In conversation with Folk-Rockers Swarathma
They are Namma Bengaluru’s beloved folk-rockers whose visually electric, high-energy live act is one musical experience to die for! Yes, it took 3 years for them to release their second album ‘Topiwalleh‘ (blame it on their extensive tours) but it was worth the long wait and you will agree if you listen to the numbers. Our very own musical genie Usha Amudan in conversation with Vasu, Varun, Sanjeev,Pavan and Jishnu of Swarathma.
I have to say there are very few covers that actually stand out. Both your album covers are colorful. It’s like Holi on a single page. Creativity much?
Vasu/Vocals & Guitar: Actually we don’t do covers, we play our own compositions… well…sorry I couldn’t resist that.
We believe that our music is a reflection of what young India today is and our art-form (designs) reflects that. When we have costumes and performance that reflects a vibrant celebration and theatrics, the intention is that our design should also reflect the same to have a cohesive message to put across. Each medium of work should support each other: music-costume-graphic-film-marketing. So there is no way that our designs could be anything but colourful; be it the truck/Indian Kitsch art in the first album or the newspaper as our theme in the second one. Having said that as a designer and as a person I also have a natural inclination towards colourful stuff, you should check out my wardrobe some time (3D goggles available before opening it).
What has changed since the release of “Swarathma”?
Varun/Guitars: There have been a lot of changes both musically and personally. Musically we feel a lot more confident to enter a recording studio or even play gigs. Songwriting has evolved a lot over the years with each of us exploring constantly and expanding our musical boundaries to include a wider spectrum of everything we come across in our daily life. This has brought out a great sonic difference in the band. Besides travelling with the band and spending so much time together has helped us understand each other so much more than what we did a couple of years back. And it is a journey and this will only grow into something bigger with each day passing by.
“Topiwalleh”, how has the response been for the new album?
Varun/Guitars: There have been some really good responses and a couple of not-so-good responses too, due to sharp shift in the sound of the band with a lot of heavy influences being added to the band’s sound. As a matter of fact there are still a lot of reviews that are still coming out as we speak. But from the point of view of people who matter, their response has been very encouraging, and we’re happy about it!
Tell us about the collaborations involved with “Topiwalleh”? How has that aided in the formation of the album.
Sanjeev/Violins: In Topiwalleh, the collaborations happened at multiple stages. During the songwriting, we collaborated with Devanand Varaparasad, a folk artist, during our song writing workshop in Mysore. The idea for the song Koorane was born out of this collaboration.
Once we were ready to record the album, we were helped greatly by Loy Mendonsa, a veteran musician of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy fame. The best part about collaboration with Loy was that he did not try to change our songs, but he gave them that extra edge to take them to the next level. Thanks to Loy we managed to up our production levels compared to the first album.
If you thought the percussion section sounded nice and tight in Topiwalleh, here’s why: Vivek Rajagopalan on mridangam, ghatam and Raju Sardar on the dholak. Both came on board and nailed the parts in no time!
We got second time lucky when we had the rare opportunity to collaborate with the legendary Hindustani Singer Shubha Mudgal for The Dewarists. Little did we know when we wrote and recorded this song in Mysore in less than 4 days that it will one day become part of our second album Topiwalleh. But considering the vibe of the song and the overall reception it received, there was no way we could leave it out!
On the lyrics department, we were helped a great deal by Puneet Sharma, Samir Shisodia and Imran Chowdhury. In fact, the term Topiwalleh for the title track was coined by Imran.
It was a great experience working with each one of them and without their help and support, this album wouldn’t have sounded the way it does.
The growing indie scene is largely popular among the younger Indian audience, incorporating the social factor into the lyrics might actually entice the older population to give your chords a listen. What’s your take on that?
Pavan/Percussions & Vocals: First of all I don’t think the indie scene is largely popular only among the younger Indian audience. From the personal experiences I have realized that audiences from all age groups tend to enjoy the music. Usually the older population is less seen at the venues, may be because of reasons like inability to stand for long periods of time at gigs. The indie scene in India has been there for the past several years, but only now it is gaining popularity. I am sure older people also wanted to make independent music but might not have been accepted positively then. But incorporating the social factor into the lyrics might add an advantage also, both for the young and older audience. Reason being everyone in the society has something to say. And when we as artists bring that out on stage with along with music, it is like representing their concern. So naturally it will be embraced, across age groups.
Swarathma’s music for the indie film, “Greater Elephant”. How does that feel?
