New sounds, old cymbals

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Five men of Faridkot The Delhi band is back with their second album Phir Se?
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Rainbow flower. That’s how 28-year-old Inderpreet Singh, lead singer of Faridkot, describes Phir Se?, the band’s new album. Formed in 2008, the Delhi-based group had its first taste of popularity in 2009, when as finalists of Channel V’s music reality show, Launchpad, they made everyone sit up and take notice of their talent.

In 2011, they came out with their first album, Ek, and introduced audiences to a range of angst-ridden tunes. This time around, there are new band members, bigger plans and the music much more experimental for their 10-track album.

Founding members Singh and Rajarshi Sanyal are still the band’s mainstay.

Singh leads the vocals while Sanyal plays the guitar. Among the new band members, Sahil Khoji Mendiratta plays the drums, Nikhil Rufus Raj plays bass and there’s Akshat Taneja on the keyboard. Faridkot launched Phir Se? with a sixcity tour across India on 30 June. The first performance was in New Delhi recently and the band will be travelling to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune and Kolkata.

For a band just two albums old, Faridkot has already gone through the oft-treaded route of ‘that-new-band-everyone’s- talking-about’ to belting out hit numbers to gaining instant popularity to a couple of band members leaving to a lag period and finally rounding up with another album with new promises for old fans. The trajectory seems conventional. Their music, however, is a different story.

One of the band’s songs, Laila, became all the rage among the youth when it was released in 2011. As a song, it was just another number that addressed the lovelorn state of a rather indignant majnu, but the honesty of the tune stuck. The strong pining for Laila impressed a lot of contemporary Hindi music buffs. That album also built a wide fanbase in a relatively short time: “At one show we had to play that song six times in the course of an hour!” says Sanyal. Singh gives an interesting back story. “Raj and I were slightly tipsy when we came up with the lyrics to that one…we thought it was nothing exceptional. At Launchpad, we sang it first because we wanted to keep the better ones for later! We had no idea it would be so popular.”

The real beginning, though, was in 2009. “We formed the band in 2008, and to get a call from a TV channel asking us to come and play was amazing,” says Singh, before adding with a grin, “They also said ‘aapko paise nahin dene padenge’.” Born in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, Singh has been in Delhi since he was two-months-old. But it took him until the second year of his engineering college to realise that music is what he wanted to do. Starting by singing with a group of musicians called Artistes Unlimited that did some shows in the city, he began composing his own songs by the time he finished college.

It was around the same time that he met Sanyal, who would become the guitarist for Faridkot. Nikhil Rufus Raj, 28, the bass player and Akshat Taneja, 18, the band’s keyboardist and youngest member, joined later in 2012. Sahil Khoji Mendiratta, 25, the band’s drummer, too joined in 2011. The men who have left are bassist Gavin Pacheco and keyboardist Akshay Raheja.

The first time Faridkot performed in a proper show was at RC Live, a radio channel competition organised by Radio City and judged by Palash Sen and Subir Malik. They made it to the finals. But, pan-India recognition only came with Channel V’s Launchpad. “Before that, no one knew about us,” says Singh. “It gave people the opportunity to form an opinion about our music and thankfully most of them liked it.”

Faridkot’s music has since evolved, in the words of Singh, into something akin to a visual representation of their experiences. “It was a gradual process,” says Singh. “We have spent the past four-five years listening to a much more wider range of music. This has helped us broaden our sensibilities also.”

Singh reserves a major share of the credit for Mendiratta, who, he says, is a “seeker of new music and artists”. American rock bands like Mars Volta and Tool influenced the band by their blend of trance in their music to produce newer sounds, which is something Faridkot has consciously tried to do in the new album. Singh says that they have tried “looping”, using short bursts of sounds on loop for a trance effect. This partly explains the quirky name, Phir Se?.

This urge to do something very different creatively shaped the album. Guitarist Sanyal talks about the creative process. “The first album revolved more around the old trope of romantic love and heartbreak. But we actually took a break this time… roamed the hills and explored nature. That’s when we realised we should be exploring other sentiments too in our music, not just conventional romance”, he says. Chennai-born Sanyal spent part of his childhood in Kolkata before shifting permanently to Delhi where he finished his education. However, before he recognised music to be his true calling, Sanyal was actively engaged in sports, representing Delhi in cricket at one point. But then the allure of Pink Floyd, Nirvana and Jimmy Page prove to be too strong.

Sanyal’s 26 years belie his clarity of the kind of music he wants to create. He says that the whole process of recording in a studio excites him. “In a studio you can really carve the song into something interesting. The entire process of constructing a song, adding layers to it, is quite a challenge,” he says. A lot of effort has gone into making the new album sound slicker. Sanyal says that the band has worked hard to ensure that the music has a more global ring to it and is also quick to point to a more nuanced shift for the discerning fan. “Most of the songs in the first album started with guitar and vocals. Then the other instruments would kick in. But this time, the songs mostly start with drums and bass followed by the guitar and then lyrics.”

The band has also increased its focus on music videos. The funds for the video of Mahi Ve, a song from the album, were crowdsourced. “Even if a song is mediocre but the video is interesting, it can do well,” explains Singh. “It just connects more with people.”

While on the topic of popularity, the talk invariably veers towards female attention. Sanyal has an interesting take. “Post performance, I have seen more guys turn out to just hang around. Rarely do I see girls.” Singh, who rues never having written a love letter, just love songs, shares Sanyal’s views. It’s not the same trademark honesty of their lyrics, but it’s something that is only expected of young men in their 20s.

asad@tehelka.com

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