From New Delhi, we decided to head to West Bengal, Kolkata to have a chat over a cup of Gingerchai with the upcoming band, Camouflage. Formed in 2005, the ultimate standing Camouflage is made up of Neel (Vocals), Roy (Guitars), Rana (Bass) and Jeet (Drums). They have participated in several leading Music Competitions and are a well known name in the Kolkata Music Scene. We managed to catch up with them while they were working on their debut album.
Camouflage shares with us about Camouflage…
Usha: Are all of you guys from Kolkata? How was Camouflage formed?
Camouflage: Yes, all of us are from Cal born and brought up except our drummer who grew up in Bhutan and then shifted to Cal during his teens. Camouflage was initially formed by 3 school friends (some of whom are former members now) namely Roy, Avy & Sou in early 2005. These guys were also playing for another band at that time. So, once Jeet came on board as a drummer; introduced to the trio by a mutual friend, then everything fell into place and thus Camouflage was formed.
Usha: Why the name ‘CAMOUFLAGE’? Ever went under a different name?
Camouflage: To be honest when we were starting up this set up we used to have regular debates on a series of issues. ‘CAMOUFLAGE’ was a winner of one such debate competition -hence, the naming of the band. On the hindsight, it basically follows that same psychology of parents contemplating upon what name they would give to their new born child. Back then we were the parents who had a new born child to be given a name.
As it often happens in this scenario you look over here and there for ideas, go through the net search book to you make sure that if a certain name that has cropped up in your mind that you don’t have that same name for any other band at least in India to avoid confusion. So, accordingly a lot of names and themes were doing the rounds but the instant one of us suggested “CAMOUFLAGE” we all knew that has to be it, because it was thematically felt very appropriate. It very much reflected our attitude towards the band also. Back then most of us were students or part time job doers, some engineering students or BPO workers, some seeking management studies yet all were eager to form this set up. We were CAMOUFLAGED to be musicians.
But five years down the line we are CAMOUFLAGE, with the only difference being in the fact that some how now we have to disguise ourselves when we try our hands on something else. So, if we look back in a way we didn’t name our band rather, CAMOUFLAGE earned it.
To answer the second part of your question all we have to say is that we never felt the need to play with any other name as mentioned earlier also as it represented a part of us. It’s about being who you are, and if you try and change that you lose your identity that’s what we feel. And also name change doesn’t change the fortune it’s your honesty towards the craft that will suffice at the end of the day. So, if you believe in something then stick with it that’s our philosophy.
Usha: Is there a lead vocalist? Or vocals take turns?
Camouflage: Neel is our lead vocalist but at times very rarely Roy also takes turns. But Neel takes most of the responsibility. While others in the group do follow it up with strong chorus/harmony lines.
Usha: Describe a regular creative/music -making process?
Camouflage: To describe that in keypad and mouse its little difficult but still we are trying.
We generally sit down together and jam, more often on a hook or a theme and take turns to describe and underline it on our respective instruments. For an example-if Roy comes up with a hook on the guitar then we all try and compliment the hook, taking the mood and theme of the hook into consideration we jam on that for sometime and then stop to question each other on why’s and how’s of it. We try and look at it from every possible direction where this hook can lead us to. Once we all are convinced for the session that we have worked out the best possible option presently available, we call it a day. The next rehearsal we again try to spontaneously react to the hook without trying to imitate what we had earlier decided upon to be the best option. In this way we take all the positives from all the sessions and then try to weave them together around the basic hook from which we started out. We take the call only when we are saturated for options for a particular song. Saturation can set in -in a week, a month or even sometimes 2 yrs. But we make sure that we are well convinced and saturated collectively. But there have been exceptions also where we have changed arrangements even after performing as well. So for such tracks we have two parallel arrangements that we do in live gigs depending on our n audience’s mood.
So, you see it is easier for us to describe with drums n guitar rather than keypad and mouse.
Usha: Has a random jam session made way for a new song?
