Lebanese band Wanton Bishops and city-based Swarathma share insights into their partnership offering — the song ‘Lay It On Me’

Some of the most memorable songs are those that blend genres and lives. And when two heavyweight champions of blues and folk music come together – historical moments like ‘Lay It On Me’ happen.

The vibrant song convergence of the two genres is the brainchild of Lebanese blues rock band Wanton Bishops and Bangalore folk rock band Swarathma who teamed up recently and launched the track as part of a collaborative effort by Red Bull.

Comprising Nader Mansour (vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards) and Eddy Ghossein (guitar, backing vocals, banjo), the Lebanese duo presented an intensely breezy, yet earthed soundscape in the multilingual song along with the topiwallah-Swarathma boys.

Sharing their experience from the epic collaboration, Nader from the Wanton Bishops and Varun Murali (lead guitarist) from Swarathma talk about why they decided to come together.

“We met for the first time at the NH7 Weekender festival in Kolkata,” says Varun. “This collaboration birthed at the Red Bull tour bus. We jumped at the opportunity since we’ve always being keen on partnerships which challenge us to bring out the best.”

Nader says, “We wanted to play with real folklore musicians and Swarathma were all that and so much more.”

The confluence of two very different sounds wasn’t so hard, say both bands. Nader says it started with Skype calls and sending each other a couple of mails and short notes. “But it was only when we met that the real experience started. When we interacted with them, we found the Swarathma guys to be genuine people who are not looking for anything apart from the pure joy of music.”

Varun pitches in and says the entire process was challenging because they only had two days for the entire project to be done from composing and recording to shooting the video. “The fact that both the bands are from different countries and have never heard of each other was another challenge since we didn’t even know what to expect.” But it all went well, he adds. “We spent time together jamming and eventually we got out a real nice song.”

‘Lay It On Me’ blends the soundscapes of both bands. Varun explains: “Initially we thought we’ll do something acoustic but the Wanton Bishops are heavy with a lot of blues. We wanted that happening in the track. So we made a blend of acoustic and electric sounds with a lot of percussive elements added in.”

India and Lebanon similar

The song dwells on the idea of sharing burdens and helping people. Nader says that during their visit to the country, they were shocked at how some people were living. “It is a sorry plight in our country too but it is masked by religion and other issues and people are taken care of because of political agenda. But in India, nobody takes care of people. It was too much to take in at first. We discussed this with Swarathma at length and we started talking about how we can help each other. That’s how the song evolved.”

Varun echoes the thought. “The song talks about the struggles we face in everyday life. More than talking about the struggles itself, we sing that if we share each other’s struggles, that will help lighten the burden. Sitting over dinner and talking about India and Lebanon, we found a lot of similarities.”

The multilingual track has Nader singing in English and Vasu in Hindi and Kannada.

Here in the country for the first time, Nader says the sights and smells of India were a real treat. “We always dreamt about coming to India and experiencing its beauty. We imagined it as a sacred place and only thought we will see temples and nature. But, we overlooked the city side and Kolkata gave us a big-city feel that was equally beautiful.”

Shooting in the lanes of Kolkata was more of a challenge for the filming crew than for us, he adds.

“The video is simply breathtaking. We would love to come back to India and play in festivals and shows.”

An album in the future together? Maybe, says Nader. “We don’t have plans yet. But why not? It sounds like a good idea. But, for now, this song should be shared as much as possible on the Internet.” Varun adds that they could plan a team up again soon but now “we want to spread the track and its message.”