Troika Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy talk about their latest iPhone app, the U.S. tour, and how they've managed to be together for over a decade…
Bollywood has seen music composers work in teams of two — stick together, split, reunite… — but here's is the musical troika of Bollywood, And they have been around since 1997, when the late filmmaker Mukul Anand got them together for his film “Dus”. They composed the extremely popular number ‘Hindustani', which went on to become a pop anthem of sorts, though ironically the film never got completed.
But, Thus was got formed the band, as they like to call themselves – SEL (as they like to call themselves), comprising the engineer Shankar Mahadevan, the ad-music composer Ehsaan Noorani and the TV script writer- and composer Loy Mendonca, has Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have not looked back since. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy They have composed for films such as like “Mission Kashmir”, “Dil Chahta Hai”, “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, “Lakshya”, “Bunty Aur Babli”, “Don”, “Johnny Gaddar”, “Taare Zameen Par”, “Rock On!!”, “Wake Up Sid”, “My Name Is Khan” and “Karthik Calling Karthik”. Now, after completing a dozen years in the industry, taking their music a step further, they've announced an association with technology giant Apple, and become the first Indian music composer group to have a customiszed application on the iPhone, enabling fans all over the world to know stay updated with the latest from the band. The application, available to all iPhone users across the globe and also compatible with the iPod touch and the iPad, will allow access to exclusive content, backstage videos and music from the talented musicians. It has been created by OML Digital, an Indian company that specialiszes in building technology for entertainers, helping content creators to reach out, monetise monetize and track their content. Excerpts from an interview with the trio, who have just back returned from a very successful U.S. tour.
How did the idea of an iPhone application occur to you?
We've been working with OML for a long time, and they suggested the concept to us. They are into rock bands and technology, and have a full-fledged team to build the software. In fact, we were hoping to get the app ready before we left for the U.S. in July, but we realised software-building takes its time! The iPhone app is just the first in our series of initiatives — we're planning to pan out globally. One collaboration has been with OML, there's another in the pipeline with a U.K.-based company. We are looking for music publishers to administer, catalogue and track our royalties.
What can your fans expect from the app?
Besides music content, there's behind-the-scenes activity too — about how a song comes into being, for instance. In India, the making of the music has become a popular section within the making of the movie, but that's discussed by actors, not composers, lyricists or singers. We want to change that. There's an animated version of us on the app. There's also a forum where one can interact with each of us. Non-film music gets an equal share too. We even plan to put out our raw music and cold play it for fans to gauge their reaction.
You've announced the launch of your own label ‘SEL Songs'.
It was on the anvil for a while now. Record companies in India prefer film music, and it's a great situation for established composers such as us, but not so for new entrants. A lot of good talent out there doesn't get a chance; and is looking for a break in films, which is difficult to come by. Even in television reality shows for singers, the best of the lot bears the brunt of audience SMSes. A music label of our own would be a great idea, we thought. Of course, it will have our own albums, but we'll also invite other artistes and fresh talent.
You do have a fairly strong ground abroad. Your recent U.S. tour was successful.
Actually, it helps that all three of us are performers, and not mere composers. So, the crowd responds fantastically when we are on stage. That explains the great turnout in Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Atlanta and New Jersey!
Your forthcoming projects…
We've just finished composing for two films — “Don 2” and “Patiala House”, besides a few corporate ad films. We are currently concentrating on the first album under our label.
When even duos find it difficult to stick together, how have you managed?
We work like a band — jam on ideas, meet daily (except weekends) at the studio, and create music. We have our share of arguments, but, get them sorted. There are huge showdowns too. But then, losing it on one another is no big deal; we just want to create the best at the end of it.