Euphoria and String will jam together to spread the love on ‘Music Beyond Borders'

Two pluses make a plus. Simple arithmetic. Later this month, two very popular bands, Euphoria and Strings, will jam it out in a session to be aired on 92.7 BIG FM and BBC Karachi, in a programme called ‘Music Beyond Borders'.

As Palash Sen of Euphoria tells us, the idea started germinating a year ago. “Exactly a year back I had written a song called ‘Aman ki asha', and both the bands had performed together in Kolkata. And we suddenly realised the song sounded very nice, and even they (Strings) were very impressed and were like, ‘Why don't we do this song together?'” Also, ‘Aman ki asha' will feature in Euphoria's new album (untitled, for now), whose recording is almost over. In a couple of weeks, Strings will be in the Capital to record their part of the track, which is the only one pending.

Bonding over music

“Both the bands are very good friends with each other, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of food, a lot of laughter,” Sen says. They've shared platforms before. Besides a few stage shows together, Strings and Euphoria have also worked together on the single ‘Jeet lo dil', anthem of the Indo-Pak cricket series in 2004.

Strings and Euphoria are similar, and yet not so. Both bands have to their credit a bunch of really memorable songs that haven't got lost in the multitude of film and popular music. Strings, comprising Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia, burst on the Indian music scene in 2000 with their album “Duur”, which featured hits like ‘Duur' (of course), ‘Anjaane' and ‘Sar kiye yeh pahar'. This was 10 years after the release of their debut eponymous album in 1990 in Pakistan.

With a contemporary, mellow sound that was appealing in a humming-inducing sort of way, Strings soon followed it up other successful albums like “Dhaani” and “Koi Aane Wala Hai”, with ‘Na jane kyun' from the former featuring on the Spider-Man 2 OST. Theirs was a gentle trans-national appeal that was neither the earthy Sufi sound of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan nor the Rock-heavy magnetism of Junoon, but something more accessible — in a good way.

Euphoria shot to prominence with its first album “Dhoom” in 1998. The track ‘Dhoom pichuk' saw instruments like tabla and dholak getting a fresh setting in a track that was accompanied by a very popular video shot in Benaras. Just when we thought it was another flash in the Indi-pop pan, “Phir Dhoom” came along in 2000, riding on the hit ‘Maaeri'. Later other hit tracks followed, like ‘Mehfuz', ‘Aana meri gully' and ‘Ab na jaa'.

Euphoria, with Palash Sen as its most recognisable face, has had a few changes in line-up over its 12-year-history. At present, besides seniors like Debajyoti Bhaduri on bass guitar, Prashant Trivedi on tabla, Rakesh Bharadwaj on percussion and Ashwini Verma on drums, there are Vinayak Gupta on keyboard and Amborish Saikia on guitar who joined the band a few months ago. And then there are two backup vocalists in Vaishali and Kritika.

On the new album, tentatively scheduled for a June release, Sen says, “There are going to be 12 songs on the album. The Euphoria sound everybody is familiar with is very fusion — a mix of Indian and Western. But I think this time it's definitely going to be more Rock than it's ever been. The sound is younger, more energetic, fresher.” The themes dealt with vary too, he says, with love and allied topics ceasing to be the beginning and end of all. “Most of the songs we've written have been about the feeling of love. This album deals with different issues, like terrorism, religion and corruption. So there are different songs and different moods in the album, and different styles which we're experimenting with. I'm just hoping that the way people have received all our previous albums, they receive this one too.”