the respective bands. Hopefully, after this, you start rendering your ears to their compositions. Only then will Ginger Chai be able to consider this attempt a success. Welcome onboard and let the rhythm take over.
First to be featured in this series is Half Step Down (HSD) from New Delhi. Formed in 2005, HSD is made up of Dhaval Mudgal on Vocals, Karan Dutta aka KD on Guitar/Backing Vocals, Shiv Lumba on Piano/Organ, Carl Abraham on Bass and Srijan Mahajan with Drums. Refusing to be confined to any particular genre, they instead prefer to refer to their music as encompassing a whole myriad of elements from across the musical platform. Or in the words of HSD, “versatile mish mash” is what they aim to offer.
From a regular college band HSD went on to perform in the Great Indian Rock Show in 2007. Amongst the many head banging performances, they certainly put up a front which eventually paved the way to their debut album Overtures in Outerspace late last year.
From their humble beginnings, Dhaval, the voice of HSD shares with us HSD’s journey thus far and from here on… in a conversation with GingerChai’s Usha Amudan.
Usha: When HSD was first formed in 2005, what were you guys working towards to?
HSD: When we formed the band in 2005, we had decided to take our interest in music to a more serious level from the college band. We didn’t know what exactly we were working towards but we knew we wanted to make music.
Usha: How has that changed in the last 5 years?
HSD: Well, the desire to create music still remains strong. Only now it comes with the need to create challenges and stimulate ourselves while doing so.
Usha: How does a regular creative session go?
HSD: Creative sessions can go in various directions. Sometimes, the guitarist will play something and everybody starts playing along, sometimes the piano player arrives with a grand arrangement, sometimes I have a basic idea which we all expand on collectively.
Usha: HSD is made up of members who hold regulars job besides playing for the band. How do you guys manage?
HSD: Well, two of the guys have regular jobs. Our drummer, piano player and I are doing this full time. It is tough coordinating time schedules, leave applications etc. But as this countercultural movement grows, it becomes more of an acceptable full time profession. We hope that eventually we will all be able to do this full time.
Usha: What keeps the spirit high among HSD?
HSD: The help of various spirits is employed to keep spirits high in HSD!!! Apart from that, we guys are great friends so we enjoy each other’s company and tomfoolery!
Usha: How different is HSD from the rest of the Indie Bands in India?
HSD: Well, the idea has always been to be honest to making music that’s fun, which pleases us and audiences at some level. We have always tried to not take ourselves too seriously and that seems to filter through on stage as well.
Usha: In the website, HSD has been described to have drawn influences from Led Zepplin, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and others. Name a domestic band that HSD can relate to.
HSD: There’s so many bands here that we can relate to and admire- Thermal and a Quarter for their awesome lyrics and songwriting, Indian Ocean– for sticking to their guns right from the outset and creating a sound that is theirs completely. As for younger bands, there are the Them Clones, Advaita and Joint Family.
Usha: Audience reception to Overtures in Outerspace?
HSD: The album ‘ Overtures in Outerspace’, has been received really well by fans, audiences, musicians and critics alike! As an independent release we have had some distribution issues, but now it is available worldwide on www.underscorerecords.com
Usha: Future Albums?
HSD: There are plans aplenty but it will take some time as our guitarist is moving out of the country and the search for a new one is on. We want to create many albums over the years and we will. There will be a focus on better production and recording in the upcoming albums.
Usha: Define HSD in less than ten words for people who might not have heard of HSD.
HSD: www.halfstepdownmusic.com. Figure it out!!!
Now that we have heard from the man himself, what about the album?
Overtures in Outerspace was released early August 2009. A couple of the album’s tracks can be compared to the likes of Incubus with its Morning View album. The guitar pieces for most of the tracks add to its listening value. Other tracks like Knocking at the Back of My Head, Circles and my personal favorite Girl Not Guitar are worth listening to. As for the lyrics, there ain’t any one theme that the album adheres to. Definitely nothing to do with Outerspace! But, more to do with the world inhibited by us, humanity.
Guaranteed accompaniment for any music aficionado with their evening Gingerchai.
You can purchase their debut album, Overtures in Outerspace from www.underscorerecords.com. If you wanna consider the tracks before investing your cash, some of the tracks are available at www.last.fm and at http://www.myspace.com/halfstepdownmusic.
Thank You for Tuning In!
Note: Images courtesy of Half Step Down.