One of Bengaluru’s most popular rock bands is releasing its debut album this month. ‘A Strange Connection’, an eight-track album, draws on the personal experiences of each of the six members of Perfect Strangers — from stories about abusive relationships and toxic selfie culture to the love of making music.
Although Perfect Strangers has been around since 2013, the group has seen several musicians come and go. The current lineup — Raphael Emileenaa (vocals), Pranav DM (vocals), Prashanth Gnanamuthu (bass), Preran Gulvady (drums), Joshua Costa (keyboard), and Debjeet Basu (lead guitar and vocals) — is just two years old.
Only Basu has been a member since the beginning. He has witnessed the group’s slow evolution: at first a band bent on getting gigs and playing covers, the group’s second lineup initiated a transition toward original music.
Now, in its third generation, the band has achieved its clearest trajectory yet. “With this group, the mindshare is the strongest,” Basu said.
For a “melodic rock” group that often blends elements of rock, pop, jazz and blues, most of the members attribute the unity of diverse sounds to a dominant rhythm section. “The ideology of the musical direction is very similar — all of us are Totoheads,” Basu said, also citing inspiration from bands Steely Dan and Journey.
The lyrics then evolve out of the instrumentation, Emileenaa explained. She, and the other lead singer Pranav D M, began their music careers with classical training. From ages seven to 17, Emileenaa — also a hair and make-up artiste — trained in Western classical music and opera with the Bengaluru School of Music; DM, an architect, grew up in Hindustani classical music from age 12, subsequently exploring rock and indie. All of the members have experience working with other bands or musical groups — many in college.
Determined to take their work to the next level while retaining artistic independence, the band launched a crowdfunding campaign last year to produce their debut album. In just 45 days, Perfect Strangers raised Rs 8.26 lakh. “What was amazing about it is that within the first 48 hours, we raised almost four lakh. That’s not what we expected,” Emileenaa said.
The album was mixed by Thejus Nair of Eleven Gauge Recordings and mastered by Kerala-based Vivek Thomas. “The album represents us as a band,” Emileenaa said. “None of us really knew each other before the band. We’re also very different people — the kind of six people that may never be in a room together. But when we’re doing this, we are one mind, and that is the strange connection.”
The eight songs cover a wide range of themes. One, titled ‘Blow-up Doll’, discusses past loves gone sour. Another, Selfie, a single and music video released this February, challenges notions of authenticity.
This August, the band also released a second music video, Breaking Away, which stitches together a montage of videos of celebrities who “lipsync” the lyrics. Featured in Rolling Stones India, the video now has more than 91,000 views on Facebook. “It definitely got us a lot of visibility,” Basu said.
Armed with their first body of original work, the band is planning to embark on a nine-city tour throughout the month of November.