It’s raining EPs in Chennai’s indie circuit

The look of a song Art for (above) Poetry On a Bus and Fall Today Shloka Pandey and special arrangement   | Photo Credit: Shloka Pandey by special arrangement

Bedroom pop gets its name not from the cosy, lazy vibe of the genre, but from the fact that it is DIY. No studio recordings, no elaborate collaborations, just heartfelt music made by one artiste in his own room, maybe with some help from friends. So “bedroom pop” is how 19-year-old Ashwin Iyer describes his maiden EP, the two-track Poetry On A Bus, that might just lull you to sleep for all the right reasons.

On the other hand, Alvin Presley’s first-ever EP Fall Today follows a starkly different vibe and line of emotion: he managed to wrangle in one studio recording before the lockdowns began.

Chenai singer-songwriter Alvin Presley

Chenai singer-songwriter Alvin Presley  

For a début project, the four-track EP does a solid job of serving up a sound that is its own. A hint of melancholy permeates, and Alvin’s soulful notes are made more urgent by bursts of percussion — most noticeably in the first few minutes of the track ‘Fallen Mornings’. No track is evenly intense: the pulse quickens and slackens multiple times, almost by the minute. The near-psychedelic ending of ‘Falling star (Pogathey)’, for instance, is a very good moment to lose yourself in. Many instruments go into creating each mood, which makes the fact that Alvin did most of it himself more impressive.

“It is an alternative, folk, pop, R&B, progressive mixture... basically whatever I love and know about music. All the elements that have inspired me, that I like most when playing, I have put into this,” says Alvin, “I began working on it — mixing, mastering, production, everything — in January, and was at it till July. Only one of the songs, called ‘Falling Star’, was written a couple of years ago.”

In contrast, Ashwin’s Poetry On A Bus was the work of a single, neat month. “Both songs took less than a month... I was never putting out music like this [at this pace] before,” says Ashwin, a student at KM Music Conservatory. His creations are the work of many minds, and he is more than happy to give credit.

It’s raining EPs in Chennai’s indie circuit

“The main collaborator is Pratyush Shankar, who I also work with for my band PA Systems. Pratyush usually writes the songs and sings them... he comes up with a narrative, a story to tell, and I weave the music around it,” he says.

The rainy-day vibe, he says, came from an amalgamation of influences, from Chennai-based The F16s to a number of Western artistes. Guitarist Hrday Sunil and bassist Prashanth Venkat also added to it: the result sits at the crossroads of bluesy and sunlit breezy.

Poetry On A Bus seems to have caught imaginations even beyond the city circuit, but it is not the only collaboration in recent times to have caused a stir.

It’s raining EPs in Chennai’s indie circuit

Kevin Paul aka Mr Kev’s lockdown album Quarantino is a gift that keeps on giving: especially its most recent release ‘Inbam Pongum Velai’. Made in collaboration with Chennai artiste Anand Kashinath and featuring vocals by — wait for it — Benny Dayal, the track is a quintessential love song at its core, with just a touch of Mr Kev’s zany style.

Says Mr Kev, “The Tamil lyrics are by Anand; he and I also did the backup vocals. It is hard to say exactly how many days it took, because there were many tracks I worked on simultaneously in my 12 days of self-quarantine.” Though the base was formed then, improvements are a constant process, and the plan is to release one song each month.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 6:46:01 PM |

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