Jishnu/Bass & Vocals: To begin with it feels great to be able to support the Elephant! On a more serious note, it feels wonderful to be able to contribute music to an independent film. We know and respect Srinivas Sunderrajan (of Enter Guerilla Films) via his association with metalcore band Scribe. In fact, we’ve even collaborated with Scribe on a couple of occasions. So when he came to us with the idea of the film and wanted to use our music, we were more than happy. If you watch the film you’ll realize that Swarathma’s music does fit in really well with the theme of the film and its sequences. It was also great to hear that the film won the jury prize at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York!
Tell us about “Action Replay”. What brought about the venture and how has the response been thus far?
Vasu/Vocals & Guitar: I’m not sure if the order of these events are right but here it is: We were travelling to Naukuchiatal (home of Shubha Mudgal ji) to stay at Shubhaji’s mother’s house and ‘chill’, that’s when Shubhaji’s mother suggested that we should perform for the locals there and some children from a residential school there. So we did jugaad for a basic sound system which could produce some sound and did a show which was the beginning of our Action Replay shows. As a part of the same tour, we went to Kolkata and played a show for the children (girls) rescued from human trafficking across border and it was an amazing experience to see those children smiling and dancing. This gave us more hope and strength in believing our music and what we can do with it. Basically we felt that such shows are the ones which satisfy us as artists and also do more than just entertain, there is an unknown connection that happens with such audiences who open their hearts and accept you with much love and warmth. So we decided to take this as a serious step and Jishnu with his marketing brains came-up with the name ‘Action Replay’. And from then on we’ve played at leprosy centres, Blind schools, Old-age homes and many such place where people wouldn’t have even thought of watching a live band play, they probably would never get close an opportunity like that in their lives. The response so far has been something that enriches and makes us believe in our music and keep going on. This is why I want to keep singing, because I know that I need to reach out to such people as well, while I also do corporate shows which pay our bills.
Recommend a track from either album for the first time Swarathma listener.
Jishnu/Bass: From the debut album Swarathma – ‘Pyaasi’. From the new album Topiwalleh: ‘Topiwalleh’.
What was the band aiming when it started off years ago?
Sanjeev/Violins: Swarathma started as any other college band back in 2002, trying to make original music and have fun in the process. Of course, the desire to do well was there – but so was the desire to make music that was original and music one can relate to. I think at that time, given where Swarathma was, getting a chance to perform on stage was a big deal. But the band stuck to what they were good at, writing songs and performing them at whatever opportunities came by.
Cut to 2007, the aim is still pretty much the same, only the desire has become much stronger. The lineup changed and with the new people came new ideas, new sounds and new expressions. The ideology remains the same, to make music one can relate to.
What’s next in the pipeline for the band?
Jishnu: I think we need a much needed break after the hard work we put into the writing, recording, post-production, promotion and touring for the album Topiwalleh! I don’t remember working so hard ever before, and everyone in the band played their part. I think it is important to rest, rejuvenate and return with fresh minds for what lies ahead. For the next year or so, we intend to promote Topiwalleh and the songs from it with more concerts, taking our music to more places and people. We would like to put out a live album, pretty soon. That will be our focus. We also want to start writing material for the third album and collaborate and share musical ideas with more artists.
Upcoming projects? Performances?
We’re working on the new anthem for youth TV channel Bindass. That should be interesting. As for performances, it is the end of the season, so you should ask us this 2 months from now.
A note to your fans:
Jishnu: Big love, thanks and respect for listening to us and supporting us for all these years. It would not have been possible without you.
Fill in the blank. People who love _____________will love our music.
Varun – People who would love us for what we are will love our music
Sanjeev – People who love listening to music that touches the soul will love our music
Pavan – People who love simplicity and honesty will love our music.
Vasu – People who love art which is more than just entertainment will love our music.
Jishnu – People who love the courage of conviction will love our music.
MOTHERJANE – Ethnic Spirits, Global Rock
So where were we the previous time? Chennai was it? What am I to say, except that we’re gonna hang around the South for a bit. This time it is Kochi, Kerala to meet the winners of 2009 Asian Voice Independent Music Awards (AVIMA) for Best Indie Rock Band in Asia and 2010 AVIMA for Best Vocalist and Most Popular Act in Asia. .
