Brewing new ideas


Masala Coffee band is debuting in tinsel town and is also coming out with its first album

Masala Coffee burst into the independent music scene with its eclectic mix of songs. The band has dished out songs of all genres – ranging from rock to melody to folk. The songsters are coming out with their first work in tinsel town.

They have composed three tracks for the upcoming Tamil movie Uriyadi, produced by Nalan Kumaraswamy (director of the hit movie Soodhu Kavum) and Sameer Bharat Ram for their banner Pinrom Pictures. “It is perhaps for the first time that a music band is scoring music for a Tamil film. They had contacted us after listening to our tracks,” says Varun Sunil, percussionist and singer of the band.

One is the “metal version” of the poem ‘Agni konjondru kanden...’ written by Bharatiyar and sung by Sooraj Santhosh, the lead singer of Masala Coffee.

In Kerala, unless you sing covers you can’t reach out to the listeners. But that’s just the starting point.

Sooraj has crooned another number with Varun – ‘Kantha…’, the popular folk song that has been used in the movie with Tamil lyrics. The Malayalam version of ‘Kantha…’ sung by Sooraj had gone viral on the net, with the band given it a different flavour by incorporating “funky” rhythm. Anthony Dasan has crooned the third number.

Adapting to film music wasn’t easy though, admits Varun.

“The industry has its dictums and the viewers expect certain kinds of songs in a Tamil film. For instance, a Tamil movie has to have a folk song. We finalised the tracks after several interactions with the makers. We had to compromise on certain occasions, but didn’t dilute the flavour of the band. So somehow striking a balance between the two was crucial for the movie. For us, more than the commercial element, it is the music that is important. It is a huge exposure for us, because it is not just one individual but the whole band that is getting involved in a film,” says Varun.

Meanwhile the band is already working on its album, which will have eight or 10 songs. It is a collaborative project in which the band will be working with musicians from across India.

“We are already working with Shanker Tucker and Raghu Dixit. A couple of other big names too will be involved. It will also have some of the original compositions that we have already done. In fact, it will be a masala of genres,” he says.

The band, which has musicians who’ve established their presence through Coke Studio and their programmes with well-known singers/composers, already has original compositions such as ‘Once Upon a Time in Punjab’, ‘Karikkinpattu’, ‘Tamas’, ‘Odi Odi’, and ‘Vadakkan pattu’.

Like many other bands, Masala Coffee had struck a chord with the audience with the unplugged version of cover songs. In their case, the A. R. Rahman composition ‘Munbe va…’ was the ticket to fame.

So how do they take the criticism that new-age bands are tampering with the intrinsic quality of songs by coming up with their cover or unplugged versions?

“In Kerala, unless you sing covers you can’t reach out to the listeners. But that’s just the starting point. Once you establish your presence, then you can come out with originals, which most of the bands have been doing. And while doing covers, a band has to do justice to the music composer,” Varun signs off.

The line-up

Sooraj Santhosh (vocals),

Gokul Eknath (vocals),

Varun Sunil (percussion/vocals),

Joe Jacob (drums),

Preeth P.S. (guitars),

Pauly (bass),

Sunil George (keys),

Arshad Khan (esraj),

David Crimson (lead guitar),

Ajay Shivaraj,

Nithin Menon

and Vishnu Sunil (all of them are guest artistes).

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 9:00:05 AM |

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