Camouflage: Generally speaking we would say, most of our jam sessions are random but we mostly have a pre-planned hook, to which we randomly react. But there have been instances also when we randomly jammed together and came up with a hook-line or a riff which after further dissection ended up into a main hook or riff of a song. But most of our songs are born from a random jam session rather than a random reaction to a planned hook or a theme.
Usha: How has your compositions evolved since 2005?
Camouflage: Our music is an expression of what we are and it talks about our life and the experiences that we have shared all this while. So, as we have grown 5 years older our thought process and the general perception of looking at things has also evolved which definitely contributed to the ideas in song writing along with its dynamic nature of the evolving style in general. You only get better as you write more but sometimes stagnation of thought process also creep in. Initially when you start you have certain ideas on which you would want to write but after a certain point you find that although a certain music demands a certain style of song writing but you just cannot get it right & avoiding to be repetitive so the challenge of song writing becomes more and one has to evolve as a writer to write on a different aspect of the same subject to get out of the writer’s bout mode. Today, if we have say anything about our songs we would say that let the audience decide on what perception that he/she would want to have for a certain song. As we believe that once we have played a certain song to an audience it transcends and lingers different kind nuances of emotion to each individual on the same subject. But theoretically if you ask then we would say that the compositions have become more abstract (having mixture of ideas and thoughts, sometimes social and emotion based). There’s no winning formula to this on why a particular song catches the imagination of the audience as sometimes you feel that the other would work and it doesn’t. So in a nut shell it can be said that the right emotion has to be reciprocated through the right words balancing it out with the mood and the ambience of the music or vice versa.
Over the years we have also changed and altered some of our old compositions as we felt with time and experience that we could give it a better texture to the whole thing.
Musically we have tried to be more aware and learn all these years which also reflect in our newer OC’S. But above all it is our approach towards life and our experiences together and individually which has evolved and matured leading to different type’s compositions on varied subjects. This is bound to happen to any creative group who are around for a while.
Usha: To quote from your MYSPACE site, it reads “most of their songs are inspired by their own wrong doings. Camouflage is a mix of the good, bad and the ugly emotions that’s imbibed in their music as well.” So your compositions are hardly imaginary but a reflection of our respective lives, in what way?
Camouflage: Yes, you are absolutely correct. Our compositions are hardly imaginary as you have rightly pointed out. With the hardest part being able to perceive and keep alive an optimistic imagination of our respective CAMOUFLAGED lives that we live in a way. We believe that our imaginations are the reflections of our good, bad and the ugly emotions of our respective lives and hence it’s mostly inspired by our wrong doings. You can only imagine something good when you face the crisis in reality.
“Imagine all the people, living life in peace”-John Lennon
So, you see that you can only be an optimist and imagine when you know that all the people are not leaving their lives in peace. That’s why our compositions are so realistic in a way with an optimistic end. Our imagination starts from the morning cup of tea and runs throughout the day till the last insomniac try to sleep over an ugly emotion of a broken relationship.
Usha: Where have you guys performed so far?
Camouflage: Actually apart from the local circuit with usual pub and college fest gigs, we have traveled across India and have performed in places like Pune, Benaras, Bhubaneswar etc. and also had our fair share participating in All India rock competitions like IRock, CRI etc. during our college days where we managed to reach the finals and won at the IIT-KGP and the IIMC fest rock competitions as well.
Usha: How does it feel to be onstage performing?
Camouflage: NOT CAMOUFLAGED!! The best feeling while performing as a group on stage is that is where we are 100% true to our character. And the best part is that we get to know instantly if people do like our music or not. And those live spontaneous reactions don’t lie. Every performance is very important for us and it’s like a dream trip or a joy ride always memorable and to be cherished forever. It is a fun ride where your best pals are also taking part playing some gorgeous licks and you nod in appreciation or otherwise make a face at him for goofing up and he immediately tries to cover that up.
Usha: Major Influences in your music?
Camouflage: Our major influences are quite diverse due to our early education and backgrounds in music as individuals. But having said we do have common likings from a lot of artists from whom we derive inspiration from. This is so because like for example our drummer has an extensive background in Latin music and percussions and similarly other members have lineage with other basic forms of music as well. We generally like artistes who are innovative in their thinking in terms of songwriting and consider music in totality (including the total ambience relating to the content) rather than individuality; as we believe that you can make good music with minimalistic playing too and the rest of the onus can be carried out by the power of song writing ideas, which should have a thought provoking or emotional subtext to it.