MOTHERJANE they call themselves. And the CAPS are accompanied with reasoning by the way. They have been around for more than a decade playing host to some varied audience around India. Sometime in 1996 was when the band took form and 14 years later, they have a massive fan following who call themselves the Janiacs
MOTHERJANE is currently made up of Suraj Mani (Vocals & Lyricist), Baijju Dharmajan (Lead Guitar), Deepu Sasidharan (Rhythm Guitar), Clyde Rozario (Bass) and John Thomas (Drums). MOTHERJANE encompasses a bit of multiple worlds: They have regional influence in their compositions . They use western instruments to create traditional pieces. They sing in English. What keeps the pieces together is the balance of not getting too carried away with the Indian beats nor making it entirely Rock with regards to the western perception.
Amidst getting their “baby”, the new Studio that is currently being constructed, all for the sole purpose of providing MOTHERJANE to conjure up awesome music for our hearing, Suraj, the voice behind the songs sat down to share some MOTHERJANE tidbits.
What is it that we don’t know about MotherJane but we should?
Well that it is spelt MOTHERJANE as a single word. Many people think it is two words Little piece of trivia for you, we used to use all small letters and now we prefer to use all caps. Does seem a lot bolder.
What has changed since MOTHERJANE was born back in 1996?
The entire industry has become better organized and there is a growing sense of confidence in many of the professionals and semipro’s, that this is a viable career. Greatest thing in a single statement would be, the number of young bands who think it is natural that they should make originals. It wasn’t like that once upon a time.
Biggest challenge as an Indie band in India?
Collating resources. Mainly in terms of creative, technical and other support teams. You see, a successful band has a lot of behind-the-scenes work happening and to inspire other people to commit their time and efforts to a shared dream is pretty much the single most critical point in going to the next level.
Which is harder? Writing a song, creating the music for it or performing live? Why?
I find writing the songs to be real easy and that’s a personal thing. Maybe because I’m so opinionated It does vary from artist to artist. Creating the music has been a logistical problem for us as I have been in Bangalore since 2001 and the rest of the guys in Kochi. Having said that, we almost come up with a song pretty effortlessly when we are in the same room together. Performing is the part that is seriously effortless.
How different is MOTHERJANE from the rest of the Indie bands in India?
Well we have been very professional in our approach. We have a reputation as a band that will be there on time, do sound-checks etc properly and deliver a killer performance no matter where or who the audience is.
Describe a regular creative session?
No real rules actually. If you are feeling good and have something to express, a song is already on its way. In that state of mind; creativity chooses you, not the other way around.
Which song from your released albums would you recommend for someone who hasn’t heard of the band? Why?
Well… All of them! We have two studio albums Insane Biography and Maktub and two singles called the Tribes of Babel and Jihad. Everything rocks
Complete the following statement: People who love (______________) will love our music.
People who love “To honor their roots and question the rules” will identify with MOTHERJANE. Our war cry of “Ethnic Spirits, Global Rock” springs from this philosophy.
I play a couple of instruments at varying levels of hopelessness and I could be tone deaf. Do you think you could use somebody like me in the band?
Is that a serious question? To be honest, we get a lot of similar requests. It’s almost like, “I am a great person, can I have an affair with your spouse?” (And I lost my chance of quitting school to become a rock star.)
Future Albums? Upcoming gigs?
Our label Aum-I Artistes is opening a new studio on the 15th of September and we are the reason they built such a studio. Hell yes! Songs are written, studio time is a given, new albums are coming. Season has also commenced in India, so the gigs are also kicking off. It’s a good time for us and we have worked for it.
A couple of studio albums under the titles of Insane Biography(2002) and Maktub (2009) are one of the many reasons for the growing numbers of Janiacs. A quick note about Maktub: Ya’ll aware of Rolling Stones Magazine yea? MOTHERJANE was featured in 2009 for coming up with The Best Rock Album for that year. That’s Right, Maktub was its name.
Apart from studio albums, they recently ventured into the South Indian Cine Arena as a music director composing the original soundtrack, Jihad, for Anwar, a Malayalam movie. It has been receiving rave reviews and many have cited it to be one of their favorite since its release in August.
I haven’t listened to their debut album entirely, but, I can vouch for Maktub and why it makes sense that Rolling Stones India named it the best album of the previous year. Almost all the tracks are of a favorite of mine, however, I am obliged to mention a few tracks one might wanna look out for. Such as Fields of Sound, Chasing the Sun, Mindstreet, and Broken. Guitar accompaniments are a major highlight for each of these tracks.
We would suggest you go grab their records from the first record store you come across. Then again, if you are reading this series for the first time and really doubt our music taste or perhaps are already expressing distinct music preferences than the ones we have to share here; you can always head over to www.reverbnation.com/motherjane or http://www.last.fm/music/motherjane or http://www.motherjane.in to get a taste of what MOTHERJANE has to offer.
