Their irreverence for publicity reflects in their interviews and the only thing they take seriously perhaps, is their music. sbcltr speaks to the punk band on the release of their new album, Mwah.
Hoirong has been around for some time now, with two albums already out there, this is your third release. What has been the response to your last two albums and music so far?
It’s amazing. With a blink of an eye, you finally see the light.
The response has been tremendous. After the Grammy nomination for the first album, things skyrocketed. Playing at the Billboard music awards and the collaboration with Justin Bieber were pretty much the highlights of our careers so far. Since then, the reaction to the other two albums has been tremendous. But all that is our international acclaim. Locally things have been a bit more realistic. Dandaniya Apradh was a far more abrasive album compared to Mwah. It was fairly ‘critically well received which means, only people who reviewed the album actually heard it. Mwah on the other hand, is a far more accessible album in terms of music and production. Till now the response for it has been great. At least 7 people have told us it’s “not bad”.
Talk us through on how your creative process works. How do you guys collaborate ideas on a song? Does one person write the lyrics while others work on the sound or is it less linear and more spontaneous where you all help each other out? Since Hoirong has evolved from a solo project to a band, how has the dynamic changed in terms of creative process?
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. We believe in equality but it’s hard to keep up with the times. Especially with so much technological breakthrough in general overall record sales this year. It’s fascinating how the cash flow can determine how the dynamics in interpersonal correspondence can change. Kamal composes the frameworks of the songs which we then work together to complete. He is also a whip carrying tyrant and brandishes it freely on poor Akhil, who bears the major brunt of his rage. It’s saddening to see him left licking his wounds, crying in a corner singing blues songs on his Ukulele. Not a pretty sight, that.
What is the whole space that you see Mwah in? Tell us more about the process of song-writing and what are these emotions that define it?
Mwah is in the “Space Behind the Yellow Room”. The emotions drive the songs and not the other way around—most people think that we are emotionally chauffeured and redundant. It’s a myth. It always has been a myth. Mwah might remind you of the 90’s but if you consider the album as a whole, then as a sound it doesn’t really have one definitive genre. Is the 90’s a genre? Did someone say that? No? Oh? Oh Ok. Yes, so we don’t really work within a bracket either. Overall the album is about issues people like us face on a daily basis, our own personal battles or situations and relationships and people we have to deal with in life. In a way it’s a constantly running mid-life-existential-crisis expressed in a musical form.
What do you want your audience to take away from your music? Is there a certain message you’re sending out that is synonymous with the sound of Mwah and Hoirong?
We have always believed in life after death. Mwah is a tribute to the feelings of karma in the exact moment when it exists between existing and not existing. We make music that we enjoy, music that has a bit more substance for anyone who might make the effort to go a little deeper than the surface of just how it sounds, and explore what the songs are trying to convey. There is no message, it’s more a comment on how life is and how we see it and how a lot of it is a constant battle—whether within yourself, or with the constant struggles of life. Those feelings might be common for a lot of people out there and if any of that resonates with the people that are listening to it. FUN TAS TIK!!!!! 5 people so far have told us they understand.
Tell us about your association with Viraj and Keshav and what changes has that brought along to the table?
They have been begging to work with us for ages, so we thought we should get it over with. Phew! What a relief it has been. We can finally breathe now.
Viraj and Keshav are what Dr Dre was to Eminem. Eminem is both of them and we are Dr. Dre. Unfortunately they have been friends with Akhil and Akshat since they were all in another really lousy band called Another Vertigo Rush which was top favourite in the Psychedelic Shaadi band scene in the early 2000’s. Since then they have gone on to make far better careers than Akhil and Akshat put together by doing viable things like music production.
They both are also part of musical ventures called Karajimo (Notice the “K” for Karajimo and “K” for Keshav) and the world famous in India, Skyharbor (Viraj), Viraj does not like the first letter to his name – “V” for Victory, we suggested Victory as the name of the band but he refused. “S” must be the first letter of his girlfriend’s name. Viraj and Keshav were immense in their support for this album. It was a complete DIY effort and they really helped give shape to our sound on record and bring the album as close to what we sound live. They worked extremely well in the constraints we had—read, no budget whatsoever.
Kamal had already recorded his parts in Jamaica so the Drums for the album were recorded with the help of Kara Harbour in Akshat’s sound proof jam room in Malibu with a basic 4 mic setup. All 14 songs on the album were recorded across 2 very long evenings in October. Wait, one song does not have drums (Thank God!) so 13. All 13. Keshav is a musician himself who writes some very respectful and Djentlemenly riffs, but the only thing he does faster and better is sequencing drums on his software. Once Akhil finished recording his parts in Saket, New Delhi, we were ready to finally move towards the finish line.
Then on, Viraj, who has a very wide range of music that he composes and listens to himself, brought a great balance to our lo-fi inclinations and worked extremely patiently with the band to get the most out of each song. Overall Kara and Jimo brought a lot of chips and samosas to the table, along with some knob twiddling here and there, which is basically all that producers do, innit? The REAL talent is obviously just the musicians in the band, Duh! (You’re welcome Viraj and Keshav, Mwah)
Any particular artists that ultimately inspire you guys?
Gurdas Mann, Bappi Da, Yanni, Michael Bolton and ABBA. Also the compositions of Ashish Gupta and Piyush Pandey have always inspired us as a band.
Any particular venue or show that is memorable and you would love to hit repeat mode on it? Why?
Ctrl+Alt+Del was an amazing show for us, it was the first time we played Bombay and is also a gig done by some really genuine people trying to do something real and meaningful for the ‘scene’. Also, the Humming Tree show in Bangalore was amazing—a great venue to play in also run by some amazingly nice people who actually give a shit about their artists
What do you think of the punk scene in India?
Hahahaha what punk scene in India? There is no Punk scene in India—probably has never been. There is barely a ‘scene’ in India. But that is another interview altogether.
It’s amazing. With a blink of an eye you finally see the light.
Any words to fans, listeners, promoters, venues, politicians, anyone out there?
Life is a fragrance—smell it.
listen to the album here