‘No cultural exchange by singing only in local tongue’

The Peepal Tree has played more than 1,500 concerts globally.

Fresh from the release of their debut album, Bengaluru-based multi-genre band ‘The Peepal Tree’ performed last week at ibis, Outer Ring Road.

The multilingual band comprises Sujay Harthi, Tony Das, Praveen Biligiri Willy Demoz and Siddhart Kamath. Sung in Indian languages, their songs can be described as Indian melodies fused with funk grooves and overtones of electronica.

The group has played more than 1,500 concerts globally and has worked in the Hindi and Kannada movie industries.

In an interview with Metrolife, the band talks about their music and more.    

About your debut album ‘Chetana’.

‘Chetana’ is a labour of love. This being our first album, we had no preconceived ideas about what we wanted going in. We took it in whatever direction it went and the album ended up quite diverse and tied together by what we feel is ‘our sound’.

In the recent past, a few bands have been dissed for not performing Kannada songs during their shows in Bengaluru. What are your thoughts?

Unintelligent people with idle minds don’t have many ways to entertain themselves. Do they mean to say that music should only be performed in the local language in any city/country in the world? Are we going to partake in any kind of cultural exchange this way? Do these same people expect musicians from Karnataka to perform in the languages of the places they perform at? Unfortunately, the sentiments of a few idiots can easily be mistaken for those of the otherwise peaceful majority, and this ends up making the city look like we don’t welcome everyone from everywhere.

Why do you think only a few bands sing Kannada songs?

There are more than a few bands that sing in Kannada. However, we feel like the main reason people could be hesitant is that they don’t see much of a market for music sung in Kannada outside the state. But we believe that if you make your music in whatever way you see fit, and in whatever language you’re comfortable with, there will always be an audience for it.

Were you aiming to be a multi-genre band?

Not really. However, we did say that we didn’t want genre to be a limiting factor for our music. But we didn’t actively pursue it; we wrote whatever sounded like it would be fun to turn into a song and let it take shape from there.

What’s the story behind your band’s name?

We were stuck to find a name in the early days of the band and went through a whole lot of terrible and not-so-terrible ideas.

Willy was the one who suggested the name. It came to him in a dream, and he messaged us at around 3 am asking for our thoughts. We thought it was great as it indicated a strong connection to our roots.      

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