Assuming you were impressed with their compositions and is now a true blue Janiac, welcome to the club! You may now stalk them at www.facebook.com/motherjane or http://twitter.com/motherjaneindia to keep yourself updated on the latest happenings of MOTHERJANE.
You guys also owe the PR Angel of MOTHERJANE, Eva Dowd, a Thank You for ensuring these sites are duly updated for us Janiacs.
To the readers: Guess it’s time we heard from you since Indie Rhythms began. All you have to do is let us know the Indie Musicians around India that you want featured in this series. They can already be making waves or they need a platform just so they can start creating some ripples or if you, yourself is a budding talent and need an audience; we’re all ears for ya. Mail me: Usha and I will get back to you.
Thank You for tuning in!
Note: Images courtesy of MOTHERJANE.
Junkyard Groove – Love Playing Live More Than Life
That was one long break that should have been much shorter, my apologies. Good stuff not only arrives in smaller packages but also takes time with the delivery.
Just to refresh that rusty memory; the last band that was featured in the series (before the disappearing act) was Indian Ocean from New Delhi.
This time we are heading down south to Chennai to meet the alternative rock band known as, Junkyard Groove. The groovy members of this live performance band include Ameeth Thomas (vocals), Craig Maxworth(bass) and Siddharth Srinivasan (guitars). They have been around and performing for close to five years now.
We got around to Ameeth Thomas to share a little about the groove that goes with the band.
Describe a regular music making process.
There is really no fixed way in which we do things especially with the writing of our new album. With 11:11 and Nicer In A Minute some of the songs were written before the band was started. Most of the songs where written with one acoustic guitar and parts built around it. The new album is turning out to be very different.
Major Influences in your music?
Pearl jam, Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, Artic monkeys, John Butler Trio, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Mute Math, Dub FX and the list goes on
Biggest challenge as an Indie band in India?
It’s like anywhere building a strong fan base. There are no short cuts to this.
How important is clinching a record deal?
If you ask me, not at all. With the advent of social networking and direct to fan base marketing there is really no need for a record deal. Another reason is studio and production costs have come down drastically, all you need is a good laptop a sound card, some recording software and it’s like you’re playing in the best studios in the world.
What was the band working towards to in the beginning and how has that changed thus far?
Not much has changed. We formed this band for the love of making and performing music. Only thing that has changed in the last 5 years is the scale at which we are doing it.
How does it feel to be onstage performing?
We are basically a live band that is how we built a fan base. We live to play live and love it more than life.
How different is JYG from the rest of the Indie Bands in India.
I do not know how different we are from the others. I guess that is not for me to decide. What I can tell you is that we not only concentrate on our music but all aspects of it. For example things like PR, marketing, composing, live performance, recording etc. Everything matters I guess. That is what bands here need to learn: Do not wait for someone to save you, save yourself.
Advice for people who might wanna form their own bands?
a. Have a f**k load of fun doing it
b. There are no short cuts to success.
c. Nothing good in life comes easy.
Future Albums? Upcoming gigs?
Right now the band is working on the next album and me (Ameeth) on my solo EP. As for gigs catch us on facebook and our website for updates.
Complete the statement: People who love ____ will love our music.
Pearl Jam, Incubus, Dave Matthews Band and John Butler Trio, you
Include 11:11 [bootleg] and Nicer In A Minute E.P. Both albums are readily available for download at www.junkyardgroove.net. All one has to do is sign up and you can download all their albums. It’s perfectly legal, if you are wondering that is.
11:11 [bootleg] was released early 2009. It features 11 tracks some of them having been featured in the Nicer In A Minute compilation as well. Some of the tracks starts with an Indian feel and later continues as a rock number. Folk You was one such track which also carried a couple of Tamil lines.
Interlude was a slow number accompanied with both rock music and Indian instruments. For one who is doubtful of JYG might wanna start with this track and move onto the rest.
It’s Ok starts with a quirky, lively feel to it and the energy is carried throughout the number.
Twinkle Twinkle starts as a laid back track and later takes upon layers. A tad faster than lounge music is what I would say.
Time you got your earphones and start groovin’
To be on track with their music, upcoming gigs and tour dates; one can stalk them, LIKE their status updates (and stalk ‘em more) or intrude their space.
Thank you for tuning in!
Note: Image courtesy of www.junkyardgroove.net
Camouflage – Get Camouflaged n Get going
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.