Riding high on the success of their original track ‘Kaanthaa’ and the covers of popular AR Rahman songs ‘Munbe Vaa’ and ‘Snehithane’, year-old band ‘Masala Coffee’ seems to have made a special place for itself in the ever-evolving music scene during the short span of its existence.
For those unfamiliar with it, before one asks which genre it can be categorised into, the name says it all— they perform a blend of music styles including world music, contemporary folk fusion, rock and more.
With a current line-up of Sooraj Santhosh and Gokul Eknath on vocals, Preeth PS and David Crimson on guitars, Varun Sunil on percussion, Joe Jacob on drums, Paul Jacob on bass, Sunil George on keys and Arshad Khan on ‘esraj’ (a rare instrument), ‘Masala Coffee’ has original compositions like ‘Bharathiyar’, ‘Odi Odi’ (a social satire), ‘Once Upon A Time In Punjab’ and ‘Tamas’ as well as the cover of ‘Khwaaja’ to its credit. The vibrant band, with a mix of members from Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai and Delhi, recently enthralled music lovers in the City at a gig at Hard Rock Cafe.
“We’ve performed earlier at corporate gigs in Bengaluru but this was our first time at a public event here. It was wonderful to see so many people turn up despite the heavy rains. We wanted to present our fans with “genuine serious independent music” and received great appreciation from them,” say Varun and Joe with a gleeful smile.
The band was born out of bonhomie rather than a conscious attempt to come together and jam.
“I was contacted by Kappa TV to do a shoot for ‘Music Mojo’. That’s when I called them all up— my good friends and members of the band, who are all established musicians themselves. We shot together and had a really good time. It was like a family, with strong bonding, and hence, came ‘Masala Coffee’. Gradually, people started calling us for concerts,” shares Varun adding, “It’s been a really fantastic journey.
“We have been performing in different parts of India and abroad. Everyone is busy with their own projects but when it comes to the band, each one devotes time and contributes their part. Though we belong to different cities, thanks to technology, communication has been made easier and we make it a point to meet and rehearse before our gigs.”
With each genre requiring a different pitch, style and note, how do they manage a number of them? “Each of us specialises in one or two different genres and when our talent comes together, we create a storm,” gushes Joe. The skillful group recently composed three tracks for Tamil film ‘Uriyadi’ (produced by Nalan Kumaraswamy and Sameer Bharat Ram), one of which is ‘Kaanthaa’ recreated in Tamil.
They had an enriching experience working for the movie as Joe puts it, “We came across different perspectives of people towards music while collaborating with non-musicians during the production.”
Happy with their progress, they plan to collaborate with artistes like Raghu Dixit and Shankar Tucker and also look forward to coming out with an album next year. “We intend to start composing a new album in early 2016 and it will be released by April or May,” shares Joe.
Meanwhile, for the fan following that they have gathered in this time, ‘Masala Coffee’ has a message, “Encourage independent music. Don’t restrict yourself to one genre and be open to all types of music. In fact, take each genre as it is and enjoy it to the fullest.”