Bengaluru-based rock band Peepal Tree came together less than a year ago, comprising members from well-established bands such as Bhoomi, Thermal and a Quarter and the Raghu Dixit Project, so it’s no surprise to hear frontman Sujay Harthi say they’ve had it easy. Harthi adds, “If you see a band who started around the same time as us, they wouldn’t have played as much as we did.”
Within 10 months, Peepal Tree has performed across the city and gained a prime slot at the NH7 Weekender festival’s Bangalore edition last year. And before they took the next step of doing the national circuit, Peepal Tree are making their international debut in Myanmar on May 29, as part of the Asia-Pacific Broadcast Union (ABU) Radio Song Festival in Yangon, Myanmar. Peepal Tree was selected by All India Radio amongst several other artists and musicians from the country to represent India at the festival, which will also feature at least 14 more artists representing countries ranging from Pakistan and South Korea to Australia.
Says Harthi, “We chanced upon this festival — it is not very famous in the indie circuit festival. It is more like all these radio broadcasters in the Asia Pacific region getting together and having a concert once a year.” On the recommendation of a friend, the band applied to play at the festival via All India Radio Bangalore, and sent in their latest single ‘Nayi Khushi’ – which Harthi notes is also their first Hindi song – as an entry in January.
Harthi says things were a bit quiet after that. “They had kept us in the dark for a while and then said we were shortlisted and our entry was being sent to Delhi. There were other musicians in the shortlist.Then we didn’t hear from them – this happened in January. We figured it’s not going to happen. All of a sudden we got an email saying we were being sent to ABU as India’s official entry. Though it was happening for quite a while, the entire thing just came out of the blue.”
Calling the festival appearance a pleasant surprise, Harthi says he still doesn’t know what to expect from ABU Radio Song Festival. “We don’t know what to expect, it is yet to sink in! It has got a thrill of its own, though. They’re going to say that we are representing India, which itself is a huge thing for any artist. In that sense, it’s going to be overwhelming,” says Harthi.
Following their first international festival appearance, the band will return to concentrating on studio material. Peepal Tree, who primarily sing in Kannada and Hindi, head into the studio to complete work on at least three Hindi songs in mid-June. While recording parts at guitarist Tony Das’ studio, Harthi will record vocals at Audio Academy in Bangalore. Despite three Hindi songs in the works, however, Harthi assures that they won’t stop writing in Kannada. “I think a Hindi song would probably get more visibility than a Kannada song would. Having said that, we won’t move away from Kannada songs. We like to keep it balanced.”
We don’t know what to expect, it is yet to sink in