'Music should be beyond language'

'Music should be beyond language'

Just the name is enough  - 'Masala Coffee'. With an ability to send huge crowds into raptures of delight with their soulful numbers or get them to  lose control with their fast tracks, the band's meteoric rise to fame has been dizzying.  

Recently in the city to perform at Phoenix MarketCity, percussionist Varun Sunil and lead singer Sooraj Santhosh talked to Rajitha Menon about their brand of music and the debut album.

How was the band formed?

Varun:  In 2014, I got a call from the show 'Music Mojo', aired on the Malayalam channel Kappa TV. I already knew Sooraj and I called him to say that we should take this chance.

We got together a bunch of his friends and performed a bunch of covers and originals for the show. That was how 'Masala  Coffee' was formed.  

What's the story behind the name?

Sooraj: We needed a name to bring out the 'Music Mojo' session. During a brainstorming session, someone suggested this name  and it sounded nice. There is nothing called as 'masala coffee', we only have 'masala tea'. Since we play a  mix of everything, the name suited us.

Indie music is very popular nowadays. How do you ensure that your band stands out?

Sooraj: The basic sound of the band is alternative folk rock and this genre has a lot of scope; it ensures that we sound different. The foundation for every classical  form is folk music  so people can relate to it very easily.  

How important is a chance to work in films for a band?

Sooraj: In a country like ours, no other music has the sort of reach that film songs have. A band doesn't have to necessarily do this to be popular but there is nothing wrong with it.  It is a nice challenge to score the music according to a situation.  Independent music gives you more freedom.  

Live shows or studio recordings?

Sooraj: They are as different as chalk and cheese; it is difficult to pick one. The behaviour, the way we sing, harmony between members - everything changes. We enjoy doing both though.

What do the members do when not making music?

Sooraj: Gossip (laughs)
Varun: We go for trips; at least we plan for them (laughs). We also explore food joints.  
Sooraj: Now we spend a lot of time on our phones so we are looking at ways to reduce that too.  

Tell us about your new album.

Sooraj:  We have been working on it for some time now. The recording is almost done and we plan to release the entire album by early next year.

The name hasn't been decided yet. There will be a set of 10-12 songs and this will also include some numbers we have performed live earlier. 

Varun: We have songs in different languages like Hindi, Tamil  and Malayalam and in various genres like world music, contemporary folk fusion etc.  

Thoughts about the Bengaluru crowd?

Sooraj: It's the best in South India. Any music will sell in this city; the  audience is a genuine one and is tuned to appreciate all kinds of genres.  

Most memorable moment in your musical journey?

Varun: When we performed at the Global Village in Dubai in March this
year. We represented India along with Farhan
Akhtar.  

Favourite language to sing in?

Sooraj:  Music should be beyond language; it is universal. In fact, that is my request to the people out there.  When you come to listen to an artiste, come purely for the music they make and not for the language they sing in.  

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