Why Bengaluru musician Tarang Joseph is dancing back to disco

Bengaluru-based musician Tarang Joseph talks about ‘Take Me Away,’ the lead track of his debut EP Liquid Sunshine and more

Published - June 10, 2024 01:09 pm IST

Tarang Joseph for Liquid Sunshine

Tarang Joseph for Liquid Sunshine | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I found that writing music from an instrument I have a limited knowledge of, created a set of constraints that allowed for interesting outcomes,” says singer-songwriter Tarang Joseph

The young artiste who recently released ‘Take Me Away,’ the lead single written as part of a four-track EP, was talking from his studio in Bengaluru, about the making of these songs.

“I grew up on music from the 80s; my mom loved ABBA, BoneyM and Michael Jackson, and they were always on at our place. As much as I enjoyed them though, I never really dabbled in it. Then, about a year and a half ago, I was listening to artistes creating house music with a disco influence and liked what I heard.”

Tarang says he began listening to dance music again, “especially Silk Sonic by Bruno Mars. and Anderson .Paak — they took the 70s and brought it back in a way that sounded fresh.”

“I grew interested in the whole idea of disco and its history — how it came up and died out. It’s such a fun genre, I wanted to create a disco project,” he says, adding, “This was the first time I’ve had a clear structure of what I wanted to create when I started, which has never been the case before.”

Also Read: Singer-songwriter Tarang Joseph on how he draws from personal and philosophical influences

“I usually would start expressing myself through music and let it take shape. I wouldn’t have a vision as such; I would wing it and end up getting somewhere. I believe it took some experience before I was able to understand that how I began creating would shape my final product in a particular way.”

The other change Tarang consciously undertook was to his songwriting style. “I’m a pianist primarily and that is how I usually begin my songs. Then I began toying with the idea that writing songs starting with other instruments tended to lead to a different outcome.”

“It was a fascinating process for me. I’ve been playing the piano since I was three and since I am pretty proficient at it, I tend to over complicate it with music from that end. So this time, I decided to write a disco EP with just drums and bass vibes, shaping the whole process around that.”

“This latest EP Liquid Sunshine came about because I was experimenting with a new songwriting style. Today, a lot of house music serves up disco but with an electronic feel. We decided to take the disco influence, pair it with live instrumentation and create a unique sound. I’m pretty happy with the result.”

Tarang Joseph

Tarang Joseph | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When Tarang says “we” he means bassist Surya Kalyanaraman, guitarist Adesh Vinod and drummer Shourjo Chatterjee. “I usually make music on my own, but this time round, I am with a band. Working on my own was getting lonely and boring,” he laughs.

But a band brought Tarang far more than a great-sounding EP — that EP took the band places.

Serendipity steps in

When the band was called to play at Bengaluru’s Under-25 Summit this year, Tarang says he had had a “couple of cool projects” brewing since 2023. “Unfortunately, we got a 4pm slot — everyone knows there isn’t much of a turnout at that time of day as most people don’t show up until later.”

“Adesh suggested that since I had all the songs and unfinished demos, we could flesh it out and finish them as a band. We had four days to go for the Summit and since we were so sure there wouldn’t be too many people there, we could use the time productively.”

From left: Surya Kalyanaraman, Tarang, Adesh Vinod and Shourjo Chatterjee at the Under-25 Summit in Bengaluru this year

From left: Surya Kalyanaraman, Tarang, Adesh Vinod and Shourjo Chatterjee at the Under-25 Summit in Bengaluru this year | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Over the next three days we finished the songs with everyone pitching in to help with chords and parts, and Surya co-writing, ‘Take Me Away’.

On the day of the Summit, Tarang says they found their slot had been moved from 4pm to 7pm, and to add to their jitters, actor Abhay Deol was giving an interview on the stage from 6.30pm till right before they got on.

“We had to get on stage and play right after he finished, and we were only prepared for those four new songs. Abhay Deol had pulled in a great crowd and as scary as it was, we didn’t want to lose them.”

“Fortunately, the engineer mixing for that stage was someone I work with regularly. We started with the popular Bruno Mars number ‘Locked out of heaven’, and the crowd got got even bigger. We introduced ourselves, told them about our new songs and then played for them.”

“I’ve never had that kind of crowd response for any show before!” says Tarang, the thrill still in his voice. “The lyrics to ‘Take Me Away’ had been fully fleshed out only the day before, and yet, the audience was singing it back to us. That’s how we knew these songs were great to play live.”

Apart from the songs Tarang says he is quite fond of that era, “Its fashion and the culture that existed. I wanted to visually portray that as well so we specifically shot our music videos for Insta reels as a throwback to that time. But instead of New York in the ‘80s it was the disco movement in India we aimed for.”

Take Me Away is now out on all streaming platforms

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