A heady collaboration between Imaad Shah and Saba Azad

Past. Future. Jam: Imaad Shah and Saba Azad   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Mumbai-based live electronica act Madboy/Mink recently released a new EP, ‘Persons. Elastic. Superior. Fantastic’. Their third EP together, PESP sees Imaad Shah and Saba Azad explore a more dynamic sonic palette that’s inspired by synthesisers. Through the four-track EP, Imaad and Saba endeavour to introduce fans to a newer side of their sonic personalities. As part of the PESP tour which kickstarted in Mumbai, Madboy/Mink performed in Delhi early this week.

Here, Imaad and Saba talk about ‘Persons. Elastic. Superior. Fantastic’ while reflecting upon their journey together as part of Madboy/Mink.


Tell us about the beginnings of Madboy/Mink. What was the initial idea behind your collaboration?

Imaad: The first thing we worked in together was a play that Saba was directing and that’s how we met and started having jamming sessions. I had heard her sing with other bands and then one night I heard her sing at a party at a friend’s house. She was singing in the corner with another guy with a guitar. I heard her voice and immediately I wanted to collaborate with her. Initially, I got her to sing some of my old productions. Then those songs started to evolve into something else. New ideas came up and we started to jam a lot more often and before we knew it we had six to eight songs. Then in 2013, a friend gave us a show in Delhi and that show kind of helped us to tie everything together. From that point onwards we started doing more and more shows together and kept making music. We also started discussing about the kind of sound. What we basically had in our heads was a combination of French electro with a little bit of Blues and a little bit of old school 1960s like psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll. And then that evolved into other things. We brought a disco element into it. Now, hopefully, the idea is have a sound that’s not sticking with any specific genre or style but rather inventing something of our own.

What is the story behind the names Madboy and Mink?

Imaad: Thanks to my friends my name has had various versions of it over the years such as I-Mad and Madboy came out of it. I feel it’s simple, unpretentious and direct. It’s a name that doesn’t imply a genre and is as open-ended I want it to be.

Saba: Mink actually is a pet name which one of my favourite producers, Audio Pervert aka Samrat B, gave me. He is no longer in the country. He lives in Spain now. So when the time to name our band came, we zeroed in on Madboy / Mink.

What can we expect from your latest EP, 'Persons. Elastic. Superior. Fantastic'? What’s the secret behind the unique name?

Saba: The naming process for our EPs has never been a short one. We kind of go through a series of names and we kind of live with those names. The inspiration of our latest EP is drawn from retro-futurism in a way and understanding of the future that people have in the past which is almost never what it actually turned out to be. So both Imaad and I have been quite fascinated by the concept of retro-futurism. In the 1970s especially that had very interesting imagery around retro-futurism. So that was like an overriding theme for us as well as what the view of the world would be from the space, the world we live in today. So in a way this EP for us is a commentary for the world we live in today. It is political. It is talking about what’s going on in the world around us. And it is a view from the space because often when you are in the midst of things the perspective is skewed. It is only when you step out to the fringes you are able to see the society for what it is.

One of the songs 'Plastic Elastic' features the late Karan Joseph. What's the creative idea behind including him?

Imaad: Karan was a very dear friend of mine. He used to come over to my house and we would jam all the time. One day I was working on a song when he came over and he was sitting on the couch when he heard the song. He had his fingers on the keyboard all the time and he started playing. He was a real virtuous keyboard player, a fantastic musician. So when he started playing I told him that I was going to record it and he said fine. He must have recorded like ten takes because he was so full of musical ideas. So next day when I listened to them again I was just blown away. That song was always meant to have him playing on it. It’s a great tragedy that he passed away like he did and the sound couldn’t get ready while he was alive. But his mom has heard the song and it made her feel happy and proud.

You had to cancel an EP launch tour because of Saba's back problems. When did the injury happen? How has the recovery been so far?

Saba: The injury happened recently and so the recovery has been quite fast because I have some very good people working on my back. I can’t say I am a 100% yet but I am getting there. The injury is a result of a deep tissue massage that I got. It kind of dislodged my disc. Then after that when I went to see a doctor I was told that it’s a lower back spasm and was advised 15 days of rest. After 15 days I was back to my regular work out regime which is really hardcore. So it ended up becoming much worse.

What’s the secret behind your onstage chemistry? Do you make any special efforts towards getting it right or does it flow naturally?

Saba: I feel that chemistry can’t be created out of thin air. It has to be natural. Imaad and I have been great friends and for so long. I think good friends always project great chemistry. It’s is definitely not something we have made an effort towards. I guess we are lucky. It’s just there. And it comes out on stage and we are happy for that.

How defined are your roles in the band. How do you deal with creative differences?

Saba: Both of us get into the studio and we write and make the music together. But there is no single way in which we do this. Sometimes one of us produce and the other steps away and vice versa. There are times when I write the lyrics. At other times Imaad writes it. At times we combine our lyrics. Both of us keep switching our roles.

I feel creative difference are very important for growth. Also to have someone who doesn’t agree with you all the time is important. It’s important that you are challenged on constant basis. That your ideas are challenged. We both are very opinionated people. So there are plenty of different and often they lead to deadlocks. Then at some point we find a way around it, or we try both ways and figure out what sounds better. There are instances when one of us takes the backseat to end a deadlock. In the absence of such difference, I believe things would be really boring.

Tell us about your influence and inspirations. What can we expect next from Madboy/Mink?

Imaad: Some of my favourite musicians are Fela Kuti, Prince, and Quincy Jones, among others. Also, early electronic music and late disco have influenced me greatly.

Now, I am doing a concert with a singer called Asha Puthli in Mumbai on October 19. She is a legend who went to New York and Berlin in the ‘70s and made it pretty big there. Now she is coming out of her hibernation to do this show. Her music is really an influence. A lot of stuff from the mid-70s is a big influence on me.

Saba: I can go on and on talking about influences. It’s always so daunting for me to think of a few names. I would just say that there have been many influences such as rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz, disco, etc. My influences cut across genres, across decades, across centuries even.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 12:51:43 AM |

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