Kolkata-based funkadelic/hip-hop outfit Park Circus' debut album could be a game-changer for Kolkata rap
By their frontman’s own admission, it’s impossible to define Park Circus’ sound unless you’ve heard them play. “Our sound is our own,” BC Azad, the rapper and lyricist for the band tells us. The multilingual funkadelic hip-hop band has been making waves much before their debut album was announced, and is fine-tuning the makings of Kolkata hip-hop by focusing on the contrasting influences which gives the city all its cultural ground.
The 8-track album features collaborations with names like TOTO award winning Plastic Parvati, Poulami Bhattacharjee and has been produced by the famous Miti Adhikary, who’s worked with practically everyone from Coldplay to Jack White. We caught up with BC Azad to fill us in on Park Circus’ plans:
Tell us a little about your debut album. What influenced its sound?
Our album Park Circus is an introduction to our sound, and features the first set of songs that we created over two years of jamming, improvisation, learning and hard work. Park Circus is an area of Kolkata that is full of surprises and contradictions, where you find the richest and the poorest living cheek by jowl, sharing space on the sweaty and always vibrant streets. We have tried to capture this diversity by writing songs in both languages, as well as creating our own special mix of the two!
How did the band come together?
My collaborations with bassist Joy Roy's would go on to be the musical foundation of all our songs. Our second song ‘Trouble’ was how we started working with Rohini Bhose, who’s a steady part of our stage line-up. By absolute chance, my friend, the music producer National Animal (whom I knew from college) had just moved back to Kolkata looking to find some way to create new music.
He'd been living in Delhi, jamming with the likes of Peter Cat Recording Company, Jamblu and he just fit right in with the band, giving it the technical sophistication we had been lacking. It was after we started playing shows that we met our newest member, DJ Vally who’s been in the Kolkata Hip-Hop scene for as long as there's been one.
Park Circus works with rap, psychedelia and rock simultaneously...
Well, we started out with punk rock so it has not been challenging at all. The reason we chose hip-hop as a genre is that it embraces all sounds and influences, accepting any sample from anywhere as long as you can put it over a groovy beat.
Can you tell us what you're planning next?
Next up is my solo album, Azadi Haraam, which should be out in a few weeks time. Our greater goal is to establish our music label, Azad Music Factory, on a national stage. Kolkata hip-hop is actually really rich and diverse in sound, we are eager to bring this to the world.
If artistes here get the platform they deserve, I don't think Delhi, Bombay or Bengaluru will be able to keep up. But the music economy here is such that people are forced to move to other cities to get well-paying work. We want to change all that, but for now, we just want people to know that Kolkata is here and will not go unaccounted for in the culture revolution sweeping India right now.