However this is a never ending process which might lead to another debate within the band arising out of the exhaustive collection of the individual preferences of artist catalogue.
However, some of them are-Coldplay,U2,Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Maroon 5,Radiohead,Oasis,John Mayer etc…
Usha: Name a current song that is on replay mode in each of your ipods?
Camouflage: Nil – Breakeven (The Script), Roy – Low Rising (The Swell Season), Rana – Videotape (Radiohead), Jeet – 42 (Coldplay), Sam (production and sound engineer) – Starlight (Muse)
Usha: If you can tour with another band, say from the local arena, who would that be and why?
Camouflage: Hmm…a hard question to answer. Honestly, can’t pick a band from the local domain but nationally if you ask then Pentagram or Zero (if they re-unite) or Junkyard Groove any of them if they agree then definitely we would like to tour with them at some point in future. We like them very much due to their innovation & musical prowess over a particular genre. It’s not easy in India to make a mark as a western band so for them making it big with their original music is no mean feat and we respect that very much.
Usha: Biggest challenge as an Indie band in India?
Camouflage: We would say that the biggest challenge is to get the mass audience to listen to Indie bands like us. As often mainstream Bollywood music orthodoxy creeps in, trying to dilute our efforts in most of the markets, always ruling with the majority. Hence to conquer the vicious circle monetarily and logistically becomes a daunting task as well as a tough hurdle to cross.
But having said that we realize that slowly but steadily times are changing with the people’s mindset, perception and likings are also changing too in a positive direction promising an optimistic future for the indie bands. Other than that staying together through thick and thin with patience and believing in the honesty of music also forms an integral part of being in an Indie band. Because, more often than not rough patches will be there this needs to be overpowered to see the light on the other side someday.
Usha: How important is clinching a record deal in India?
Camouflage: Very important as it helps in ground PR, in order to reach to a wider audience. But equally important is the publicity and marketing strategy of the deal as otherwise it will be just on the racks of record stores as just another record.
Usha: Future albums? Upcoming gigs?
Camouflage: Yes, we are currently recording in the studio and hopefully we will be able to get it out by the end of this year or early next year. As for the gigs right now we are playing frequently at the local Kolkata pub and college circuits as usual. However, in future, we are planning to play gigs outside Kolkata in other metro circuits to promote our music once we are done with the recording.
Usha: How can we gain access to Camouflage’s music?
Camouflage: We have our communities in Orkut, Facebook, MYspace and Twitter. We are now on the process of revamping all of our band pages and would be uploading our new stuff like songs, pictures and latest live videos for our fans. Fans can also interact here with the band and voice their opinions about the music. Down the line we are looking at promoting ourselves by putting up a dedicated Youtube channel or via a personal website as we approach our album launch sometime at the end of this year or early next year. So, by then fans can also get a copy of their own on album release which will contain some additional stuff like band documentary or a band video of the first single which we are planning at this point. Apart from that we are also looking at setting up a kiosk counter and distribute CD’S and merchandise at the venues where ever we play. There also the fans can get their access to our musical world.
Usha: For those who might not have heard of you, get them to attend your gig in less than 2 lines
Camouflage: “Get Camouflaged n Get going”
About the untitled album in the making…
Camouflage was kind enough to allow me to listen to a couple of their yet to be released tracks and I have to say they do have some potential that will soon be unleashed for your listening. ‘You know how I feel’ would be a track to look forward to when the album debuts late this year or early next year. The other track was ‘Claustrophic’. It takes a while to develop a liking for this particular track. Not everyone might enjoy what the tracks hopes to deliver.
We’ll wait and see when Camouflage releases its album.
For an introduction you can check http://www.myspace.com/camouflageindia to listen to a couple of their previous compositions.
Thank You for tuning in!
Note: Images courtesy of Camouflage – The Band
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.