Music

When Chai Met Toast’s debut album will make you feel young

What makes us feel young? It is a question that Kochi-based band When Chai Met Toast is exploring through its début album, three years since they began dominating the Indian indie/folk pop scene.

Recently released ‘Kahaani’, the third single in When We Feel Young, lets a gentle acoustic guitar and banjo fill in each other’s silences. The sound is endearingly familiar to listeners of indie folk, but what’s different this time around is that the lyrics are entirely in Hindi. Penned by Ankur Tewari — another favourite among Hindi-speaking crowds with a liking for quiet acoustics — ‘Kahaani’ is about “two nice people who just met at the wrong time,” as vocalist Ashwin Gopakumar puts it.

“We felt the tune suited Hindi lyrics and once we had decided that, there was no better person than Ankur to pen the song,” he says, adding, “In February, Ankur wrote the song on a napkin, during a flight, and sent us a picture of it. That’s it, it didn’t need many iterations.”

A look at the song’s comment section on YouTube — full of people claiming to call their exes after listening to this song — would make it seem that recognising ‘the one that got away’ (despite the vaguely abductor-like phrasing) is a rite of passage into adulthood.

And this throwback to youth is the overarching theme of the album; it is not so much about being young as it is the vagaries of moods that make us relive our youth. “Those emotions you have when you’re young, can come back to you even if you’re 20, 40, 50…” says Ashwin.

Before ‘Kahaani’’s restrained melody was preceeded by an all out celebration in the form of the band’s second song, ‘Maybe I can Fly’. Palee Francis’s use of the synth and Pai Sailesh’s drums evoke the rush of heady confidence in one’s future.

The first song of the album is the eponymous ‘When We feel Young’ which has Ashwin singing of an ageless love. “That song was actually us looking at our parents and realising how good they are with each other,” he says. This hit deeper especially after the pandemic, when they returned to live with their families after five years of gigs — Ashwin in Thiruvananthapuram and Palee, Sailesh and guitarist Achyuth Jaigopal in Kochi.

“I have seen how my parents got through the lockdown together,” he says adding, “My father has retired but my mother hasn’t. So he drops her to her work and picks her up every day, and in the evenings they share a drink and play Scrabble. If you have love like that, whatever be your age, you feel young.”

When Chai Met Toast’s debut album will make you feel young

To sounds of Nature
  • In rain-swept Vagamon, the four members of When Chai Met Toast sit huddled around a wooden table in the centre of all things green, playing to the sounds of Nature. Alongside the album, the band is releasing a series of ‘Nature Tapes’, featuring stripped down versions of their songs. “We have to travel a lot but wherever we go, we try to be as sustainable as possible. Because all four of us are very environment conscious, and we love Nature. This is one of our ways of showing that (minimalism),” says vocalist Ashwin Gopakumar. After shooting three videos at Little Flower Farms in Vagamon, the band is now looking to shoot the other songs somewhere in Kochi.

The album has been a year-and-a-half in the making, reveals Ashwin. If not for the pandemic, the band would have headed to the US for recording and aimed at a June release. “Before the lockdown began, we already had three songs ready to be released.”

And then, after a brief hiatus of staying at home, once travelling became easier again, the band met and decided to release the album anyway. “It was a bad time for everyone and we thought releasing new songs would make us all feel better.” There are five more upcoming songs from the album and they are all being mixed and mastered currently; “the next one is called ‘Ocean Tide’,” he adds.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 3:01:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/when-chai-met-toast-debut-album-when-we-feel-young/article32675786.ece

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